Monday, August 20, 2012

TAGS: Building permits, Commerce Department, Seth Godin, James Hackett, Steelcase, cutting corners

Now Is Not the Time to Be Cutting Corners

We know it’s late August. It’s hot, muggy and you’ve already used up your vacation. The business and political climate is still uncertain and you’ve got too many deadlines to possibly handle before the real post Labor Day sprint kicks in. At times like this, there’s always the temptation to “mail it in,” cut corners a little and maybe try to get by with 90 percent effort or even 80.

Don’t do it.

As Steelcase CEO, James Hackett revealed in yesterday’s New York Times, “you have to practice for moments when your integrity might be tested,” such as a bad earnings quarter or a tough issue at your company. “People tend to double down and do bad things under the most extreme pressure.”
In this hyper competitive age of outsourcing and technological one upsmanship, we’re pressured to squeeze every penny out of our production process and every hour of productivity out of our workforce. But cutting costs and cutting corners in order to pump up your bottom line won’t work in the long run, argues futurist and blogger, Seth Godin in his post today, “The Race to the Bottom.”

“There's always the opportunity to cut a corner, sacrifice lifestyle quality and suck it up as we race to grab a little more market share. But the problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win.” Instead, he argues, we should strive to win the race to the top which is focused on “design and respect and dignity and guts and innovation and sustainability and yes, generosity when it might be easier to be selfish.”

OUR TAKE: As we’ve opinioned again and again in this blog, you can’t replace the value of high quality products, high quality client service and going the extra mile for your employees, strategic partners and stakeholders.

The bulls eye prioritization system

As Hackett observed, one technique that’s helped him prioritize for short-term, medium term and long term goals is to think of your work life as a bulls eye. “You put now in the center,” and the outer ring is “near” and the furthest ring is “far.” If you analyze your work calendar, how much time do you spend in each of the three zones?  “You’ve got to train yourself to work in all three zones simultaneously.” Unfortunately, it’s human nature to get pulled into the “now,” Hackett argues, and unfortunately at most organizations, the reward systems are build that way. Great leaders, he says, can transcend the short term thinking.

Macro View

Building permits rise to a 4 year high

Last week the Commerce Department reported that new building permits surged 5.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000 units last month, the highest since October 2008. The numbers are yet another signal that the housing market is improving and experts say it could be the first time that home building adds to U.S. economic growth since 2005.

OUR TAKE: What we like about this indicator is that it points to “new” building activity, not just “sales” which in recent years has mean clearing out old inventory of bargain basement homes, factories, office space and apartments. This is potentially real investment activity and shows signs of confidence on both the consumer and business fronts.


As preseason football gets underway, focus hard on your basic blocking and tackling. Nail down the basics before you get too visionary, but again, don’t ever try to cut corners. As a great leader and marketing organization, however, you have to spend a little time up in the film room and up in the coaches tower to get the overview of where you are now and where you are going. No one wants to get blindsided by the unexpected or caught offside for moving to soon and too carelessly.

There are too many competitors, referees and video reviewers watching your every move.


TAGS: TAGS: Building permits, Commerce Department, Seth Godin, James Hackett, Steelcase, cutting corners


No comments: