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If It’s Broke, Fix It!

I’ve used golf analogies before in a blog post, but I’m pretty convinced you could write an entire book comparing golf to business practices. Maybe today’s post could be a chapter…

Kids, dont try this at home.

Kids, don't try this at home.

You always hear the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, turn this around and you have “if it is broke, you sure as heck better fix it.” Right? Stay with me…

I’ve played golf for a long time. Unfortunately, I’ve never played it consistently enough to actually get good at it, but I’m fairly confident I can play 18 holes without embarrassing myself. The thing with golf is that so many people just pick up a club and start swinging on their own, the way that they swing the club is automatically putting them at a disadvantage. Their head moves all over the place, their arms swing like they’re noodles, and they practically fall over when they swing. The funny thing is how many people think that they can get better by keeping their current swing and just doing it better.

What?

If you swing like Charles Barkley, I feel pretty confident saying that you will never reach your potential as a golfer. Adjustments need to be made. You need to take lessons from an expert. If you don’t do this, I hope you’ve got some extra money because you’re going to be losing balls left and right.

This seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? Then why are there businesses out there that have a poor business model that think that if they can just operate more efficiently and work harder, they’ll be successful? If the principles your business operates on suck, then you’re results are going to suck too! I’m not sure if I can put it any more simply than that.

I started to address these questions in the post, but I really want to see what everyone thinks about them in the comments (I’ll throw some ideas out there too!) So, our topic for discussion today is: What are some good ways to identify if your business’ “swing is broken?” and how can you go about fixing it?

Photo from Flickr user Voyou Desoeuvre

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • jakerosen September 23, 2009, 12:08 pm

    Great post, Jackie. I think you're right in that there are a plethora of parallels that can be drawn between business and golf. Its probably why so many large B2B companies decide to sponsor golf related things.

    To your question of how to tell if a business swing is broken, I would say the major indicator is culture. Don't get me wrong financial success is vital, but the culture typically reflects the financial successes of a business. When a business is doing well, employees are usually happy. If a business is doing poorly, employees are usually frustrated. I think you can learn a lot about the successes and failures of a business (model and praxis) simply by examining the office culture and demeanor.

  • jackieadkins3 September 23, 2009, 12:19 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Jake! I'm definitely with you on the topic of culture and I've been fascinated with the topic ever since we talked about it in an organizational behavior class in school. As you said, the business's success/failure greatly affects the culture, but I think the culture has just as great of an effect on all aspects of the business. If you have a culture that's sort of lazy and happy go lucky, that's going to show in your final product.

    The thing with culture is that it is REALLY hard to change outside of bringing in entirely new management. Thanks for your insights!

  • jackieadkins3 September 23, 2009, 12:27 pm

    Since Jake got the discussion going, I'll give a couple of my thoughts as promised.

    One easy way to tell if your swing is broke is by looking at your competitors. If they're growing like crazy, but your business is pretty stagnant, something's up and you need to take action.

    One good way I can think of to “fix your swing” is to hire an external party to evaluate your situation and hopefully help fix it. This can be either a consultant or just a new hire, anyone with a fresh point of view. This way, someone who hasn't been quite as emotionally attached can come in and tell you like it is. The key is that you have to be prepared to handle the criticism that will help you turn your company around. You can't let your emotional attachment to an idea hold you back from making changes.

    What's everyone else think?

  • ryanstephens September 23, 2009, 1:49 pm

    I think you both have some valid points, and I'll steer it a different direction based the analysis of my own golf game. I could spend an inordinate amount of time and money trying to catch up and become an adequate golfer or I could realize that I'm in an over saturated market and try to find another sport (or niche) that I can be more competitive at, ahead of the curve.

    And even though I'm the worst golfer ever, I always leave with more balls than I came because I'm so frugal that when I wonder in the woods looking for my balls (hehe) I spend enough time that I usually find others people have given up on. I think sometimes, even if an over saturated market you can find areas to exploit if you look hard enough in the right space.

    How's THAT for an analogy?

  • jackieadkins3 September 23, 2009, 2:01 pm

    I definitely think sometimes you just have to realize the game isn't for you and know when you're playing the wrong game altogether. On your second point, want to write a chapter for my golf ebook?

    Also, good luck finding your balls.

  • Stuart Foster September 23, 2009, 2:03 pm

    The easiest thing to do? Ask someone if your swing sucks.

  • Jackie Adkins September 23, 2009, 2:11 pm

    Agreed. But I know a few people who don't want to hear that their swing sucks and would argue with you about it if you told them. I guess they'll realize it when they crash and burn though.

  • Elisa Doucette September 24, 2009, 5:44 pm

    I'll start by saying the only course I really kick ass on involves a windmill and a clown. Seriously, you should see me kill the links there. Otherwise, during corporate scrambles and whatnot…well…my team does really well if they'll give us a hefty handicap and I can buy mulligans. :P

    However I'm compelled by your post to take the whole thing a step further. Sometimes something ISN'T broke. The money is coming in enough to give you a comfortable life, the sales and expenses are reasonable, existence is pretty good. Do you accept that you've finally brought your handicap down to single digits (is that even possible?!) or do you continue trying to improve various things about your game to bring it even one step further?

    After Tiger Woods won, someone asked him what he was going to do next. His response “I'm going to try a new swing.” Seriously?! You are Tiger frickin' Woods and you are going to change your multi-tournament winning game?! Yeah, that's what distinguishes the successful from the complacent.

  • Elisa Doucette September 24, 2009, 7:44 pm

    I'll start by saying the only course I really kick ass on involves a windmill and a clown. Seriously, you should see me kill the links there. Otherwise, during corporate scrambles and whatnot…well…my team does really well if they'll give us a hefty handicap and I can buy mulligans. :P

    However I'm compelled by your post to take the whole thing a step further. Sometimes something ISN'T broke. The money is coming in enough to give you a comfortable life, the sales and expenses are reasonable, existence is pretty good. Do you accept that you've finally brought your handicap down to single digits (is that even possible?!) or do you continue trying to improve various things about your game to bring it even one step further?

    After Tiger Woods won, someone asked him what he was going to do next. His response “I'm going to try a new swing.” Seriously?! You are Tiger frickin' Woods and you are going to change your multi-tournament winning game?! Yeah, that's what distinguishes the successful from the complacent.

  • Elisa Doucette September 24, 2009, 11:44 pm

    I'll start by saying the only course I really kick ass on involves a windmill and a clown. Seriously, you should see me kill the links there. Otherwise, during corporate scrambles and whatnot…well…my team does really well if they'll give us a hefty handicap and I can buy mulligans. :P

    However I'm compelled by your post to take the whole thing a step further. Sometimes something ISN'T broke. The money is coming in enough to give you a comfortable life, the sales and expenses are reasonable, existence is pretty good. Do you accept that you've finally brought your handicap down to single digits (is that even possible?!) or do you continue trying to improve various things about your game to bring it even one step further?

    After Tiger Woods won, someone asked him what he was going to do next. His response “I'm going to try a new swing.” Seriously?! You are Tiger frickin' Woods and you are going to change your multi-tournament winning game?! Yeah, that's what distinguishes the successful from the complacent.

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