We spend a lot of management time diagnosing problems and putting out daily fires. How much time do we take to determine why things are going well?
Here’s an example – I worked for a travel company a few years back. Some products were doing well, some were what we called, "products of need." All our resources (and marketing) was then shifted to filling the gaps on the products of need.
Every now and then in meetings someone would remark about the products that were selling well and someone else would ask – "Do we know why that’s doing well?" Everyone agreed that this would be interesting information to know, but the actions to determine this never made it to the top of anyone’s to-do list.
I always wondered if we might not be better off going where the energy already was?
This same philosophy applies to a lot of the things we do in business. Even things like promotions, project assignments, and changes – what’s working well and how can you determine the actions you are taking that are making the greatest difference?
The problem with all this is that we often have no idea why something is working. Sometimes the reason is beyond our control and as a result of actions taken months or years prior.
Case in point, and the reason I got to thinking about this topic. Right now, one of my older and less publicized books, Coaching Basics is outselling all the others, even my precious new book, on Amazon. I have no idea why but I am tickled pink. I wish I knew what was working so I could do more of it. But then, it might not have anything to do with me – it might be a result of someone else’s actions (like a college instructor recommending the book). Hey, I’m not going to fight it.
I think "why is it working?" is a good question. There are two major pitfalls involved with failing to ask and answer this question:
1. You fail to capitalize on the opportunity to do more of what’s working well.
2. To take the fact that it is working well for granted and take your eye off the ball – it could be a fluke and you could be scrambling as soon as things normalize.
Why are you experiencing success?