Chapter 6: Predictable Success
We start this chapter with an introduction to Derek, the CEO of a highly successful PR agency. Despite having achieved accolades, prestige and a significantly higher income, he was feeling disillusioned and frustrated as he became further and further removed from the business he had worked so hard to create.
Derek had founded the company because he wanted the freedom it would afford him. When the company hit Whitewater, he diligently worked through it for three years – learning how to develop and manage leadership teams throughout the organization. Systems and processes were put in place, but creativity and flexibility were also maintained.
After the business reached Predictable Success, Derek sold shares in the business to a national advertising agency. Before long, he found that the parent company’s board was vetoing his ideas. He began to bristle at the increased oversight of his day-to-day activities and tried to function outside of the very systems he had helped to create. Finally, he sold his shares, telling Les that the company had been transformed into a “bean counter’s paradise” and the processes that were in place were strangling the lifeblood out of the business.
Treadmill is the fifth stage of development. Organizations reach it when they become oversystematized. If systems and processes were so helpful in getting an organization to Predictable Success, why not add more?
The problem is that too many systems and processes slow an organization down, taking away its flexibility and its ability to react quickly. Management becomes more concerned with how something is done rather than what is being done. New ideas aren’t pursued or implemented because it becomes too difficult to translate them into action, leading to a loss of innovation and the growth it brings.
The culture becomes one of CYA – comply-at-all-costs – where surprises are not allowed and bad news is suppressed. This is an extremely dangerous place to be, because if it is not corrected, the organization will lose its ability to self-diagnose and will slide into The Big Rut.
We’ll examine how to take an organization out of Treadmill and back to Predictable Success in Chapter 10. But for now, let’s step inside the regimented stage that is Treadmill.
The links below will help you walk through the resources for Chapter 6.
Chapter 6 Resources
Blog Posts: Warning Signs That You May Be Running In Place
One of the dangers of Treadmill is that form is valued above function. In this blog post, we’ll explore why it’s possible to be highly efficient, but painfully ineffective, and how that can ultimately cost companies much more than they realize:
Everyone stumbles, but how do you know whether it’s merely due to a bump in the road or something much worse? In these three articles, we examine some of the specific signs to watch out for:
Now that we’ve looked at some of the warning signs of Treadmill, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin. Specifically we’ll examine which indicators suggest that a company is equipped to handle challenges as they arise and will continue to innovate and be successful:
Video: Bondage to Better
One of the traps that an organization in Treadmill falls into is an overemphasis on perfection. Remember, an implemented process that is 80% correct is infinitely more effective than one that’s un-implemented but 100% correct.
In this video, we examine how this behavior impacts an organization’s growth.
Blog Post: A Recurring Review
Just as striving for perfection can impede progress, so can falling victim to habits. In this blog post, we consider when a review may be beneficial.
Blog Post: Buy Your Way Back
Some organizations that find themselves in Treadmill turn to an outside company for help. Specifically, they will purchase a vibrant young business and hope that organization’s success will rejuvenate the newly-formed entity.
As this blog post reveals, trying to buy your way out of this stage is rarely successful.
Blog Posts: Finding One’s Voice
The key difference between Treadmill and The Big Rut is the ability of an organization to self-diagnose. The question is, do you have a canary in the coal mine who can and will sound the alarm?
In this first blog post, we examine the role of “The Voice” and how to identify it in your organization:
While you may not be “The Voice”, that doesn’t exempt you from stepping up and challenging the status quo:
It’s imperative that you establish a culture of open communication among those you lead. Here’s a closer look at a key mistake to avoid:
Fighting Numbness & a Treadmill Case Study
The core reason an organization begins to lose its way and starts to decline is nearly always due to numbness. In these blog posts, we examine first how it begins and then share a specific step you can take to prevent it:
At the time these resources are being published, an extremely high-profile example of the damaging effects of Treadmill is playing out in the headlines. In these two articles, we offer you a closer look at GM:
Interview: How Dave Brandon Fought to Keep Domino’s Out of Treadmill
We’ll dive deeper into how to pull an organization out of Treadmill and back into Predictable Success in Chapter Ten. However, here’s a taste of what’s to come.
Listen as Chairman and former CEO of Domino’s Pizza, Dave Brandon, shares with Les how he worked to keep his organization from falling victim to this dangerous stage.