Yes, folks, chronic inconsistency is a disease like chronic high cholesterol. Unfortunately too many of us are afflicted. It goes by different names; perhaps you have heard of it as the “flavor of the week” or the “new shiny object”. Regardless what we call it, it has deadly consequences.
Chronic inconsistency occurs when there is not a strategic focus, nor a disciplined approach to implementing it, within the organization. It creeps up on us just like chronic high cholesterol. You get it by giving into the temptation to step outside of what you know and engage in things that look more interesting, because you are bored, curious or thinking it might be a better solution.
New isn’t the issue, inconsistency is. When we have a plan that is working or even when we start on a new path, if we don’t stay the course we won’t reap the benefits.
You have heard me refer to this before as “whack-a-mole” management. We tackle issues one at a time, with no overarching framework for guidance, without consideration of how the solution will impact other divisions or aspects of the business. This one-at-a-time approach, or starting and switching to something more interesting, just means we work hard and don’t cross the goal line.
Change and innovation are good things but not without a rudder; a sense of the overall plan. When something stops working, change it. But be sure the new solution continues to support the other aspects of the business keeping the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
Jim Collins captured this message in his new book, Great by Choice, when he wrote, “The signature of mediocrity is not unwillingess to change, it is chronic inconsistency.” The discipline to keep moving the business forward using consistent proven drivers is the key.
Case in point? Southwest Airlines has followed the same general strategy and success principles for years. They have hired fun, spirited people, have flown only 737’s, and have maintained a fanatical devotion to low costs. None of that has changed. They have modified where they do business and have added internet booking, but they haven’t changed the core model or what they stand for. They have just occasionally updated how they delivered it as new opportunities to be great became available.
Is your organization disciplined, or are you pursuing the “flavor of the month?” Only one leads to sustainable growth; the other is potentially lethal.