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The ‘Cancer’ of Complacency

November 21, 2015

Will Your Business ‘Croak’?
At this point, who hasn’t heard the ‘boiling frog’ story? If your hand is raised right now (which would surprise me), allow me to dish you the short version.

A frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough. A frog placed in boiling water will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out (oh yeah, and it’ll die, too!).

A Pond Chock Full of ‘Frog Management’?
Before you say ‘Silly Frogs! Those smooth-brained critters deserve it!,’ consider some of the highest-stakes situations where human life is in the balance. Miles O’Brien, a pilot, airplane owner and freelance journalist blogging at delivers a sobering corroboration:

The brilliant physicist and educator Richard Feynman, who served on the Rogers Commission (which investigated the Challenger accident), summed it up well.

He compared NASA’s decision to keep launching shuttles despite growing evidence of scorched, leaking Solid Rocket O-Rings as “a kind of Russian roulette… (the Shuttle) flies (with O-Ring erosion) and nothing happens. Then it is suggested, therefore, that the risk is no longer so high for the next flights. We can lower our standards a little bit because we got away with it last time.”

Whether or not we like it or are even aware, we gradually and blithely accept greater risk without comprehending what we are really up against.

What You Don’t See
Like the frog who doesn’t notice the increase in temperature, are you complacent because you’re not feeling any hot water…yet? Are you rationalizing a slowdown in sales to what’s ‘out there’ – economy, tightwad customers, a new competitor?

Attracting and retaining customers is a 24/7 job for any profit-seeking organization. The same goes for improving your products and services.

…excellent companies are prepared to confront the deficiencies in good time. Lesser, smugger managements wait until crisis — manufactured by their mismanagement — forces their hands. — Thinking Managers

My clients are terrified about the calls they are not getting, not necessarily about possible service complaints…they are trained to deal with those (and complaints are clues to improvement opportunities).

They can’t do a thing about calls they’re not getting and the people those callers will complain to in their circle; statistics suggest the complaining is FIVE times as likely as positive referrals.

This country needs small- to medium-sized businesses. Stay aware, be proactive and get after new clients and retaining existing clients.

Mark Morton is “Project Master” at (Don’t Worry) It’s Handled…an expert resource helping small- to medium-sized businesses thrive in the toughest markets.


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