Jim Collins, in his book Good to Great, said famously, "good is the enemy of great." Well, I propose a corollary to that insight: BUSY IS THE ENEMY OF BETTER.
If your business is in a holding pattern, doing OK, but you know you could do better -- chances are that you're too busy to make it so. And if you're too busy, your employees and associates are probably too busy to make improvements, either. It is so easy to fall into the trap of busy-ness.
What makes this a trap? It's hard to break the cycle of busy-ness. You take a vacation to relax, you work twice as hard to go, and twice as hard when you get back. It's hardly worth it. I suggest that this is a warning sign of two serious consequences.
First, you may singlehandedly be a bottleneck for your organization. In Eli Goldratt's book, The Goal, he suggests that throughput is the rate at which you make money -- and that bottlenecks limit throughput. That can be manifest in a number of different ways, such as: holding up employees' progress on a project, missing new business opportunities, and causing rework by "leading from behind" (your employees take initiative, but without sufficient input from you, so they end up having to do it over, the way you want it).
The other consequence is more personal. By being too busy, what some people refer to as "lacking margin," you and your relationships suffer. You need to take care of yourself physically and mentally, and you need to invest in your relationships, personal and professional. How does this affect your business? Without margin, (and energy!) you lose sight of the strategic vision and you fail to bring fresh ideas to your work -- your business stagnates as a result.
The solution? Stop paddling so hard. Step back from some commitments. Manage your time more realistically, giving yourself margin.
Most importantly, you need to invest time and energy in innovation. There are a lot of different ways you can innovate to advance your business interests. Stay tuned for specific ideas.
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