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“We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.
Often when I write my newsletters, I develop a topic and then search for a relevant quote. This newsletter is the reverse. I am writing about a favorite quote which I often share with clients. Typically, I serve as a change agent for the people I work with. They are usually struggling with some element of their business or with individuals who are preventing the company moving ahead. Einstein’s words address the issue right on.
Let’s explore how this quote is relevant to every individual. If you are trying to lose weight to get ready for summer, when there is no hiding under loose shirts or blouses, you keep doing what has worked for the past 20 years. You rejoin the health club and watch what you eat. Low and behold the pounds are not coming off. So, do you try harder doing the same things or do you think about doing something different? Do you read a book about nutrition? Do you try different exercises at various times of the day? Or do you just give up by buying bigger clothes and refuse to go to the beach? How do you think about this challenge? If you’re stuck, ask a specialist. Hire a personal trainer, see a nutritionist, or talk to your physician. Figure out what you need to do that’s different.
In business, I see people repeat the same behaviors that aren’t effective. Some clients continue to use their tired old marketing messages in the same ways. They keep going in the same direction they have been. At one time it worked but now they are stuck in a rut. Are you following in their footsteps? Well, its time to get out of the rut and change how you look at your issues.
Here are some ways to view your challenges and take new steps:
Look beyond your specific industry. Businesses stay with the approaches that are always used in their industry but is limiting. Talk to executives who come from different types of businesses. You can learn and adjust their ideas to fit your needs. Most business issues are similar across the board. CEO groups are great for this purpose. Chambers of commerce roundtables can expose you to how other types of businesses solve common problems.
Create an advisory board. If you do a good job selecting your board members, you will get a well-balanced perspective. Your advisors will see problems from other angles and help develop good solutions. They bring their experience and are not encumbered with the operational issues of your business. They can pull you up to see the 10,000-foot view.
Build a diverse executive team. Hire key people who will bring a different approach from yours. If you surround yourself with people who think like you, you may be headed for trouble. Allow your team to question your ideas. Of course you have the final say, but consider alternatives. Others’ contributions might improve your business.
Hire a business advisor or coach. If you have a trusted advisor to bounce ideas off of, you will be ahead of the game. Make sure the individual is direct and will challenge you. Again, the final decision is yours but it’s helpful to think through all the possible outcomes of a decision with someone else beforehand.
Read, read, read. There are wonderful trade journals and management books that look at business with a new set of lenses. Some may be trendy or a little out there but take what is useful. Why recreate the wheel when others have struggled with the same issues you have and found solutions. Most highly visible leaders document their philosophies and successes by writing books. If they aren’t totally ego-driven, they will highlight their mistakes as well as accomplishments.
Take the words of Albert Einstein seriously. We all know how he was able to think about issues in a variety of ways. However, you don’t need to be a genius. Just keep your eyes and mind open, don’t get buried working in your business and surround yourself with people who will be honest with you. Keep focused but always think about how you can do things differently and better.