One of the secrets to achieving revolutionary results is to eliminate the main reason for failure. When you do that, you position yourself to not only achieve your goals, but also to exceed them.
Following, I have listed the top 10 causes of failure that we need to avoid in order to achieve revolutionary results.
- Lack of Clarity Regarding the Goals
If we do not know what it is we are trying to achieve, then it is impossible for us to plan for it correctly or know when we have achieved it. Our goals need to be crystal clear, because only then can we come up with a realistic plan for achieving them.
Imagine your goal is to be a millionaire by the age of 40, sounds pretty clear right?
But, to me that’s not clear at all!
Do you mean that you want a business or job to be generating a million in revenue? Do you want to have assets that are worth a million? Or, do you want to have $1million in cash in the bank?
These are 3 completely different things, each of which would require a different plan of action. We need to have complete clarity of our goal, so that we can be sure that our plan has a plan to achieve it.
I have also worked with some companies who were not even sure what their goals were themselves, even though they were supposed to be setting the goals, which is a surefire approach to under performing and failing to achieve full potential.
- Poor Communication of the Goals
Too often, the goals are not communicated to our teams or are poorly communicated. In order for us to communicate clearly, the goals themselves need to be crystal clear.
We also need to communicate the purpose, or the reason why the goals are important, and if possible, why the goals are important to our teams. When we do that, we can increase the motivation of our teams. When our teams are motivated and have a sense of purpose, their productivity will increase, which will help us achieve our goal and maybe even exceed it.
I did some work with a CEO of a small business with approximately 20 staff. The CEO told me that the team were not always following instructions or if they were, the tasks were often completed later than expected.
I asked whether they had communicated the goals for the business to the team?
The CEO replied, “No. Why should I”?
If your team doesn’t know what the goals are, how can they know whether or not the task you have assigned is important or not? If tasks are perceived as not important, then they can often be put to one side for tasks that may be misinterpreted as more important.
Also, when we fail to communicate our goals, we restrict our teams from being creative and innovative. We put them in a position where we are just expecting them to blindly follow instructions. This is hardly inspiring and doesn’t create engaged teams.
- Poor Execution
Poor execution from the team is often a complaint that I hear from management. In reality, this is often a symptom, rather than a root cause, and it’s a symptom that actually has many root causes.
These can include the approach being overly complex, a lack of motivation, and a lack of clarity over roles and responsibility, all of which need to be addressed in order to ensure we get efficient execution.
- No Clear Plan
When we lack a clear plan, we are relying more on hope than a detailed strategy.
If we lack a clear plan, how can we communicate to our teams what they need to do in order to be successful?
Clear plans allow us to build confidence that we know what needs to be done in order to achieve success. When our teams can see their way to victory, it increases motivation.
When you have a confident and motivated team, hard work will naturally follow. People are not afraid of hard work, especially when they know they will be successful. It’s when people don’t see the path to success that they quit!
Just going through the planning process, itself, adds value. It forces you to think about the future and the challenges you’ll face. It also forces you to consider your financial needs, your marketing and management plans, your competition, and your overall strategy.
- Starting Too Late
Some things have a predefined timeframe that is associated with them, which we need to take into account when planning or we will be setting ourselves up for failure.
I’ve lost count of the number of clients I have worked with that, when you look at the go live date and work backwards, taking into account everything that needs to be done, it becomes apparent that for the end date they have set, they needed to start 2, 3, and sometimes 6 months earlier.
Take product launch, for instance. We cannot just select any date for the go live. We need to understand all of the tasks that need to be done before the launch. Only then can we commit to the go live date. Otherwise, we will end up cutting corners in marketing and advertising. Our products will go live, but we will not achieve the targets we were hoping for.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aggressive, but it does mean that we need to remember it takes 9 months to make a baby and we cannot change that, no matter how many women we employ.
- Failure to React to Changing Circumstances
It’s great that we look to hold our course, but if the path we are on is not going to lead to success, then we need to change it. We need to be ready to adapt to new market conditions.
History is littered with tales of companies who clung to their approach, often when they knew that change was coming, but they were too stubborn to make the necessary changes.
Take Kodak, for instance. They actually invented the first digital camera, but failed to take advantage. Instead, they continued making film and whilst the world went digital, they saw their profits slump and slump.
Instead of changing strategy and being the leader in digital, they felt that the higher profit film business was the way to go, even though this business was being eroded.
The ability to recognize opportunities, and be flexible enough to adapt, is crucial to surviving and thriving. We need to learn how to wear multiple hats, respond nimbly, and develop new areas of expertise, as the market changes.
- Poor or Dysfunctional Management
A successful manager is also a good leader, who creates a work climate that encourages productivity. He or she has a skill at hiring competent people, training them and is able to delegate. A good leader is also skilled at strategic thinking, able to make a vision a reality and to confront change, make transitions, and envision new possibilities for the future
Too many managers giving conflicting directions is a sure fire recipe for disaster. A ship can have only have one captain or it will end up on the rocks. Sometimes, it can be as simple as a power struggle with different managers looking to wrestle for control or a bigger share of the profits, or it can be due to a difference of opinion in what the right strategy or tactics are.
Success comes when everyone is pulling in the same direction.
- Underestimating the Complexity
It’s not the part of the iceberg we can see that sinks the ship. It’s the 2/3 which are below water that causes the problems.
We need to make sure that we do our due diligence. We need to ensure that we fully understand everything that needs to be done in order to be successful, only then can we plan for everything.
The biggest area of underestimation, in my experience, is the effort needed to run change programs where people are involved. There is always resistance to change, but too often people are overly optimistic, thinking that new processes or products will be adopted and accepted easily.
More often than not, it’s the people aspect of projects that requires the most effort or takes the longest time, and if we don’t plan and budget for this, we will fail to achieve the results we are looking for.
- Insufficient Resources
Having insufficient resources is a common cause of failures in new businesses, especially having enough capital to survive the start up phase.
I remember with one of my first businesses, a lack of reserves almost caused the business to go under. The business model, itself, was fine. We offered a great service, at a good profit margin; the problem was that we hadn’t taken into consideration the payment terms of our customers.
Our costs needed to be paid each and every month, from day one, but our customers had 90-day payment terms. This meant that during the first 3 months, we had zero revenue, but significant costs, which caused us severe cash flow issues.
Even though we had profitable contracts, we nearly went under. Fortunately, I managed to get a loan, from a friend, to keep us going until we could move to a positive cash flow position. We were lucky. Not all businesses are that lucky.
The same is true of raw materials, personnel, and equipment. We need to make sure we have sufficient resources, in order to achieve our goal.
- No Clear Tracking of Progress
It never ceases to amaze me the number of companies, businesses, or departments that don’t have detailed progress reviews. I am not talking about a meeting, where the top-level managers meet to talk about issues that have arisen; I am talking about detailed meetings, where actual progress is compared to plan, and forecasts of future performance is reviewed and compared to the plan to ensure that the goals will be met
These meetings are required in order to hold people accountable and provide positive feedback to motivate our teams or support to those that need help getting back on track.
This also reinforces that our goals are important and we are determined to meet them.
Given that the majority of initiatives fail, we need to take every precaution to avoid the common causes of failure that trip up so many.
If you’d like to find out more about how you can avoid failure and put yourself on the path to success, contact me at Gordon@leadership-principles.com to find out more about my FAST™ Leadership approach, which will help you to revolutionize your results.