Make sure your corporate eyes are not bigger than your corporate stomach

We were all kids once. However, those who have grown up to become CEOs, senior executives, and board members seem at times to have forgotten the adage, “mothers (or other parental authorities) know best.” Well, that adage should be remembered. Just as five-year-olds are told to make sure their eyes are not bigger than their stomach, adults running businesses today would do well to follow a version of that motherly advice.

Too many businesses overreach and go astray when they try to do too much and typically wind up doing everything, or at least many things, halfway or wrong. This results in mediocrity.

Company leadership must remember the mother/eyes/stomach analogy and then apply the new business math of addition by subtraction.

This means that no matter the organization, there are always limitations – be it not enough resources, including money, people, and energy, to complete every initiative they’d like to accomplish or dream of doing. Too many companies spend too much time making promulgations of new goals for the ensuing one, two, or even five years without doing the math to determine if all these undertakings can be accomplished simultaneously within a given time. Some companies even make projections because they mistakenly believe that their words won’t harm them, and they can simply adjust their goals as they go. This hurts an organization’s credibility and deflates employees once they think about what will be required. Those who must do the work are usually the first to know that the goals are not obtainable.

Companies that consistently reach for the stars but subsequently are forced to come back to Earth find themselves in a perpetual state of “backpedaling” when they realize that they overreached and overextended. These organizations typically subscribe to the concept that it is better to throw as many things as possible against the proverbial wall to see what sticks, meaning announcing impressive-sounding objectives and then undertaking more goals than they know they can achieve.

Focus is the key to success, but that focus must involve something doable and not a pie-in-the-sky dream. In the best companies, the planning process is sacrosanct and involves management at every level of the company. Each goal under consideration must be stress-tested not once but at least twice by two separate groups.

Once a consensus on the validity of the undertaking is quantified both intellectually and mathematically, a timeout should be taken to allow for second thoughts, just to solidify that the thinking is sound.

After each goal is firmly entrenched in the pecking order, the monitoring process must be continuous to allow for “waypoints” as a project proceeds, always making way for modifications when appropriate.

All those in the decision-making process should harken back to when they were five years old and remember that often repeated admonishment to “make sure your eyes are not bigger than your stomach.” Addition by subtraction is an effective way to reach your goals. Going heavy on the best and forgetting the rest is good business. ●

Visit Michael Feuer’s website to learn more about his columns, watch videos and purchase his books, “The Benevolent Dictator” and “Tips From The Top.”

Michael Feuer

Founder and CEO