Management that’s too good to fail?

After a long series of wins and great successes, many a management team takes on a degree of hubris. They relish reading their own press clippings and start engendering and conveying an attitude that they can’t fail. Nothing builds confidence better than succeeding against great odds. This is all well and good, but only to a certain degree. Many teams both in sports and management talk “trash,” making claims that can’t be met. This adds to the aura of superstars, but behind the façade of bravado lies the constant nagging “F of F syndrome” or Fear of Failure.
Good companies know they’re only as good as their last time at-bat. Strikeout occasionally, and it’s no big deal. But swing and miss regularly and soon a company’s image begins to tarnish. Self-doubt and second-guessing can then spiral out of control. Leadership becomes paranoid, begins to play too defensively and ultimately avoids taking calculated risks.
While an exceptional team can take a ho-hum idea and advance it, even the greatest cannot make that proverbial silk purse out of a sow’s ear. Superb execution can take a concept only so far. There are no known superstars that can run faster than a speeding bullet, have more power than a locomotive, or jump tall buildings in a single bound. Those feats are left to comic-book superheroes. Entertaining, sometimes, but never taken seriously.
Even more than an excellent management team that executes flawlessly, what matters in business is that the idea is great, or at least good, for any new business product, service or process. If the foundation is not solid, it’s not worth the effort to build upon it. Accordingly, the most effective management groups spend considerable time and effort searching and vetting that next something big. The best teams always should include a few dyed-in-the-wool skeptics who keep challenging the group to make whatever it is even better.
Once an idea has legs, that’s where management earns its stripes. Unfortunately, many promising ideas have failed because management didn’t know how to transform a concept into a viable reality. Innovation without the ability to execute cannot be sustained, and execution without innovation is an exercise in futility. It’s one thing to discover gold, but it takes a different set of skills to mine the treasure.
Organizations must have both idea guys who can think it and others who can actually do it. Occasionally the entrepreneur/trailblazer/guru types can evolve and fill both roles, but more often than not, the former lose interest when it’s time to work out the myriad details and adhere to the disciplines needed to roll out a new offering that resonates with customers.
It can be fanciful and productive to dream it. Still, if the idea is not executable based on needs, economics and practicality, it’s much akin to a company talking trash. It might sound good, but it means nothing.

To make that proverbial silk purse, a company must first know the best material to use.

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.”