In the medical field, a doctor’s misdiagnosis can prove fatal. Have you ever considered the consequences of misdiagnosing a sales, marketing or business issue? In the metaphorical sense, a wrong diagnosis can prove fatal to your career or business as well.
According to the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF), misdiagnosis occurs in the medical profession up to 42% of the time.
When you consider that doctors, being highly educated and well-trained in their field, still misdiagnose symptoms for 2 out of every 5 patients, how much more susceptible might the everyday sales or business professional be in proffering a wrong diagnosis? Yet for many business professionals, they cavalierly forge ahead with untested hypotheses of their business issue, and a firm course set for remediation.
“For most diagnoses all that is needed is an ounce of knowledge, an ounce of
intelligence, and a pound of thoroughness”
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Try to recall a recent business result that fell short of expectations, and subsequently required diagnosing the problem. What was the process you used to identify the problem, and identify a remediation plan?
For many people, they follow an inherently flawed two-step plan:
- They compare their result to their expectation, then
- They work backwards from the result, looking for a plausible explanation for why they fell short
While this is a common approach, the problem is that beginning with the comparison as your starting point for diagnosis is far too late. All you can do at this point is learn for next time…if fortunate enough to have a next time. The second problem is that working backwards from the result only serves to explain symptoms, but not address the root cause. If we want to avoid bad results or avoid repeating bad results, we need to get at the root.
HOW DO YOU GET AT THE ROOT?
I used to live in a neighborhood where there were a lot of very large, mature trees with roots that would buckle the sidewalks. Imagine a city planner tasked with inspecting the damage and evaluating a remedy for the current problem, to serve as a model for future neighborhoods.
Imagine how preposterous it would be if the City Planner recommended a ‘root-redirection’ program when sidewalks started to buckle? In other words, if the proposal was to address the point of the visible problem by digging up the damaged sidewalk, and working to redirect the roots downward, we would laugh at the foolishness of such a plan.
Common sense suggests either planting trees farther away from sidewalks or changing the type of tree altogether. Stated differently, we would need to change what we do on the front end to get better results, not work from the point of the buckled sidewalks backwards.
Yet, this serves as a picture of how missed expectations are often addressed. A person does a comparison, sees the variance and looks for an explanation to the problem. When taking this approach [from the end rather than the beginning], the tendency is to stop searching once you believe you have reached a conclusion.
“A conclusion is the place where you got tired thinking.”
Those were the words of the German-American physician, Dr. Martin Fischer (1879-1962).
PRESCRIPTION FOR PREVENTION
Dr. Denis Burkitt said, “Diseases can rarely be eliminated through early diagnosis or good treatment, but prevention can eliminate disease.” Most would agree, prevention is much better than prescription.
In order to prevent a career full of missed results, followed by faulty diagnostics leading to more missed results, we need to look at a new process that will enable one to succeed intentionally, predictably and repeatedly. Doing so will prevent a career full of regret.
The best way to do so is to have a repeatable structure or process for achieving results, so that you can quickly identify and detect problems early.
Following are a list of steps to get you well on your way:
- Long-term goals should be front and center as your starting point
- Connect all shorter term goals into your long-term goals
- Identify specific activities/tactics necessary to achieve your goals on weekly basis
- Plan specific times each day/week to achieve the tactics leading to your goals
- Evaluate each day/week how you performed according to what you planned to do
- Adapt your approach as necessary based on your evaluation and insights
Do not let the process scare you as this not only is guaranteed to improve your results, but literally only takes 20 minutes/day and increases the success rate significantly. I do steps 1-4 in The First 15 Minutes of each day, and steps 5-6 in the last 5 minutes of each day before I leave. I jot quick notes of my observations for what did and didn’t go as planned and as a result, have a written record of how to repeat success.
What steps do you take to create intentional, repeatable and predictable success?