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Stop losing ground by solving the same business problems over and over again

Those vinyls. Bump the record player, and the darn needle would scoot over just enough to jump, skip and scratch. Not cool. Deep down you knew you’d probably hear the second stanza of “Hotel California” annoyingly repeated until you got off the couch, lifted the needle and freed the music.

We do that in business too. We rinse, wash and repeat the same problems for months or even years. It’s that thorn that never gets filed down, that issue you think about late at night and forget by morning. And while you may not be bleeding red from it, it’s endemic enough to hold you back.

Here are three scenarios everyone can relate to: problem employees, outdated technology and sketchily defined policies. (Hey, no running for the door. It takes grit to have a freakin’ fantastic company.)


It’s not that Bob absolutely has to go. Your manufacturing operation depends on this guy. He probably knows more about the company’s backstory than the current CEO. And he’s really good at this “one thing.” As a supervisor, he could whip up the proprietary formula for Kryptonite in his sleep. He knows the secret sauce.

The problem is that Bob is nothing but trouble.

You smell alcohol on his breath at seven in the morning. Oh, but he has it under control, you think. People worry he’s going to fall into a machine. But he’s been here 20 years. He’s starting to forget little things; what if he forgets to turn off the machine? Ughh! This should have been dealt with years ago. Of course you don’t want to deal with Bob. He’s cranky, territorial and has bad breath. Bad luck that the hard things in life are oftentimes the right things.

Look, your reliance on any one person is in direct proportion with their problems. Bob is any employee who knows the formulas or who can operate old, quirky equipment festooned with pea-soup-colored letters. Somebody gave Bob leverage over time. He’s not budging.

Time to move the needle.


Legacy means “something that has happened in the past.” Appropriate then to think that the people who operate legacy systems – older versions of IBM or Microsoft, for example – do so with specialty knowledge. Not always good. These people don’t even have to drink the Kool-Aid every day either. Consultants who piece and paste your platform together hold you hostage. The people who work with outdated technology know Frankenstein. They built him and take care of him. Every time the system crashes and your downtime stifles productivity, it’s teatime with Frankie.

Case in point. I know of a company that has not moved to direct phone lines. Instead, there’s one main number. No voicemail, no forwarding to mobile numbers, no nothin’. You couldn’t reach someone or leave a message after hours if it was the one and only phone call that could save your life.

Author John Maxwell once said: “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” Don’t you want to grow? Adopt new technology in phases, document the current IT processes, practice knowledge sharing, change up the status quo, and solve the problem once and for all.

Time to move the needle.


When your business goes from a few employees to a battalion carrying the company flag, keep your policies and procedures fresh and regard them like canon law.

After years of continent-hopping for big companies, believe me when I say that one of the biggest repeat offenders for repeat problem solving is policies and procedures. Without keeping these current, online and readily accessible to employees, precious time is wasted, decision-making slows, risk of discrimination and labor-related issues rise, and multiple people ask the same questions or, worse, make up their own answers.

Time to move the needle.

I get it. Complacency naturally sets in with the passage of time. You get used to things. And, let’s face it, change can be scary. Like the skipping record, though, solving the same problems over and over again only lands you at square one.

From British playwright W. Somerset Maugham: “If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?”

Well, is it?


Embrace change like it’s your best pal from college. It can transform your business into a growth-inspired endeavor and free you to lead fearlessly.