When Problems Multiply, It’s Time to Steal and Pluck

Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a…

Today’s blog post is a guest post from Tom Harper. Tom is president of Networld Media Group, a publisher of online trade journals and events for the banking, retail, restaurant and church leadership markets (including the mega-blog www.ChurchCentral.com). He is the author of Leading from the Lions’ Den: Leadership Principles from Every Book of the Bible (B&H). Here’s his post:

Let’s say you have a CEO friend who takes you to lunch. I don’t know what to do, he says, pushing his salad around his plate. My company is sinking. I can’t plug all the holes.

What advice do you give him? Here are a few tactics Paul offers to combat widespread, cumulative problems.

1.  Require gifts of time.  In 2 Corinthians 8:12, Paul instructs the church members at Corinth to not just love one another, but to prove it by their willingness to give. He says, For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. In other words, they shouldn’t compare the value of their gifts.

Paul commands the church to give sacrificially. This attitude should pervade an organization, too. When people give up their cherished time to help each other, personal agendas diminish.

2.  Steal one person’s problem and give it to others.  A widespread spirit of giving may not be enough to remedy serious problems. Sometimes the leader needs to rip people away from cracks in the walls and rush them to the breach at the main gate.

3.  Pluck out the parasites.  Are there parasites draining energy and productivity from your organization? They may be meetings, under-performing departments, individual products, services, people or customers.

Matt Russ is a triathlon and cycling trainer. He teaches how to produce concentrated pedal force with little wasted energy. It is possible to be a fit and powerful athlete, but not necessarily a fast one if you are inefficient, he writes. He warns against the following energy drains:

  • Soft-soled shoes (a harder surface transfers more body energy)
  • Loosely strapped feet (directs force laterally rather than vertically)
  • Pulling pedals up (one leg will fight the other, wasting effort)
  • Seat too high or low (affects power production)

All of these variables affect how you concentrate your energy to that small area near your big toe, he says. Training or adjusting for cycling efficiency is ‘free speed.’

How can you focus your organization’s limited supply of energy in the right places, with the right technique? What can you do to get some free speed?