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Home > Audio, Podcast, Show > Archive: A Better Way — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

Archive: A Better Way — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

June 7th, 2013

Career Opportuntiies Logo 2012

If there is one lesson you can take away from nearly every Career Opportunities column, it is the fact that there is always a better way. I don’t care how entrenched the problem, there is a way to solve it that will make your working world a better place to be. You shouldn’t simply have to “live with it.” Granted, the more difficult the problem the more dramatic the solution will need to be. Having the courage to address the problem is where we often fail, though. We forget that there is a better way and struggle on for months or years.

Books by Douglas E. Welch

Too often, long term problems exist because everyone in a company has collectively agreed to ignore them. These problems are the proverbial “elephant in the room” that everyone pretends isn’t there. It is amazing the mental gyrations we can perform to ignore a problem that is staring us right in the face. Maybe your company accountant is allowed to overrule any expenditure or your office manager treats the company as their own personal fiefdom, intimidating workers and executives alike. While people might grumble privately about the problem, no one seems to have the wherewithal, the courage, the guts to deal with the problem, even though it is crippling the company. I understand how stressful it can be to address a deeply entrenched problem like this, but by failing to deal with the problem, you risk sacrificing your entire company to the whim of one person.

Companies can also damage themselves by failing to address fundamental problems with their products or even their entire business model. In many operations, customer service and support staff spend the majority of their time fielding the same questions repeatedly. If companies truly wanted to improve their bottom line and help the company to grow, it seems that addressing these most common issues would be a great place to start. Instead, though, they ignore these most basic issues in favor of grand plans, complicated business strategies and the latest management fads. In most cases, management doesn’t even think to ask about these chronic problems. As in our other example, they simply pretend they don’t exist.

Sure, you will hear countless reasons why certain problems can’t be solved, but it is exactly this thinking that ensures problems will continue. We convince ourselves that some external force is preventing us from being the company and the person we truly want to be. The cold fact is, though, we have lost sight of our goals. We have forgotten that there is a better way. We ignore the difficult issues by focusing on those issues we think we can fix, but no matter how hard we work on these problems, the fundamental issues we are ignoring will always cause us to fail. Solve the big issues and many of the smaller issues will take care of themselves.

The most damaging problems are those where entire business models are at risk. You only have to look to the entertainment industry to see the results. In their case, refusal to face fundamental changes in their industry has led them down the path to near destruction. First, they ignored the problem of the Internet, file sharing and online distribution and now they are trying to use the legal system and legislation to prop up their old business model. Instead of addressing the problem and seeking new alternatives they will eventually be replaced by new companies that have created new business models that deal with the new realities of the entertainment industry.

For your own personal career, developing the courage and methods to face fundamental issues is a sure way to continue building your career, instead of watching it falter. While voicing your concerns might upset some people, the results you achieve will far outweigh the complaints of those determined to ignore the problems. You may need to be very creative in showing people the better way, but it is possible.

The current state of business should be a clear signal that you need to face those intractable problems of your company and your career or you could be facing the failure of both. No matter how difficult the problems may seem, you have to seek out the better way — you have to believe it exists — or you will find yourself trapped in a never-ending cycle of failure.


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