Removing The Fallen Trees from Your Growth Path

Few of us could ever predict when the rotting tree in our company is going to collapse. To make matters worse, even fewer of us know where the rotting trees are located. As a result, sales stagnate, clients leave, and innovation halts.

Yesterday, as Magnus and I were biking in Hilton Head, South Carolina, a huge, rotted spruce pine fell across Lighthouse Road, a main thoroughfare. The tree fall caused traffic snafus, and forced us to change our route.

Within two minutes, a cacophonous local emergency crew arrived on the scene and began clearing the debris. And within two hours, peace and normalcy were restored to the Sea Pines hamlet.

Tree across the street

How often do we expect a beautiful, mature tree to rot and die?

Few of us could ever predict when the rotting tree in our company is going to collapse. To make matters worse, even fewer of us know where the rotting trees are located. As a result, sales stagnate, clients leave, and innovation halts.

Today’s successful, innovative companies know how to assess which trees are about to expire. Here are eight places they typically look:

1. A product that has lived past its prime, and is now considered a commodity–yet commands over 60% of their time and energy.

2.An executive team who continues to play “chief rainmaker” and are frequently used as the cleanup crew in contentious sales situations.

3. An employee that is brilliant at their craft, but is poorly equipped or incapable of marketing or sales – yet still remains in a customer-facing role.

4. A marketing strategy that incorporates few or no social or online interactions with customers and prospects.

5. Tolerating a “client from Hades” that pays slowly, refuses to be a reference, and expects miracles.

6. Continuously blaming the volatile, credit-challenged economy for a company’s growth problems.

7. Heavy aversion to risk. This attitude often surfaces as the common practice of favoring team members who protect status quo.

8. Tolerance of poor client communication standards. I continue to receive emails with no signature lines (containing contact information), static Web sites with outdated content, and so-called “professionals” who do not return phone calls.

Where are the rotting trees in your business development systems? Do you have firm (e.g. written) plans in place to address a delay in revenues, or will you be forced to call in the emergency crews?

When a tree falls across your main highway, how soon will you remove it?

This post originally appeared on FastCompany.com.

copyright 2010, Lisa Nirell.  All rights reserved.

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