Make Sure to See the Whole Court
Continuing with the tennis analogy employed in THE UNFORCED ERROR, as in tennis, people in business need to be sure they have a clear view of the court at all times.
When I say the whole court, I mean the entire playing field that serves as the backdrop to our jobs and careers. When I go out and speak to groups, I warn them about getting tunnel vision or “cubicle vision.” I tell them that it is not enough just to see what is going on in their own departments. They need to see what is going on with their unit, different parts of the company, competitors, the operating environment, etc. Only then can you get a clear picture of how well you and your company are doing, and more important, only then can you take meaningful steps to make things better. In these very tough times, with a national unemployment rate hovering at about ten percent, few of us can ill-afford to be caught off guard by a situation that we simply did not know about because we were too lazy to do our due diligence.
For example, say you work in the marketing department of a food and beverage company. You get good performance reviews, and morale in your department is fine. However, what you are not aware of is that parts of the sales department is in ruins. The company laid off 20 percent of the department because sales for the Eastern region fell off a cliff. As a result, the company is going to have to make job cuts across the board, which includes your department. Had you known, you might have stepped up your game knowing what was at stake; and you could have been better prepared to search for a new job knowing that yours was on the line. In this extreme scenario, you would have to be a real ostrich to get caught this much off guard. But this stuff happens every day in organizations.
Most other situations are a bit more subtle. For example, you may be a salesperson in that same company and not know that your biggest customer is in real trouble, endangering the business that you do with them. Their sales make up more than 15 percent of your [individual] total sales budget, so not knowing that they may shut down their doors could also cost you your job. That example isn’t all that subtle either, but you get the idea.
When things are as tough as they are now, with unemployment rates so high, you must constantly work without blinders. The risk for failing to do so is simply too high.