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Complacency Kills . . . Business!

I spent a decade in the U.S. Army, with a Cavalry Troop. I learned a thing or two about the importance of being consistent. I had a First Sergeant who loved to tell us that: “Complacency kills soldiers, but consistency kills complacency!” Ok, so he threw in a few more colorful adjectives most times, but this is a professional blog site after all! The point that I’m making is that consistency in training, equipment and maintenance of both those items, is what leads to a reliable - and usually victorious - military force. Folks who tell you that battles are won by “heart, dedication, and determination” are pundits who’ve never been in the military. Battles are won by training, good equipment, planning, and maintenance of your equipment and soldiers. This is the true infrastructure of a military unit and they can’t succeed at anything without addressing that infrastructure first.

The same concept is true in your business. All the “heart” in the world won’t get you to the level of success you want, it’s going to take an incredible amount of training, planning, and maintenance for your entire staff to succeed against your competition. That’s why I’m always shocked by the number of potential clients I speak with, who spend all their time and effort on project work, and never look at their infrastructure. Basic questions I ask, like which version of Windows OS are you running, or what release of Bluebeam Revu do you have installed, are commonly met with replies such as: “Uh, I’m not sure . . . we have a bunch of different licenses, and some folks are using one version, some another.” Now, you might think that was a reasonable answer from the owner, who may not have that information handy, but I have this conversation with I.T. Directors all the time!

The problem is that companies focus on the workload and forget their infrastructure. If you’re just buying more seats of a product and slapping it on new users’ systems as they come onboard, or giving updates only to people who ask for it, you’re inviting disaster. Not only that, but you’re also losing an incredible amount of revenue, and production. Having users on different versions of software reduces their performance and causes data incompatibility, possibly even data loss. By the same token, if you don’t train your staff on the best use of the software then they can’t effectively use it to make you money! Just like a military organization, you need to invest in training, equipment, planning, and maintenance. That means you need to get your folks on the same platforms, train them on how to use them to help you be profitable, have a plan in place for regular upgrades, and allow for continuous refreshers of both training and systems. If you’re not doing these things, then your company is not consistent, and consistency is the only way to succeed at anything in life.

Consider it like this: how successful do you think my Cavalry unit would have been if we’d been driving four different type of vehicles, that ran on three types of fuel, with a dozen different weapons left over from WWII and Vietnam? What if, on top of that, none of us had ever been trained on how to drive the vehicles, or to use the weapons – we just sort of figured it out as we went along? That type of structure is a recipe for complete disaster, in either the military or in business. Take a look at your own technical infrastructure and consider if you’re really setting your staff up to succeed, or dooming them to failure because you’re not consistent. Don’t get complacent because “It’s been working so far”. Remember what the First Sergeant said:

Complacency kills soldiers, but consistency kills complacency!”

Jim C.

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