I’ve been thinking lately about why businesses and organizations fail. And, I remembered the Seven Deadly Sins I learned in my youth:
Our sins, as we learn from religious teaching, corrupt our character and cloud our sense of what is right and wrong. Most important, they form a habit pattern that leads to our downfall. It works that way for organizations, too.
Here are the seven deadly sins for business success today:
• Arrogance: Pride in the work, organization, and results transforms into arrogance when you lose touch with reality. Arrogant organizations come across as conceited and self-important. Their arrogance blinds them to opportunities for improvement and changes in the world around them.
• Ignorance: The root word here is “ignore.” These organizations ignore the metrics and measures that tell them if they are being successful. They ignore customer feedback and employee input. And, they ignore the realities of the marketplace.
• Greed: These organizations don’t want their fair share. They want it all. Their total focus on winning ultimately causes them to become reckless. Ethical and even legal lines are routinely crossed based on the justification of winning.
• Sloth: Lazy and indifferent. These organizations fail to utilize their strengths and talents and lack the sense of urgency to take focused action to drive results.
• Disdain: These organizations don’t like their customers, employees, or vendors. They rarely say that others are unworthy of their respect, but it is evident in every interaction. If you have ever felt that you were consistently a bother to an organization, you have experienced the feeling of disdain.
• Opacity: Markets and relationships are built on trust, and trust requires transparency in motives, actions, and communication. The opaque organization leaves you wondering if you are hearing the complete truth or if the information is being spun for their benefit. Opacity in your operation increases cost to manage risk and create oversight. Opacity with customers and staff creates mistrust. There are always things that you cannot and should not share, but transparency is king in a world where mistrust is the default position.
• Stagnation: Organizations and people are like plants – green and growing or brown and dying. Customers expect you to be better tomorrow than you are today. They expect you to be on the cutting edge of your product or service. The stagnate organization will become irrelevant and then it will cease to exist.
Which of these seven sins have you seen in your organization? Are they occasional lapses or habits? The marketplace will forgive an occasional lapse, and it punishes consistent transgression with poor results, higher costs, mistrust, and eventual extinction.