Beware of ‘sound bite’ solutions

Having performance issues with an employee? Just Google a solution. Still stuck on that tough business decision? Just post a question on a zillion different discussion groups. Looking for some insights on a particular topic? Just attend a 60-minute Webinar – or a breakout class at a trade show – rather than attend a multi-day seminar where you’ll get all the information and hands-on learning you really need.

My sound-bite warning applies to book summaries too. As an author myself, I can tell you that it’s impossible to get the full meaning, message and essence of a book through a CliffNotes summary. It’s like comparing a Twitter Tweet to a comprehensive White Paper. One is a thought. The other is detailed research. Would you consider making a business decision based on 140-character Tweet? I hope not – even if that Tweet leads you to another “sound bite” of information.

Having unlimited access to an ever-expanding resource of global knowledge is a mixed blessing. Within seconds you can be reading a possible solution to a problem or that missing link to complete your latest innovation. But are you reading sound bites? Is that response to a discussion group post just a sound-bite solution that worked for someone else’s business – but may not work for yours?

In this age of instant information, the danger of sound-bite solutions is to confuse them with real solutions based on data, research and documented outcomes.

Here are some strategies to avoid getting sucked into the sound-bite vortex:

  • View sound bites as breadcrumbs: That’s all they are – breadcrumbs that may lead you to a solution that will work for you.
  • Research takes work: If you’re looking for shortcuts and quick fixes, try feeding your company some of those breadcrumbs you just found and see what happens. If your company needs a complete change of diet and three square meals a day, those breadcrumbs won’t go very far.
  • Quick fixes are nothing more than duct tape: I’ve been in the coaching and consulting business most of my working career. Not a day goes by without a leader asking for a quick fix. Here’s my favorite: “I have an employee who’s doing big numbers. How much should I pay her?” My response is usually, “I’d pay her $100,000.” Then I get, “But I can’t afford that!” Then I ask, “What can you afford?” From there we can drill down to the financial and budgetary issues that represent one aspect of awarding a pay raise.
  • The right solution may require an investment: It all depends on the nature and gravity of the problem. If you’re not good with numbers, you may need a coach with the financial know-how to get you to a solution. Maybe it’s hiring a coach, working with a mentor – or investing the time and money to get into a seminar or business program where you can get what you need. We hear, “It’s not in the cash flow,” all the time. But the problem is costing you money today, tomorrow and the day after. How long will it take you to find the solution on your own? Investing in the right resource will likely cost you far less than the financial bleeding that’s going on.

This Monday Morning Wake-Up is a sound bite. But it is one sound bite you can start using immediately that will save you time, money and frustration in the long run.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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