Steps to Management Success – Step 44: Use Common Sense

Written By Rick Frishman Published March 31st, 2010

STEP FORTY-FOUR

Use Common Sense

Sometimes you can get so caught up in the inner details of your business or so dazzled by the initial glow of a promising idea that your judgment takes a time-out, if not a leave of absence. When that happens, you don’t need rosy spreadsheet projections or masterpiece PowerPoint presentations or even a Harvard M.B.A. You need a reality check—also known as common sense.

WHAT IT MEANS: Common sense in business is more than knowledge, facts, and figures. It is making reasonable assumptions, having reality-based expectations, and considering alternative possibilities when things don’t go as smoothly as you planned. Common sense tells you that just because you badly want an idea or new product to be a huge success doesn’t mean that it will happen. You have to do your homework. You have to think things through. In the real world, there can be many bumps, pitfalls, and detours on the way to success. Your job as a manager is to anticipate and deal with them as reasonably and comprehensively as possible—and not be seduced by the razzle-dazzle of hype or the boss’s pet idea.

ACTION PLAN: Getting emotionally attached to the successful outcomes of your projects is understandable, and that’s not a bad thing. Visions of success can be a great motivator for you to do your best to realize your goals. But you need yardsticks and research in place to objectively measure progress and possibilities. You may anticipate market needs, but you can’t force them. Be ready to jettison pet projects and campaigns that are not measuring up despite repeated strategic interventions. It’s the commonsense move.

EVEN BETTER: To avoid being blindsided by your own subjectivity, make sure you get clear and honest feedback from others on your team. That’s why it’s so important to create a business environment in which your senior management team can disagree with you. Gaining the benefit of group feedback is a good way to reality-check new strategies and plans. Also, invest in some well-designed market research. In business, facts always trump opinions or expectations—and an ounce of on-target market research is much more sensible than a ton of expensive (and avoidable!) failure.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)


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