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Don’t confuse ‘before’ with ‘because’

by on
in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

  • Your organization downsized last year, closed its telemarketing center and hired an outside call center instead. This year, sales slumped 6 percent. Around the water cooler, folks are saying it’s because “management” fired the experienced phone reps.
  •  Six months ago, one of your organization’s new products flopped and was pulled off the shelves. Last week, your head of marketing resigned. People are saying she left in shame because the product failed.

In business, it’s always tempting to say that something that happened last year caused something that happened last week. In other words, to equate “before” with “because.” Yet, keenminded execs know that easy assumption often avoids the real work that’s needed to understand events.

To think more deeply about the situations described above:

  • Perhaps your dropping sales are due to new products your competitors introduced, to a drop in your products’ quality … or to some factor that has nothing to do with your telemarketing. Dig until you understand the real cause.
  • Perhaps no connection exists between your product’s failure last year and the former marketing chief’s departure. Maybe she left for a job developing something new that will blow your product line away. If you don’t think to ask, you could lose your competitive edge.

Lesson: Effective leaders buck common wisdom and dig deeper to expose events’ real causes.

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