When we were building the Barefoot wine brand, we used to drive our people crazy. Every time there was a foul up, a glitch, or a mistake, we would stop everything, focus on what just happened, and more importantly brain storm ways to prevent it from reoccurring.
Our people would push back with, “Look, we’ve solve the problem can’t we just move on!” or “Don’t worry about it! it’s all taken care of!” Like all we were interested in was moving on and quickly getting by the problem. But neither one of these responses makes the problem less likely to reoccur. The door is still open for an expensive and painful encore in the future.
Philosophically, we, as owners and leaders, took the position that preventing a reoccurrence was more important that the quick fix, brushing it under the rug, or washing our hands of the problem. It’s going to come back! And if you don’t take it seriously, it will damage your business.
So, what can you do? One way is to be proactive, and not reactive. In other words, anticipate a misunderstanding, glitch, or foul up before it occurs. Don’t just wait for it to show its ugly head again. Take steps to prevent it in advance.
For example, establish and use crosschecks. Get into the habit of double checking your work before it goes live. And set up other crosschecks, like putting another set of eyes on it, to prevent it from happening again.
And once you have set up the procedures, use them! We would require a rewrite of a procedure. If that didn’t work, we would require a check list. If that didn’t work, we would require a sign off sheet. If that didn’t work we would send out a pink termination notice.
When you act reactively instead of proactively you are sending a message to your boss that says, “I really don’t care about this job, I just need the money!” Show your boss and your customers that you do care. Act proactively to improve their experience by voluntarily developing new procedures that reduce the likely hood of reoccurrence and follow the procedures you do have in place that will prevent new mistakes before they happen.
Because we were such sticklers for proactive prevention, one of our people complained, “You guys are trying to make everything idiot proof! To which we responded, “No we’re not, we are just trying to make things idiot resistant!” to which he retorted, “But even now, as we sit here, trying to make things idiot resistant, they’re building a better idiot!”
And, it’s because of the better idiot that proactive people will always be indispensable and never run out of work! It is also why companies with proactive people will have the best practices and succeed in spite of the “better idiots”!
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
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