Bandaids Don't Fix Bullet Holes- Music Series Pt 1Jan 24, 2023
By Klark Brown (no AI used in this writing)
I would love to think this blog post will be THE THING that finally helps you become a master at recognizing the things that we try very hard not to face or approach.
The phrase “Bandaid for Bullet Holes” sounds like a great anecdote by Mark Twain.
It sounds like something you would hear from a sarcastic comedy actor on your favorite show.
"Bandaids On A Bullet Hole" is a song by a wildly popular young country singer/ songwriter. Morgan Wallen also has a respectable mullet that proves that the 80s may indeed be making a comeback.
I am riding in my truck one day when this song comes on. I look over at my stereo and notice the title. I felt the proverbial WHACK across my face. The phrase seriously struck me.
In an instant, it reminded me of what I often do. I also can surmise that it happens with many people.
The idea or context that I attach to this is we often look for a quick fix for an issue that certainly has a larger issue underneath.
Now we can chalk this up to being super busy, grinding, or doing our best to multi-task. That's what driven people do, right?
Problem is this is only a temporary fix for what is a much bigger problem.
There does seem to be some mystical and magical power that Johnson & Johnson puts into those adhesive strips.
One bandaid on a scraped knee as a young kid had me back going full speed down the road again.
But I want to look at the phrase in how we run our businesses and most things in our lives.
Big Problems Seldom Solve Themselves
How does the annoyingly accurate phrase go? “Bad news doesn’t go away the longer you wait”
When we talk about Bandaids, we mean some sort of immediate or fast-acting resolution so we don’t lose any precious time. Something that keeps us going to keep covering up our terrible time management or business triage deficiencies.
But all too often…..the issue we see on the surface is simply only a superficial symptom. The “Bullet Hole” is a deeper, more systematic issue.
It’s probably not a new problem, but an old untreated wound with a bandaid. That issue continued to fester and has now turned into a full-blown ailment. One that is affecting far more parts of your organization than it was originally.
Why Do We Avoid Fixing the Bigger Issues?
I think there are dozens of reasons. They may include:
- Fixing the issue may cause you what feels like more hardship (staffing related). Especially when already shorthanded.
- The problem may be one's self and you aren’t ready to face that beast now.
- It could be financial. To fix or properly repair the issue, would be over the budget you have for that.
- Poor Diagnostics Skills. The issue may be in your P&L or company expenses and you use a bookkeeper, telling yourself that they handle that.
While all of these might be reasonable, that doesn’t mean they are ok to continue.
The pain from big injuries or issues is designed to be a signal. An indicator that the problem is there and not to be ignored.
If we look at this in terms of a vehicle, we do the same. Figure out a quick cheaper fix.
But we are carrying the most important things in these vehicles.
If finances are the reason we use bandaids, that's a race to the bottom and may speak more to the financial health of the company. Profits are too small, cash flow is critical, overhead is too high, products or services are not quality or marketing is deficient.
As you see, there are a lot of avenues this dilemma takes us, which is again why many avoid them.
Improve your TRIAGE Skills
That word, TRIAGE, is a favorite of mine when I am teaching business health.
The definition of the word:
- the process of determining the most important people or things from amongst a large number that requires attention.
"a system of educational triage that allows a few students to get help while the needs of others are neglected"
Generally…..taking a deeper, more objective search for the bigger issue.
In combat, you will see medics in the field use seriously rudimentary actions. This is because of a lack of options. It's an attempt to preserve life, to get them back to real professionals. Medics are not equipped for internal surgery. Only IV, Morphine, and Suck Pads. Look it up.
Luckily we are not clearing hostile buildings in Ramadi, Iraq. We are trying to run a thriving business that serves a VERY important role in communities. We owe that community an operationally efficient enterprise so that we can perfectly execute the project we are hired for.
The goal here is to create a process and system that the leadership and management throughout the organization will pause before placing a bandaid. They need to take ownership and accountability for the fact that they have been assigned the responsibility of being the eyes and ears of the organization. When the division or department fails, they should fear that it will reflect badly on their management.
That said, we will next talk about leadership's responsibility to ensure anyone put into a supervision position is adequately armed with the tools to triage and diagnose issues.
If that isn’t present, then the failure is from the top down and is likely to cause 10x more problems than the one just before us.
Tools for Identifying the Bullet Hole
You and your team simply need to first identify the lack of processes to do this better in an executive meeting.
Next, you will meet all managers and supervisors to advise them that you are taking on a large-scale shift and that you would like all of their help in designing it.
This alone will immediately improve the culture and probably solve 30-50% of the lack of engagement from people not feeling like they are a part of the organization.
Outline the goal. Use positive outcome-based examples and avoid calling anyone out for past errors or failures. Start by asking for their help, not embarrassing them, especially in front of the rest of the team.
After the goal is outlined, and examples shared, ask if they have anything that could be implemented immediately.
Explain that while the urgent nature of what we do certainly rewards quick thinking and solution-based efforts, there may be a much larger underlying topic to dig into. While you may not do it then and there in the field, you need a system to record the item and find dedicated time to sit quietly and develop a plan or speak to a supervisor on how they should handle it.
I am convinced that most people want to do the right thing. They want to be safe, feel appreciated and be in a place they feel they belong. When we rob them of those feelings, we see the tuned-out type. If you are seeing this from people treated well, you hired the wrong people and we can again discuss the bandaid/ bullet hole dynamic with whoever hired them.
Create a document, an idea box, or any form of place that encourages staff to push things up the ladder.
Spend a few months talking about this in your weekly meetings.
Ask everyone if they saw a place where a temp fix was used, but that the bigger things still need to be handled. Then delegate that, coach them to success and evaluate to measure performance.
Then celebrate that success. Loudly and Openly!
Here at Restoration Advisers, almost 100% of our coaching looks like operational efficiency and systems optimization. But what it is truly, is an effort to create freedom and growth.
Freedom from the stress and madness of this complicated and ever-evolving industry for leadership. When we allow the leaders to be LESS burdened by the daily grind, it allows them to focus closer and longer on developing long-term improvements that affect and enrich everyone.
When you are ALWAYS in the middle of the battle, you can never make sure you are ready for the next battle. We just go from skirmish to skirmish, exhausted, angry, and disenfranchised.
Rinse and Repeat. Wake up and do it over.
People burn out and leave.
New people are hired/ trained and then the cycle continues.
Then those that hung in there eventually felt things will not change and check out or leave.
While this example started as a spotlight on one aspect of business, like the subject itself, lead to possibly exposing some much bigger organizational issues.
These areas where Restoration Advisers fit nicely on your team. To work alongside the team, developing clarity on all the little things that create larger things.
No bandaids, but scalable and lasting processes that help future expansion pains.
We know. We ran companies. The list seems to never end and figuring out what to fix next can be foggy.
Reach out to us in the form below and see how our well-rounded team can lean into your company and allow you to do what you dreamt of when you started your company.
Keep the Bandaids handy. They still have a place!
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