Give complacency the pink slip. The first of this four-part Breakthrough Performance series explains why business results are stalled by false assumptions.

When business results are stagnant, it’s a sign that complacency is undermining performance. Executives blame the economy, the competition, and other factors when business is bad, but consider this: Negative mindsets and bad habits hold back the enterprise.

Do these phrases sound familiar?
“We’re not allowed to say no.”
“It takes time to build a team.”
“We don’t have the resources.”

When we surveyed 400 executives, 42% of them admitted that they were frustrated by complacent employees. Complacency creeps into the daily conversations that constitute the enterprise, stalling new initiatives and innovations with processes and procedures that are outdated.

In practical terms, complacency undermines business performance because no one attempts the unreachable or the unusual. It’s business-as-usual mode for setting timelines, financial goals, and product launches.

At one vision-care company we worked with, a product launch exceeded their expectations. That’s great, right? Except for this: They couldn’t keep up with demand. Based on past performance, managers estimated it would take 18 to 24 months to ramp up production.

Customers started turning to the competition.

During the first phase of our Breakthrough Performance methodology, called Reveal, employees discovered that 80% of what they thought about their abilities to change production timelines simply wasn’t true. Complacency had crept into their organization over time, turning “how we’ve always done it” into something that was holding them back. Change is scary for employees when they feel like their job is on the line; giving a safe or predictable estimate of when something could get done wasn’t based on laziness, but fear. But think about the impact — customers were turning to the competition because the timeline estimate was based on wrong information.

The Reveal step demonstrates the current (embedded and hidden) context or worldview. In any enterprise there is a set of beliefs, assumptions, truths, and unwritten rules that determine what people see as possible, the actions they take, and the results they produce.

The end result after a Breakthrough Project and leadership development program? The production ramp-up was reduced 75%. Instead of 18 to 24 months, they did it in five months.

They transformed their fear and eliminated complacency. How much more could you accomplish if complacency left your company too?

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