Is Consistency the Guarantor of Success or a Hobgoblin?

“Small disciplines repeated with consistency everyday lead to great achievements gained slowly over time.” John Maxwell, Leadership guru

“What you do every day is more important than what you do once in awhile. “Mark LeBlanc, Growing Your Business

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…With consistency, a great soul has simply nothing to do.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet writer, lecturer

Wait a minute! Here are two successful people telling you to be consistent and one renowned thinker criticizing consistency as a hobgoblin. Which is it?

I think it’s both. The danger we face is not correctly choosing what we’re consistent about.

When Consistency Pays

My Top 5 daily or regular activities for executives and owners:

1. Cultivating and nurturing your current buyers. Just because someone bought one product or service does not mean they’ll buy it again without prompting; and just because they bought one product or service doesn’t mean they know what else you offer. Consistently cultivating creates consistent buyers over long periods. Included under this umbrella are all business development activities. Consistency here has a direct line to getting unstuck from the revenue plateau.
2. Providing excellent customer experiences, including during the getting-to-know you phase, the buying phase and the delivery phase. Get known for consistent excellence. It starts at the front door, phone or website and continues for as long as a buyer remains a buyer.
3. Build value into everything and then consistently talk about it to your buyers. Designing products and services around the value of the outcome to the buyer allows you to differentiate your offerings. Consistently market value, not features and benefits. Avoid comparisons to the competition and never discount.
4. Making time for new product and service development. The CEO, owner or partners must consistently allocate at least three hours a week to designing what the future of the company will be. Put this time in your weekly schedule and do not give it up. Consistently envisioning the future, both in terms of the coming months and the coming years, will lead to those things coming into existence. There is no substitute or shortcut.
5. Prioritizing employees needs, desires and contributions. This includes consistently talking to employees about their daily work. Do they have ideas about how to do it better? Listen and act. Make time and space to hear them talk about your buyers. Your front-line people know more than you will ever know about your buyers. How do the company’s policies and processes work in their daily experiences? What adaptations should you make? Nothing is ever perfect or final. Consistent respect and appreciation for your employees will consistently generate more profitable revenue.

When Consistency is a Hobgoblin

A hobgoblin is someone or something that creates mischief. Isn’t it fascinating to think that something your company does consistently can cause mischief instead of success? Emerson captures this perfectly with his modifier ‘foolish.’ Consider how these 5 consistent activities fool you into believing that you’re going somewhere.

My Top Five Hobgoblins

1. Time management. Every busy person latches onto the latest schemes about time management. This is a hobgoblin because you fool yourself into believing that because all time is the same, all work done in those hours is the same. This is not true.
2. Productivity. Executives and owners often believe that if they increase productivity, they’ll increase revenue and profit. This is a hobgoblin for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s nearly impossible to measure the productivity of people whose work is based on intellectual property or consumer services; and 2) it also ignores the quality (profit) of the activities being measured. This is much harder to do than simply tracking processes or activities. Don’t get so enamored of tracking tools that you miss the impact of the work being tracked.
3. To-Do Lists. Not all tasks or activities contribute the same value (or any value) to the company, therefore consistently adding things to your To-Do List is a mischief maker. Crossing off your items makes you feel good in the moment but may not actually contribute to your company’s success.
4. Processes and methodologies. Another widespread belief in the business community is that processes and methodologies are necessary to increase repeatability, and repeatability guarantees more profits. It’s expensive to reinvent the wheel each day. This hobgoblin ignores the fact that in many instances, buyers value customization and will pay more for it. When you consistently offer company processes and methodologies, you’re disappointing great buyers and reducing opportunities for increasing profits.
5. Hourly billing. There are millions of companies that sell their services based on the number of hours it will take to deliver them. Companies take pride in rate sheets; in consistently charge the same rates to all buyers, even if they have different rates for different services. This hobgoblin is more than a mischief maker. It puts your company in a gravely unethical position: the buyer benefits from getting their outcome sooner, and your company benefits from taking longer to deliver. If you choose to stop doing only one of these Top 5, choose to stop charging by the hour. The alternative, fixed fees commensurate with the value of the outcome, will grow your profitable revenue more steadily than any hourly billing practice ever can.

Be very clear about the times when consistency is a hobgoblin and when it is the discipline you need for success. If you need clarity, we are happy to help. Give us a call 703-801-0345.

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