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Hair on Fire

In many businesses and in daily life as well, I have observed a significant problem – most everyone seems to be running around as if their “hair is on fire.” Generally, we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Why is this a significant problem? Let me ask you this: How good a job can you really do with all the things that you need to get done in the time frame allotted and how much stress does it add to your life?

Most folks have become multi-taskers to try and get it all done. I know that appears to be the solution, but there is more and more research coming out that is proving that multi-tasking is stressful and not the best way to conduct business. What multi-tasking really does well is keep the dogs away. In other words, we push lots of things through or at least move them along well enough so that it keeps us out of major trouble while quality suffers. What is the cost? First and foremost the cost is to your health and to the overall quality of your life.

The result of all this stress and subsequent insanity is a major benefit to the Health Care Industry. Doctors are seeing forty patients a day and pharmaceutical and insurance companies are getting richer by the minute. How do you feel when you go to the doctor’s office and barely get an explanation of what is wrong with you, but you do get a prescription written in a hurry? And it’s not all the fault of the doctors because they are under pressure from the insurance companies and regulators to keep their costs in line.

And we continue running around as if our “hair is on fire” and expect that things will get better for us some day. But they don’t, so we schedule another doctor’s appointment and take another pill and keep forging ahead. We have come to know what this stressful lifestyle is doing to our health, but what is it costing our businesses and the nation as a whole? It’s costing us our innovation. We don’t have time to be innovative, we only have time “to do” and as a result the less thought we put into it, the more we think we can get done. The global innovation index ranks the USA at number ten in the world, and that ain’t good folks!

What’s the good news? As mentioned in a previous article, companies like Google and SAS are changing the way we do business by creating environments and time for innovation. Any of you can and should research what these companies do to create a very different culture than the “Hair on Fire” culture that most of you are working in or creating within your organizations.

In a future article I will discuss how having a strategy for everything you do will immediately begin to change your work culture. Whether you are an employer or employee, strategizing will help prevent the fires from happening in the first place.

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