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Throw Me A Blindfold--The Cover-Up Stall Keeps You Blind to Powerful Forces

Mar 15, 2008
"Only the mediocre are always at their best."
--Jean Giradoux

Enterprises often unwittingly encourage their people only to be seen by others as successful. When problems arise, then, this desire can lead to a tendency to downplay the seriousness of the problems or even to cover them up.

"To err is human, to forgive divine" is a maxim that the irresistible force enterprise could rewrite as "To err is human, to find out about the error and forgive as much as possible is in our best interest." Frequently, the path to progress in new areas involves a move forward, a setback, another move, another setback, and so forth until a large amount of progress occurs due to the combined benefits of learning from the mistakes and more favorable conditions.

Like the robot mini rovers on Mars making its way through a boulder-strewn field, progress is inevitable but it's not smooth. Robots aren't troubled by the setbacks, but people often are.

When irresistible forces cause major setbacks for a company, many people will seek to see the problems as being limited in scope and duration. They try to hide the problem from others both inside and outside of the business in hopes of redeeming the situation before anyone finds out.

They frequently then proceed to take out-sized risks in a vain effort to get back to where they started. Many times, the actions that got them into trouble originally were at odds with the irresistible forces, and these actions continue to misfire.

This tendency is harmful to companies in two ways: First, the enterprise is delayed in perceiving and responding appropriately to the problem; and, second, the business is exposed to additional harm through the inappropriate actions taken during the cover-up period.

In most organizations, the ethic of the school playground or prison yard prevails: No squealers! An irresistible growth enterprise actually needs a different sense of community: "Cover-ups hurt us all, because they harm us and can even threaten our very existence. Errors only hurt us if they are ignored or covered up."

Clearly, cover-ups must be avoided. To achieve this goal, the environment within an enterprise must be such that individuals feel comfortable reporting problems. In addition, companies need to take a tough stance toward those who engage in cover-ups and be extremely vigilant in rooting them out. Having these principles be well accepted by everyone as part of the irresistible growth enterprise's values is essential.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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