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Have Businesses lost the ability to Think Laterally?


I had an interesting discussion at a recent networking event with a number of business owners. In terms of business sizes – some 1-10 employees a few 11-50 and a couple of 200+ size. The discussion covered many bases, some not entirely business oriented either (as is often the case at networking!).

One interesting point though that got quite a few people animated was their staff and the ability to think and act independently, without supervision.  There was the usual mix of “I don’t want them making decisions – that’s my responsibility” through to “Why can’t they just act within the boundaries I have set them, why must they run everything by me?” Both indicate a potential “overly-controlled” environment which can stifle innovation and creativity needed to differentiate a business from the crowd.

In today’s business environment, with margins being pressured from the cost side and the price/sell side, it is understandable that many business leaders do not welcome autonomy amongst the workforce.  An error of judgement that costs 5% of an overall sale price can easily turn profit to loss in some markets. But how much unaccounted for or unmanaged costs does micromanagement bring? What potential problems are being stored by not allowing our teams and staff to create effective solutions or dare I say feel motivated to make improvements, efficiencies and even go the extra yard to increase sales? Are we sacrificing employee buy in for the sake of taking some controlled risks? If skills aren’t honed and practiced, if talents are not encouraged, then much like sporting ability our businesses ability to compete is diminished. And that is not good for your staff, company or UK PLC in the long run.