Say no to chuckSometimes it’s impossible to get useful information for my dealership in the cabinet industry. You know, content which really helps me improve my business. It rarely comes from any source, really, and when it finally does come I get so excited at the title of the article…only to be deeply disappointed after I read it. So after reading a recent article online from a major magazine of ours, it reminded me of a story…

Meet Chuck

I worked at a large corporation once before I decided I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was good for a while, but then it just became so hard to get simple things done.

As we grew, so did the layers of management until finally I realized in every meeting there were always one or two complete dumb-asses slowing us down.

One day Chuck, a manager who spent most of his time managing what other people thought of him instead of completing his work, joined a brainstorming session we were having in the conference room. He wasn’t invited, but apparently his new title of “Manager” gave him the right. He recently read his manager expectations and there was this one line that said how, as a manager, you should “leverage internal knowledge bases”.

It all sounded so great and probably made everyone feel good at the 500,000 foot level — at the time, it was easy to visualize the executive team talking that we needed to “leverage” what we had already learned as a critical success factor for next year’s goals. And I’m sure everyone was impressed. What a great idea!

But somehow when lofty, gray goals like this roll down the food chain, no one really knows how to make it a reality. It’s just too gray. So in this case HR just put that statement on everyone’s expectation list and let us all try to figure it out on our own. At the end of the year we found ourselves saying “Yes, I leveraged internal knowledge bases!” Your reviewer would then say “Great — let me check that off for you, good job!”. Then the chart would be filled out that 97% of our employees leveraged internal knowledge bases and executives were satisfied. Silly, really.

So a group of 5 of us were getting a lot of things done and Chuck was being relatively quiet. Our group had worked together for a while, we meshed well and we resolved challenges quickly. Most of the meeting Chuck was silent until near the end when he said, in a somewhat overbearing way, “I think you guys need to leverage our internal knowledge bases better”.

What is That Smell???

You ever sit in a meeting and someone says something completely inane and everyone else gets this funny look — almost like someone passed gas in the meeting and now everyone has to act like it didn’t happen even though their eyes are watering?

So everyone was looking at Chuck like he was (and still is) a complete moron, but because of his new title we all just sat there in awkward silence, looked at each other for a second, then moved on to discussion with a little more substance.

Good Content is Hard to Find in this Industry

I read everything I can get my hands on in this industry and, quite frankly, the majority of it sounds like stuff Chuck would say.

For example, I read an article this month on how we should all have a business coach. What a great idea! I think we should all wipe several times too but I don’t write entire articles about it. A major bullet point of the article talks at one point about the importance of being “aware” that alternatives exist because alternatives “will lead to different results”.

I mean seriously guys — is it just me or is this not ridiculously obvious?

Now, of course, this author is selling business coaching so his articles always fall on deaf ears, but check out these other highly insightful recommendations:

  • Pain causes change
  • We should have a Vision statement
  • We need a strategic plan
  • Action leads to change
  • We need the right environment
  • When a cat craps in the woods, and no one is there, it doesn’t really smell

(Ok, so I made that last line up, but the others were real.)

This is the kind of content which just isn’t helpful. It’s no wonder our industry struggles so badly. It’s the 500,000 foot view of how we can all simply make life better if we write a check to the author to procure his business coaching. But it isn’t anything we can actually do or implement after reading his article. The only thing his recommendations would do is move HIS business forward since he will sell more business coaching.

Just for once it would be great to have a FILTER in this industry on what is actually published in the magazines. And the filter should be this:

If I can’t read your article and walk away with at least ONE thing I can implement on Monday ON MY OWN to improve my situation — then don’t waste my time. Because seriously — we all have better things to do right now.

just say no
Just Say No

SO I vote we all “Say No to Chuck.” And I vote we all send regular emails to the magazines demanding some insight which is actually useful. And when we all read silly articles like the one I was referring to earlier, let’s send the editor a piece of our mind in the form of an email in the hopes that they’ll stop wasting our time.

But that’s just me, stirring up the pot.

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