Some people and organizations go to great extremes to place spins, rationalize or save face. Often, sweeping generalizations involve making far-fetched excuses or scapegoating someone else.
Criticizing others may be cloaked as a subtle or even polite dialog. Yet, behind these often-voiced expressions lie fallacies in reasoning, the wrong facts, jealousy, animosity, personal self-defeat or cluelessness of the speaker.
When people pose the following questions or statements, there often lurk sarcasm or hidden agendas behind the ‘seemingly innocent’ comments.
Failing to make investments in future company success:
- I’m building a new house right now. Just took a vacation. Got to send the kid to college (or some other personal reason).
- We just bought a piece of computer software.
- Have to make cuts everywhere else to pay for rising production costs.
- We make a good product… that should be enough.
- Why must we spend time on things other than our core business?
- We can dispense with all that employee training and professional development.
- We just cannot afford to make the investments.
Rationalizing organizational setbacks:
- We were growing too fast anyway.
- It was time to pull in our reins and get back to basics.
- We took a risk once, and it didn’t work out.
- This hasn’t been our lucky year.
- If we didn’t have so much (any) competition, then we would be on Easy Street.
- That was caused by previous management. We blame it on them.
- We’re lean and mean now… cut out all the fat.
- Our people just need to work a little harder.
- Economic forces beyond our control are at work. But, we’re still making money.
- If our people would think more about what they’re doing, then we would be successful.
- That’s our problem… people thinking but not doing… people doing but not thinking.
Rationalizing poor service or quality:
- You won’t get it any better elsewhere. If you don’t believe it, go try to find out.
- We’re number one in sales.
- Our people were hired to do their jobs. They know what they’re doing.
- Nobody has complained about this issue before. The problem must be with you.
- Quality is our middle name.
- We’ve got the latest technology.
- If you can do so much better, why don’t you go try.
- Profitability is all that matters.
- Customers are a dime a dozen. They can be easily replaced.
- We’re running this business for us, not for them.
- We got an automated phone system to take care of all that.
- Customer service is as good as it always was. Quality is as good as it ever will be.
Blaming problems upon others:
- Our consultant told us to do it.
- We’re waiting to see what (governmental entity) will do.
- We’re good at what we do. No need to change.
- People are expendable. If they don’t like it, they can leave. Workers are easily replaced.
- Our accountant says we cannot afford that right now.
- Our ad campaign backfired.
- We’re too worried about _____ (some item in the news… the latest source of gossip).
- Interest rates are too high.
- Our lawyer can take care of any problems that arise. Until then, it’s business as usual.
- Ethics and standards… those are for chumps. Making the big bucks is all that matters.
Avoiding change, denying the need for change:
- What worked before works now… always will.
- Things will always stay the same here.
- Once the PR crisis passes, things will get back to normal.
- Can’t change the weather or the world. So, why bother trying to change anything else.
- That’s just the way he-she is. Learn to live with it.
- Our human resources department takes care of that.
- We’re afraid of litigation.
- There’s not a thing that we can do to change things. The status quo is perfectly acceptable.
- That’s the way the cookie crumbles. That’s life. What are you gonna do about it?
Not engaging in planning for future operations:
- So what are you gonna do about it?
- There’s too much talk about planning. We’re just busy doing things.
- We have a Mission Statement.
- Money covers up a lot of ills.
- We have annual sales projections.
- Good things happen to good people. It will be our turn soon.
- Surely, things will work themselves out.
Common Sense Retorts to Sweeping Generalizations
Here are some of the common mis-statements that people make. Some do so to avoid addressing the real business issues head-on. Others never had the rationales and their implications explained to them properly.
The savvy business executive or advisor will offer pro-active follow-ups. Trite statements should not just sit as they are made. By responding realistically and with an eye toward company improvement, you’ll be doing colleagues a service. Examples:
This company reflects the character of its CEO. Sadly, that’s true… to extremes. Many companies are ego-driven. The wise CEO is one who listens to others, surrounds himself-herself with smart people and fosters a spirit of teamwork. A good company is not predicated upon one personality but, instead, has adopted a corporate culture that thinks and feels.
Our company has got the most up to date technology. Companies spend disproportionate amounts of money on technology and neglect their people, processes and policies. Technology represents less than 1% of an organization’s pie chart. Technology should be addressed as a tool of the trade… the bigger issues being a cohesive plan of action and organizational vision.
We must be doing something right. Some companies succeed in their early stages because of raw energy. Conditions change…as should the companies. We must encourage colleagues to honestly examine reasons for their initial success and caution them that Continuous Quality Improvement is necessary. Companies must always grow to “the next tier” and not rest upon laurels.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This is probably the worst cop-out. There is no organization that is totally perfect and cannot stand some fine-tuning.
We are a very quality-oriented company. Quality is as quality does. Some organizations pay considerable lip service to quality but are clueless as to what it really is, what it means or how it can be sustained. Quality is a conscious, continuous effort to plan, think, act and measure. Quality is neither a quick fix for problems nor a shortcut to success and riches.
We know what our customers want. This is usually said to challenge suggestions that better customer service might be necessary. Sadly, companies pay mostly lip service toward customer service. They don’t stimulate enough dialog. When you suggest that a more targeted customer focus would benefit all, including their bottom line, management often gets pious, argumentative and confrontational. Or, they just look the other way, while the customers go elsewhere.
Success speaks for itself. People who enjoy temporarily high sales love to crow. To them, monetary volume is the ‘definition’ of success. You should do with business with them because they are a “winner,” so they claim. In reality, no single market shift speaks completely for itself. Sales rankings vary, with various influencers. Many factors contribute toward long-term success, which is a road filled with ups and downs. Everything is subject to interpretation. Organizations must educate consumers, in a pro-active way, on how to best utilize their products-services.
Ways to Avoid Negative Euphemisms:
- Put more emphasis upon substance, rather than flash and sizzle.
- Look outside the organization, instead of keeping your total focus internal.
- Challenge negative comments and make accusers accountable for false claims.
- Keep communications open and continual.
- Refrain from making false representations.
- Abilities to think, reason, take risks and feel gut human instincts must all be nurtured.
- Take advice from all sources. Do research. Get informed counsel from seasoned advisers.
- Document and comprehend the reasons for successes.
- Empower the organization to embrace/embody the corporate culture.
- Learn to manage change, rather than become a victim of it.
About the Author
Power Stars to Light the Business Flame, by Hank Moore, encompasses a full-scope business perspective, invaluable for the corporate and small business markets. It is a compendium book, containing quotes and extrapolations into business culture, arranged in 76 business categories.
Hank’s latest book functions as a ‘PDR of business,’ a view of Big Picture strategies, methodologies and recommendations. This is a creative way of re-treading old knowledge to enable executives to master change rather than feel as they’re victims of it.