Bottlenecks are often seen as problems. And often they are. We’ve all been stuck in traffic due to a highway bottleneck and we’ve all been stuck in line waiting for food while the kitchen tries to catch up to the orders.
However, planned bottlenecks can be a valuable tool. Dams along rivers are great examples of useful planned bottlenecks.
I submit that occasional planned bottlenecks can be good for your business, your career, and your projects. Why? Because sometimes it is best to review, plan, and assess without a crisis or fear of a crisis.
My experience is that most people and most businesses wait until a problem (i.e., an unexpected bottleneck) develops before considering if there are better options or ways to better deal with the issue.
For instance, many years ago my business had hit upon a nice string of projects. We were doing a great job for the clients at a great price for them. Yet I was too inexperienced as a businessman to realize how much better we could have been doing, both in terms of planning, project management, and business cash flow management.
When one major client suddenly (and with little warning) decided to move the project work in-house sooner than originally planned, I was not prepared. It was an unexpected bottleneck to our business operations and growth. I had failed to properly prepare and it turned out to be costly. Had I set up more frequent self-assessments for my operation of the business (something I do now), we would have been ready, even for the surprise of the timing.
Many people that lose their jobs, for whatever reason, are often shocked and surprised. They may have even ignored clear warning signs that their job was in jeopardy. Suddenly, those who planned in advance are typically in a much better situation than most of those that only began planning now they are in a jobless crisis.
The same can be said for advertising and marketing. For example, businesses that only jump to use social media when there is an embarrassing PR crisis often have little credibility. And in a crisis, these companies often misuse these real-time tools because they didn’t practice with them in advance. Communication, including use of social media, is a skill. “Easy to use” does not mean “easy to use well.”
Naturally, we can’t spend our days only thinking of problems and how to avoid them. However, regularly working “on” our life, career and business instead of just “at” these things can bring efficiency, progress and even emotional comfort. It is all a matter of remembering to communicate with ourselves and not just waiting to react every time life throws a problem our way.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website, www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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