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It’s Not Enough Just To Own Your Business

Due to the recession, all business people have been more involved in their business than they have in many years.  The business people willing to dig in and hang in there month after month during the economic turmoil are still in business.  It’s important to realize that although you will see from time to time optimistic reports of the economy recovering, it’s not over yet.  On a day by day basis, keep your guard up.  Watch your expenses.  Make sales and marketing a priority.  That brings us to the title of this blog post: It’s not enough just to own your business.

I recently read a book review in the Wall Street Journal (Thursday, January 21, 2010, Problems With Protocols) for The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande.  The book is about the importance of checklists not only in the medical profession but in any industry.

One of the statements in the review is that “Checklists, although valuable in some settings, are a menace in others.”  Yet, as the review notes, the book closes with a recount of the crash landing on the Hudson River in January 2009 of a USAirways plane.  The “Miracle on the Hudson” as it has come to be known, happened not just because the crew had been drilled in various procedures but because, as the review states, Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger focused on flying the plane, not a checklist of how to fly the plane.  As William Langewiesche put it in his account, “Fly By Wire”:  “There was no time for the ditching checklist…  Across a lifetime of flying, Sullenberger had developed an intimacy with these machines that is difficult to convey.  He did not sit in airplanes so much as put them on.  He flew them in a profoundly integrated way as an expression of himself.” 

Because of Sullenberger’s extensive training and experience, he knew he didn’t have to spend time thinking about the right course of action.  He just knew what to do in intuitively.  He wasn’t just flying the plane but he was one with the aircraft.  Although he had met his co-pilot just days before, because they were both such professionals and so well trained and flew by training, skill, knowledge and intuition, he didn’t need to explain to his co-pilot what he was doing.  Sullenberger took all the right actions and his co-pilot instinctively and intuitively knew what to do.  If they had just flown the airplane, the results would have been very different and may not have resulted in the headline making aviation miracle. 

As a CEO, president or business owner, you don’t just run a business, you ARE the business.  You need to not only understand your business but you need to also open your mind up and become part of what is happening around you so that you can make the right decisions based on knowledge, experience and an intuitive understanding of what your employees and customers need in order for your business to be successful.

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