You Can’t Fix “Stupid”


You can’t argue with the statement that “Some People are just average,” and some do really stupid things. If you work at a company that has significant issues, more than likely they’re a product of someone’s doing and not without cause. Some people have developed useless products that cannot compete in the marketplace. Some companies have developed solid products, but failed to develop the right marketing strategy and the product failed to launch. In other cases, the product and strategy were strong, yet sales were flat due to weak sales management and execution. In each case, the common denominator is that people screwed things up. Where do bad products and strategies come from anyway? People! Yes, well-meaning people who either lacked the ability to conceive of or execute what the market needed to produce the right outcome. Regardless of where the blame is laid, the buck stops at the top of the org chart.

Executive leadership must quickly recognize when the wrong people are in the wrong place in their organization. They must identify the heart of the problem and find the solution or else they will, themselves, be at risk. Where is the solution to the problem, you ask? It is in the mind of a person or persons who have yet to be exposed to the problem. The solution to virtually every problem that exists in your company has a name. Your answer in times of trouble is PEOPLE! The easy part is the “gap analysis” to figure out what is missing. The challenge is finding the best person to replace them who possesses the right stuff to bring fresh perspective and creativity to bear and fix the problem. Let’s be honest, all people are not equal, despite the prevalence of “Participation Trophies.” Our culture hates to admit that there are those who “Over-Achieve,” those who “Achieve” and those who “Under-Achieve.” Not everyone who dons an LA Lakers jersey is a “Kobe Bryant.” Admittedly, it is possible that an “Under-Achiever” could possibly be an “Over-Achiever” in a different area, function or company. It depends upon their “mosaic” of competency, character and chemistry. Different people have different talents, experiences, abilities, skills-natural and learned.

Any executive whose company is experiencing difficulty must find the right people to solve their organizations toughest problems. Prior to starting this process, the executive must evaluate whether they CAN hire an “Over-Achiever”. Not all companies are capable of doing this based upon a variety of factors, ie. culture, value proposition, compensation. Is the company one where people are empowered, or is the culture one of politics and fear? It won’t do you any good to hire the right kind of person to solve your complex problems if they are not enabled to thrive in the environment with autonomy. This caliber of person must have the freedom to do what they deem necessary to fix the problems or they will not be effective. This is why so many smaller companies out-perform larger ones. The larger companies are stuck in a political rut. The hierarchy has become the driving force in the company and no longer the ideas that people create. When this happens, people who are visionaries become stifled and grow frustrated and before you know it, they’ve moved on. Before you hire one of these Over-Achievers and task them with fixing your problems, you’ve got to determine if the problem is Systemic or not. If your problem is systemic as in cultural, you must concurrently address this problem or suffer. Even cultural problems are a result of having the wrong people in control and can be improved by the right leadership. Notice that I didn’t say, “New Leadership,” because the best person for the role may already be in a different role within the company. Be ready for things to get shaken up if you are addressing a cultural issue. Most often changes of this sort are very welcome to the rank and file. Regardless of your problem, you must find the right person to solve the problem. Sometimes, it takes a fresh perspective, one with objectivity to identify the source of the problem. Whether the best person to address the problem is within or needs to be recruited, it requires action!

The point that I am driving home is that EVERY problem in a company has its solution in a PERSON. How you arrive at that point is up to you.

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7 thoughts on “You Can’t Fix “Stupid”

  1. Hi Drue, I was just ahead of you today – makes a pleasant change!

    I agree. I would only add there’s nothing so stupid it can’t be done wrong, and I’ve seen some very clever people do some very dumb things. Sometimes setting a culture to allow people to make mistakes, but to never repeat them can be helpful.

    Have a good weekend.

  2. Hi Drue, happy new year to you; the card to Scottsdale came back?

    Thank you for the nice read, hitting the nail on the head. Are you at the AAOS?

    See you somewhere, best regards from Switzerland, AJ

    • AJ, Thank you! We moved last April into a new office. We will be at AAOS in San Francisco next month. Our new address is 9815 E. Bell Rd, Suite 120, Scottsdale, AZ 85260.

      Wishing you a wonderful 2012!

  3. I understand some time the most cleaver person do the dumb things ,but repeting it again and again is the blunder.

    Wishing you a great sucess in life.

  4. Drue-
    I believe the definition of “insanity” is repeating the same things over and over, expecting a different result…. You have hit the nail on the head – You can’t fix stupid!

    • Dave, You obviously “get it.” It is hard to understand why companies fail to try a different approach, but many seem to stick with what “works” even though the results are marginal at best.

      Much success to you!

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