No, I haven’t been spending too much time in the medicine cabinet. Give me a minute and I’ll explain some interesting parallels between House and Fearless Growth and mental pictures of how some of the approaches – and I do mean some –can help our mindset and lead us to profitable revenue growth.
Most of you are familiar with the popular TV series and medical drama House, where a rogue doctor and team take on very challenging cases that – without their effective diagnosis and treatment – will result in the patient dying. This show had the highest viewing audience for its category in 2008 and has continued to pull strong ratings.
So what does House have to do with Fearless Growth? Well, quite frankly a lot! While I take issue with the lead character’s style in dealing with co-workers, patients, and others, his doggedness, determination, and general approach are appealing.
Here are some lessons for those of us charged with diagnosing problems and then quickly turning them around to drive growth:
- Diagnosis is huge. We can learn from House that getting to the bottom of it is very difficult and takes a balance of having the right team, vigilance, process, and willingness to test out a solution before blindly running with it.
- Treating symptoms vs. getting to the root cause. As I’ve stated before in this blog, misdiagnosis is 75% of the reasons why key initiatives fail.
- Benefits of interacting directly with the patient / market / problem / etc. While it’s easier on a couple of hospital floors to pull this off, in business direct engagement needs to be done. The best examples of this are in B2C with companies like P&G.
- Removing the blinders is easier said than done. The folks closest to the problem often find it the most difficult to step back and be objective. In House we see the interplay with hospital management and others (like family) who find it difficult to step back.
- Putting the right team together and focusing them on the task. Getting the right team is essential and having folks that aren’t afraid to voice contrary views. My view is that I accept contrarians as long as they supply constructive suggestions. Having a team that can focus and use a process is invaluable. In the TV show Dr. House uses a dry erase board to brainstorm ideas and get everyone on the same page. In business we have dozens of tools to help facilitate and process for results.
- Having the determination of a junk yard dog is sometimes necessary. While it’s not your company’s life at stake in each case, a lot is riding on what you deliver. And you don’t want to do your competitors too many favors. Someone once said success is 98% perspiration and 2% inspiration/intelligence.
Some key points of difference from House:
- High drama and attacks make for good TV but bad business. I believe that the undercurrent of your team’s attitudes to change will be similar to what is played out, if not managed effectively. Others don’t need to be put on the defensive by being attacked. This doesn’t lend well to garnering support. Many of us have heard of poor bedside manner in doctors, which seem to be tolerated. In contrast, these behaviors can kill a lot of business initiatives. Many leaders tend to overplay the sweet music of PowerPoint slides and style over substance. Many folks that never rise above middle management have great content but get killed on style points. Be careful not to shoot down good ideas on a personal or style basis.
- Making excuses and having too many sidebars is disruptive and affects the credibility an individual or the team.
- Dr. House is not a team player. Each of us of can relate to people, past or present, who create a lot of dust not worrying about who’s affected. This doesn’t work well at all in the corporate environment but seems to be tolerated in healthcare and with doctors (especially on TV).
House is a good show to use to get your point across and help others on the team to visualize what you want as a leader, with some obvious qualifications. It also injects some fun and comedy when facing tough challenges on an overloaded business agenda.
Let’s bring fearless growth out of the closet and talk it up. Yes, growth is often assumed and understood, but in the end it’s an exercise that most B2B firms file away with their finance groups. So if you’re in a health crisis, do you want Doogie Houser or House on the case?