What tells you it’s time to stop digging?

diggingaholeThat repentance is necessary for salvation is hardly a principle confined to Christianity. It’s really as simple as saying that if you’ve dug yourself into a hole, you need to:

  1. realize you’re in a hole, and
  2. stop digging,
  3. become open to solutions (aka, a way out)

Until you do these three things, you won’t have much hope of getting out of that hole. Obviously, the sooner you recognize the hole, the easier the process is. Just as obviously, this applies to businesses as well as individuals.

In fact, a lot of hole-digging in business involves maximizing short term profit at the expense of long-term reputation, customer satisfaction, product improvement, etc. Mostly because profitability is fervently measured while the long term things often don’t even have indicators, let alone measurements. This means many companies don’t realize they’ve dug themselves into a hole until a crisis hits.

So what are your early indicators for these “soft” or long-term factors? Have you bothered to set any up, or are crises going to be the only indicator that the hole you’ve dug yourself into is deeper than you can climb out of?


Are you demanding a state of grace, or are you willing to take people as they are?

saint-peter-cardOne of the few things I don’t like about Getting Things Done is the “state of grace” factor.  Meaning you have to start your system from a point at which everything is accounted for on a slip of paper in your in-box, which means you have to take 1-2 days out of your life to get yourself to the starting point.

I think that’s one reason there are far more variants of GTD and people using modified GTD systems than there are actual GTD practitioners. People like the system, but most can’t start from that all-too-hard-to-achieve state of grace.

Similarly, businesses that are willing to take people as they are generally do a whole lot better than businesses that force customers to have gotten their ducks in a row beforehand.

People want solutions, not an “I told you so.”

Think of the difference between a normal university and most online universities. They’ll always be a Harvard, but I think a lot of 3rd Tier Colleges and Universities are about to get crunched as more and more people opt for educational alternatives that will take them where they are — literally and figuratively.

What about your business?  Are you willing to meet people where they are – to save them from their past stupidity if needed – or are you demanding customers enter your doors in a state of grace?


The object of giving something up is to gain something else

Christians fast and make sacrifices during Lent  — i.e., they give up temporal, worldly pleasures and activities — so as to better concentrate their minds on the eternal and the spiritual. It’s not just about giving something up, it’s about eliminating some things to focus more on others.

This is a recognition that you can’t just add and add and add without having things get crowded out of the picture – usually the wrong things, the most important things.

StopDoingListWhile we all tend to endlessly add To-Dos to our list, there’s only so much time in the day. How many of us actively focus on a Stop Doing list? The idea is to replace less effective and efficient strategies and practices with more effective ones.  So shouldn’t we have as many “Stop Doing” items as “Start Doings”?

What’s on your “Stop Doing” list?

Back in 1973, Master Lock ran one of the most effective Super Bowl ads of all time. If you haven’t seen it before, here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

Now, I’m not sure how many criminals would shoot a lock — seems to me they’d be more likely to just use a pair of bolt cutters — but that doesn’t matter, because watching a lock literally take a bullet and still continue to do its job impresses us at a fundamental, symbolic, and subconscious level.

And it’s this subconscious, largely symbolic level where real buying decisions are made, which is one reason why Master Lock, bolstered by the success of this ad, went on to dominate the industry in 70s and continues to be dominant today.

In fact, people still talk about this “tough under fire” demonstration to this day. Heck it featured in an episode of MythBusters.

Of course, the difference between today and the 70’s is that now customers expect to be able to find more information on the internet. So if Master Lock were to run an ad like that today, we’d expect to go to the website, see the ad, and then get more information, presumably including an added demonstration of how the haft of the lock is hardened against regular bolt cutters and such.

In other words, the Web is where we expect businesses to add more info, close more loopholes, and really convince us — all after they’ve impressed us with their mass media ads.

And that brings me to the ad Master Lock really should have aired last Sunday. Because you don’t know it, but the front door lock on your house is ridiculously, stupidly easy to overcome. It doesn’t even require regular lock-picking skills or really anything close to what one might call special tools or skills.

Nope. Picking the lock on your house simply requires a bumpkey and a few minute demo on how to use it. See for yourself within the first 90 seconds of this news special:

YouTube Preview Image

Think you could make a pretty dramatic ad out of that bit of info?

Yeah. Me too.

Now, here’s the thing — Master Lock has come up with a lock cylinder that’s pretty much bump-proof. Unfortunately their promotional video for the technology is slow, boring, and long. It is, however, convincing:

YouTube Preview Image

So why not have a super dramatic, riveting Super Bowl ad that demonstrates lock bumping and how exposed 99% of all homes are to the technique, then showcasing how bump-proof Master Lock’s new lock cylinders are?

If you really want to get serious, throw out a challenge:

  • Viewers pick out a replacement Master Lock for their door and order it along with home installation to be done by a a local Master Lock dealer,
  • All of which is FREE if the installation crew can’t bump lock the front door lock they’ll be replacing on your home.
  • “If we can’t open your door lock as easy as this [image of bump lock opening] your new Master Lock is on us!
  • See complete details at masterlock.com

What do you want to bet that that ad would sell a boat load of new door locks?

And that’s the ad we should have seen this Super Bowl.