No one wants to reinvent the wheel. When given a task or assignment, we call on what's familiar. As Bruce recently said, "You take the old, you make it new." If we have to make a presentation or write a proposal, our knee jerk reaction is to go to the last one that we did and start from there. But what if that presentation was terrible? We are all busy and I have written about taking a step back to look at the bigger picture in the past. And while you may think that this is my Jerry McGuire moment where I lose my mind and write that I want fewer clients, but will spend more time with each one...that's not what's happening.
My business partner, Joe Sarno, is reading the Steve Jobs book that is currently very popular. In it, the author describes Jobs' penchant for walking in to a meeting and telling everyone in the room that their ideas were terrible and to start from scratch. It wasn't necessarily that he thought the ideas we so bad, but he wanted to challenge his staff to make sure that they were really thinking and looking at things from all angles.
I read an article last week on asking questions to boost sales. In it, there was a story about Henry Kissinger. Winston Lord, one of Kissinger's aides, presented him with a report. On it, Kissinger immediately wrote, "Is this the best you can do?" and gave it back to him. The report was submitted again and Kissinger wrote the same note. This process repeated until Lord wrote "Yes, this is the absolute best I can do". Kissinger's looked up and said, "Now I'll read it".
As you may recall from earlier entries, we were involved in a few losing presentations recently. Something that all of those presentations had in common were great maps. However, when faced with the next presentation, we started from scratch. We didn't look at our recent work and tried to take a new approach. Taking the fresh approach worked as we won the business, but the client's only negative about our presentation was that we didn't have a map. CBRE has a tremendous Mapping Center which is an amazing resource and we didn't include a map!
Many times, we focus on finishing tasks, getting them off of our desks and moving on to the next. We are busy! But that's very rarely our best effort. We need to focus on providing work product that is well thought out and well executed. If we assume at some point in the process that everything stinks, it forces us to look at something familiar from a different angle. Had we really gone back and looked at the new presentation from a different angle, we would have realized we missed the maps.
Reinventing the wheel is never fun. However, the wheel was a PERFECT invention. Make sure what you are pulling from was perfect also, or just pull the best pieces. After all, practice doesn't make perfect, but perfect practice does.
PS I rewrote this blog entry four times to make sure it was the best I could do. Do you agree?