There are a lot of business books out there with self-proclaimed experts telling us what we should or shouldn’t do in the corporate world. However, in my 20 years of experience I’ve discovered that the best business advice comes from the school of Metal and the movie Spinal Tap serves as an excellent example of these principles.
What Spinal Tap has to teach us about business:
1. Don’t jump into bed with the first company that asks for a merger. You could wind up with herpes. Sure some companies and their profit margins look enticing. But what other diseases will they bring into your culture or financial statements?
2. You may lose your drummer repeatedly, but the show will go on (as much as I hate to admit it). Some people may appear to be instrumental to your success (pun intended). However, in business everyone is replaceable. In fact, I’ve discovered that the people who appear irreplaceable are more skilled in promoting their value than in actually providing value to the organization. Thus, the people who appear to be essential to your success may be the least valuable of all your employees. Perceived value and actual value are two different things. A well structured and healthy organization is not dependent upon a few key people. If you think that your organization is going to crumble if you lose specific people, then it’s very likely to crumble even if those people stay.
3. You can detail all your plans and track progress, but a simple thing like one little typo can have a dramatic effect and leave you with a tiny, toy Stonehendge instead of the dramatic prop you intended. No one should be too proud to have their work checked. It’s easy to overlook small details that can make a big difference. In fact, I appreciate my editors for helping me with these things because I know they make me look better (FYI - I am a notoriously poor typist and make horrendous typing mistakes all the time). So build this into your project timelines and don’t just concern yourself with getting a product to market quickly. Speed is not an acceptable alternative to accuracy.
4. Someone is going to get trapped in the pod eventually. Insert “boiler room” or “creative accounting error” in place of “pod.” All the same. Sooner or later we all wind up in a situation that we didn’t create. Remember this when you decide to play the blame game. It’s always better to simply solve the problem and move on than to worry about finding someone to pay the price for a mistake. You could just as easily wind up in a pod that you didn’t build and be blamed for not emerging on stage on cue.
P.S. For those of you who were looking for a Daily Dave in this post... this is merely a prelude. For those of you who don’t know about the Daily Dave, please check back next week for an explanation and example.