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A Cure for Complacency

Complacency happens quietly to stable companies. Cash flow is adequate, competition is manageable and concerns are in the future, not today. Then “something happens” throwing sales and the survival of the company into play.

If a company is complacent, it usually struggles with growth and innovation. Its underlying problem, however, may be the absence of a culture that continually improves the organization and the business. Businesses that revere past accomplishments find change very difficult. Engaging employees to become part of the solution is essential for sustainable growth.

Changing Complacency into Growth

The Doldrums, Steam Engines and Organizational Curiosity:

The Doldrums: calm (no wind or power) in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans
“Getting stuck in the doldrums” was a captain’s worst nightmare. At certain latitudes the wind suddenly stopped blowing., Empty sails hung from the rigging, the sea was calm and ships stopped moving. Out of desperation, some captains used lifeboats to tow their ships. Others threw their cargo overboard, to lighten their loads. Unfortunately for sailors, the only solution was divine intervention(wind). Over time, however, the steam engine made the doldrums a distant memory and opened the floodgates for commerce.

Steam Engines: continual power (no wind required)
Many historians credit the modern steam engine for opening and sustaining global trade. James Watt developed the first truly commercial steam engine in the late 1700’s. A mechanical genius, Watt repaired massive steam engines that pumped water from working coal mines. His practical improvements to the design and manufacture of the early engines revolutionized the coal industry as the mines dug deeper and captured richer veins of coal.

Watt and other later inventors built a series of smaller and lighter steam engines that were significant improvements over the original design. Newer engines had better steam vessels, planetary gears and they were also much stronger. Within decades, these engines powered the railroads, ships and factories of the industrial revolution.

Terry Phinney