Form, then speed.
Common responses relating to consistency:
“We’re not achieving our marketing objectives.”
“We’re achieving our goals with decreasing efficiency.”
“We have a lot of false starts.”
“We’re more opportunistic than strategic.”
When things go south, companies may start to cut corners where they previously wouldn’t or look for silver bullet solutions where they shouldn’t. But jumping from one idea to another is never a good idea. Every time you start over, you’re starting over.
When otherwise healthy organizations take a turn for the worse, consistency is generally the second factor to fade. It’s not hard to see why: leadership drifts into misalignment, seeking different visions of success. As a result, they each pull their respective teams in different directions, and your synchronized rowing crew falls out of the boat and starts splashing into chaos.
Consistency doesn’t come naturally; it’s the product of discipline. A golfer with a perfectly consistent swing has practiced it millions of times in exactly the same way. But discipline is only possible if you know what you’re being disciplined toward. As soon as you lose sight of the goal, or worse, if multiple coaches start providing different goals and different direction, discipline goes out the window and consistency evaporates into disorder.
We can all name brands that have disappointed us. Often, this disappointment is the byproduct of inconsistency. Service was great last time…but lousy on the second visit. Those BBQ ribs were the best you’ve ever had…until they weren’t. Their mission statement won you over because it seemed uniquely aimed at people just like you…until they abandoned it (and you) to chase the next flavor of the month.
Lurking behind every one of these annoyances (which are guaranteed to cost customers) is a strategic problem. Consistency doesn’t just appear (or disappear) on its own—it’s always a manifestation of something deeper.
But that truth doesn’t prevent many organizations from looking for silver bullets to avoid confronting nastier internal demons. Consistency is one of the fastest factors to deteriorate, because it tends to breed more inconsistency. This is why athletes in a slump tend to get worse. Once you notice something is off, it’s easy to panic and start questioning everything, which breeds more problems, more panic, more frantic adjustments…and the cycle continues.
The same is true of organizations. It’s often slow and painful to look deep inside and determine root strategic causes. It’s much easier (though much less effective) to wildly make tactical adjustments. But as any elite athlete will tell you, slow is smooth, smooth is fast. Inconsistency is a symptom, not a cause in itself, and if you focus on the symptom, you’re likely to create some ugly side effects.
How consistent is your brand?
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