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Common Sense Takes on the 'Walrus'
Why businesses fail because they can't ...

by Linda Blew Carlson

           If you've ever watched a walrus (even on TV) make a slow and clumsy struggle across a beach, you know what it is like to make an effort if all your parts aren't dedicated to the same effort.

Are All Your Parts Dedicated?

           The Walrus brain may easily decide he should move 500 feet to the left, but his body parts respond by ploughing along and wallowing in the sand rather than moving smoothly. Watching him, one can see that a few of the parts are not suited to the effort and are actually working against the others.

           Once a walrus has decided to move and in which direction, he's pretty committed to that effort. You have to really get his attention to make him change his mind.

           What would happen if all the parts worked together as smoothly as they do when this creature gets in water?

           Small business owners and managers often get trapped in the sand and have the same problem getting from one place to another that the beached walrus has. They furrow their brow and concentrate very hard to coordinate the effort. They resemble the beached walrus because they aren't working in their own element.

You Have an Advantage

           Small business people have the advantage of faster and more efficient maneuverability if they are willing to use common sense as a guide.

           Common sense means being able to look at a problem or challenge clearly without making it harder than it really is and without leaving out important details.

           I recently read a book entitled The Goal by Goldblatt. It is a commentary on the condition of American business from the perspective of a physicist. While it deals with the big business it has a lot to say about any person learning to use common sense and look through the surface of a problem to get to the core. The author seems to believe that using common sense - or getting to the core problem - is a learnable skill that requires desire and practice.

           There are many small businesses that are as vulnerable as beached walruses because they are paying attention only to the apparent crises of the moment and concentrating on overcoming them on a minute to minute basis.

We Can Train - Walruses Can't

           If Goldblatt is right, and we can train ourselves to keep asking the correct questions until we find the core problem, then we needn't concentrate so hard on waddling over the sand rather than diving in the water and moving gracefully from point to point.

           In a recent training session a perfect example of "walrusing" came up. A CPA who does the bookkeeping for three privately owned franchise stores indicated distress that the store managers failed to turn in properly completed weekly reports so that he could do his job. He was constantly under stress because these managers would not fill in the codes he needed to calculate and project cash flow.

           During the training, we determined that the CPA was asking for corrected reports, but the managers had not felt the reports were as important as their own perceived management duties.

           In a few short minutes, the CPA learned how to address the issue with the different managers in a way that each understood clearly and each attached the proper importance to the reports.

Crunching to The Core

           The core problem in this instance was individualized communication. Research has shown this is the core problem of over 85% of the "walrus-on-sand" efforts made in business today.

           Think about it. Would your wallowing efforts become graceful swimming efforts if you learned to communicate the core issues instead of struggling through daily surface crises?

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Linda Blew Carlson, is GM of FOCUS II, LLC, a company dedicated to supporting families, public speakers, people who deal with difficult people, and businesses, through 'individualizing' communications. They all begin to get extraordinary results from ordinary people! To see how go to