I am not against intellectual entertainment. There is nothing wrong with the idea of being entertained by content that stretches the capabilities of our minds. When I find myself researching black holes, this is a form of intellectual entertainment. It exercises the brain. It expands my knowledge of a vast universe. The topic is interesting. It’s fun!
However, intellectual entertainment is rarely accompanied by any organizational or life-changing actions. Simply put, this is knowledge that was fun to obtain and occasionally reflect upon, but that will not be used for a meaningful purpose.
Unfortunately, trade conferences and seminars oftentimes end up being intellectual entertainment. The attendees have the best of intentions to change themselves, their organizations, and the world, but ultimately fail.
Why do people fail at producing change in their organizations after receiving top-tier training from experts? As both a regular speaker at conferences and an attendee, I have been asked this question dozens of times.
Since I truly desire to see entrepreneurs succeed, this question has been haunting me. I was motivated to find the answer to this question. I discussed this persistent problem with several of my peers and was able to pinpoint the top three reasons entrepreneurs fail to become change agents when they return to their businesses:
1. Organizational Inertia
This fundamental physics principle applies to business. Your organization is on a set trajectory that it will stay on until disturbed. Most organizations will wait for a negative disturbance from an external force rather than producing a positive disturbance internally.
This is tragic. When a business regularly produces positive internal changes, it will be more stable, more profitable, and able to withstand negative external forces much more effectively.
For most people, staying in the comfort zone is more important than higher profits. Those same people would vehemently disagree that they are stuck in a rut, but their actions scream that comfort is of paramount importance to them.
2. Lack of Focus
When we watch an in-depth presentation, take a course, or attend a conference, the instinctive reaction is to want to implement everything we just learned all at once. This is not practical. The presenter likely has years of experience on the topic that was distilled in an understandable way. The take-a-way nuggets are useful, but you still have work to do.
Instead of trying to implement every new tip and trick that you see, focus on creating a list of these tips and tricks and scoring them in the following manner:
Next, add up the score for each item that you are considering implementing and objectively compare them based solely on the impact score. Throughout the training, course, or conference, keep a running spreadsheet or notepad with the score for each of the specific tactics.
At the conclusion of the training, your goal should be to have 1-3 items that you can start implementing the day you go back to work. These are concrete ideas that will take your business to the next level. These are new skills that can pay the bills.
It is important to note that each business is different. No one knows your business better than you. I challenge you NOT to over-score the flashy or hip idea. Rather, honestly assess your own skills and business then apply the correct idea.
3. Lack of Time
Following a conference or training event, you can fully expect to be slammed with time commitments. It can take hours to catch up on email, your kids will want uninterrupted time with you, and your business may have been neglected while you were out of town.
This business creates an unfortunate byproduct - procrastination. If you have not started to implement the top tactics and strategies within two weeks, you likely never will.
How do we combat the procrastination effect? Schedule a reasonable amount of time (i.e. 1-2 hours) per week for the four weeks immediately after the training. Don’t fall into becoming a slave to the urgent and neglect implementation. Doing so screams - intellectual entertainment is more important than organizational change!
It won’t be easy to carve out the time, but if you can dedicate days of your time to attend the conference you owe this to yourself and organization. Over time, the goal is to create a culture of change. Each team member should be able to work on tactics and strategies that make the business truly awesome.
My desire is that a complete understanding of the enemy will help you overcome it. With your help, we can ensure that we are change agents in our organizations!