Fear Instant Gratification

Posted: November 2, 2014 by Tom Heuer in Culture, Leadership, People, Startup

Tom Heuer, Miami University Center for EntrepreneurshipAll businesses and their leaders experience fears.  The fears could range from products being disrupted to the defection of top talent to the loss of important customers.  Fears are also real and ever present in start-ups today.  Will we be able to attract the talent to launch the business?  Will funding be available to launch the business?  Have we really identified our primary customer?    These fears are real and are generally self-inflicted because we lose patience and seek instant gratification.  Business success – whether in start-ups, small businesses or large corporations – requires patience and the shunning of instant gratification.  But, the race to achieve short-term results is a magnet for instant gratification thinking.  It is simply says “let’s take the easy route versus expending extra effort to become great.”

I have lackadaisical students every semester believing that the business world is just waiting to draft them in the first round. It is hard to dissuade them even with intensive coaching. There will be NO instant gratification during the recruiting process. Start-ups rush to launch their business even though they have not fully identified their primary customer or differentiated their product.  Companies recruit external talent into key roles without fully understanding whether the candidate’s personal values fit the organization’s culture.  Instant gratification treats these recruits like mercenaries – make things happen now.  Senior management places pressure on the sales force to close deals prematurely so the quarterly numbers look inflated.  This action mitigates the short-term problem but creates credibility issues going forward between senior management, the sales team and the customer.  Instant gratification’s major purpose is to minimize potential.

So, what would happen to instant gratification if the world would practice “hard-easy rather than easy-hard?”  Just think about it:

  • Students and Faculty would partner with each other and create a powerful, engaging learning environment.  Both groups would partake in extraordinary effort and the outcome would be growth for both student and faculty.
  • Start-up founders would wholeheartedly embrace their idea’s vision. It is difficult when funding happens and expectations are vetted with you.  By resisting the “early, quick” revenue opportunities, founders would commit to their belief that if launched right, the idea could have long-term impact and opportunity.
  • Start-ups and small businesses would be differentiated by their talent.  Recruiting the best qualified person for every opening (senior level to entry level) requires effort.  Start-ups and small businesses have one opportunity to get it right.  Staffing top talent is not an instant gratification event. It would be the turning point in each endeavor.
  • Corporate leaders would believe that their strategy will deliver the anticipated results instead of “hammering on” the sales teams to break the trust of hard-earned customer relationships for short-term gains.

Instant gratification seems to have become part of the American fabric.  As business leaders, the “easy way” must be jettisoned from every corporate culture.  Innovation, growth and leadership credibility is looking on waiting for this decision to be made.


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