Management can sometimes seem like the fairground game of ‘whack-a-mole’. As soon as you have beaten one mole away, another pops its head up. And, like the game, the ‘fun’ never stops; management time is perpetually focused on periodically batting away the same set of issues in some kind of Sisyphean nightmare.

I’m currently working with one of the UK’s leading retailers, helping them to improve their online proposition. The commercial director has found that when the retailer’s buyers are focused on this issue improvements are made, but once the many gaps have been resolved their focus switches to hammering away other ‘moles’. Inevitably, over time, the problem returns and the ‘whacking’ can restart.

The solution is not to ‘whack’ more quickly, but to change the rules of the game. Don’t see theses issue as short-term problems that need to be quickly dealt with, but as part of bigger, integrated strategies that should be carefully developed to build ongoing focus and alignment.

If you’ll allow me to change metaphors from fairground games to DIY for a moment, it’s like dealing with a leaking water pipe at home. You can, of course, simply put a bucket under the leak or do a quick-fix on the pipe, but that means you’ll be coming back to the problem again sometime soon.

Alternatively, you can fundamentally renew the pipework and then regularly review and upgrade it so that the risk of future leaks is fundamentally lowered. That way, you’ll never have an urgent emergency of a leak again.

At my client, we are working on the latter approach. The commercial team are developing a strategic scorecard – to be reviewed and addressed monthly – which includes the scale, scope and performance of the online proposition. These goals will also be drilled down to team and buyer performance objectives, helping to ensure that the on-line proposition evolves continuously rather than in a series of jerky quick fixes.

What are the moles that you are most regularly whacking? And how could you change focus so that your teams are working on them in a way that they never raise their head again?

© Stuart Cross 2019. All rights reserved.