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BACKING UP THE TRUCK

Posted by Tim Bryce on July 17, 2015

BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT

– Whoa, slow down! Let’s not leap before we look.

(Click for AUDIO VERSION)
To use this segment in a Radio broadcast or Podcast, send TIM a request.

We have an expression we use around the office whenever we discuss a new idea and someone impulsively acts on it without first thinking it through, we call it “backing up the truck.” This came about several years ago when we were discussing a publicity idea to promote our I.T. related products. Basically, we were thinking of writing a series of white papers on various subjects and mailing them to our customers and key contacts in the industry (e-mail was still in its infancy). At the time, everyone at the meeting agreed it was a good idea but we should sleep on it over the weekend. However, one of our guys took the initiative of calling a paper supplier and, lo and behold, on Monday morning a delivery truck backed up to our offices with a couple of skids of paper. We were all bewildered why the person ordered the paper before a decision had actually been made, hence the expression.

“Backing up the truck” obviously represents a “leap before you look” type of impulsive behavior and, unfortunately, we see too much of it in the corporate world. I think it might be caused by the highly competitive nature of corporate politics whereby people try to scratch and claw their way to the top and seize on any opportunity for recognition. Yes, it is necessary to respond in a timely manner to the pressures of business, but companies can ill-afford a knee-jerk reaction to every problem or opportunity.

Another reason for it may be that we have raised a generation of people who only understand instant gratification and cannot plan their lives beyond 5:00pm. This would suggest they have learned to operate in a constant “fire fighting” mode of operation whereby they react as opposed to plan. In other words, “backing up the truck” is a natural part of their corporate culture.

If the wrong decisions are made, a “backing up the truck” form of behavior can be both costly and destructive. If you are a one-man operation and have supreme confidence in your judgment, than it might be a suitable form of behavior. As for me, I like to think things through. For example, rarely do I ever write and publish an article on the same day, regardless of the easy-to-use publishing tools now available. I have made it a policy to sit on an article for at least 24 hours (including this column), to give me a chance to think about it over night and look at it with a fresh perspective on the following day. I can’t think of a time when I didn’t make a modification to an article as a result of this process, be it large or small. I am therefore more confident in what I am presenting to my readership.

When I fly, I like to see a pilot with a little gray hair. It’s not that I have anything against younger officers, I just feel more comfortable knowing there’s someone in the cockpit who has been around the block a few times, and has the experience to consider all of the alternatives before making a decision, such as Capt. “Sully” Sullenberger. There’s no substitute for experience.

By the way, in our “backing up the truck” example, cooler heads prevailed and the skids of paper were returned to the vendor the next day.

Originally published: May 14, 2015

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2015 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  1976 REDS VERSUS 1927 YANKEES – Which was the best team in Major League Baseball?

LAST TIME:  THE PROBLEM WITH NEWSLETTERS  – Why most end up lining the bottom of bird cages.

Listen to Tim on WJTN-AM (News Talk 1240) “The Town Square” with host John Siggins (Mon, Wed, Fri, 12:30-3:00pm Eastern); WZIG-FM (104.1) in Palm Harbor,FL; and KIT-AM 1280 in Yakima, Washington “The Morning News” with hosts Dave Ettl & Lance Tormey (weekdays. 6:00-9:00am Pacific). Or tune-in to Tim’s channel on YouTube.

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3 Responses to “BACKING UP THE TRUCK”

  1. Tim Bryce said

    An S.M. of Mountain Home, Idaho wrote…

    “Good point Tim. When I was in the Philippines, I preferred an older motorcycle driver and not a younger one. It’s always better to get to your destination in one piece than to . . . .well, it’s just better to get there in one piece.”

    Like

  2. Scrapping an idea, after further consideration, should come to be as much a part of a successful enterprise’s modus operandi as the free-wheeling exchange of ideas that originally puts new approaches on the table. Having such a meaningful in-house term for it has to be especially effective.

    It occurs to me that your phrase subsumes a literal ‘arsenal’ of alternative expressions for such behavior. It can certainly be counterproductive to have someone buy into an idea ‘lock, stock and barrel,’ ‘go off half-cocked,’ and implement something that was only going to be a ‘flash in the pan.’

    Liked by 1 person

  3. […] BACKING UP THE TRUCK […]

    Like

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