Too Fond of Fire Fighting?

Executives and entrepreneurs often complain that they spend so much time fighting fires that they have no time for strategy. This can be a cause of stress.

The suggestion that fire fighters are more likely to be arsonists than the general population is an urban myth (although some such arsonists do exist, such as John Leonard Orr). Few in business go that far. However, some business people thrive on fighting fires – it is when they really come alive, and can be heroes!

This creates problems. Indeed fire fighting takes up time better spent on the strategic issues that are the real job of the executive or entrepreneur. And if people thrive on fires, they may make less effort to avoid them (even if they do not set them alight).

The first question is “who should deal with the fire?” Very often this should be someone lower down the organisation, freeing up the boss’s time. It may be part of their job description, and it may of course be that they can solve the issue quicker that the boss.

More importantly, if there is a pattern of fires that pattern needs to be addressed. If the chip pan keeps catching fire, most people change the way they fry chips, or move to oven chips. So why not use the same principle at work?

As always, fell free to contact us to discuss this or any other issue.


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