Spinning Plates?


  Spinning plates is crazy!


It may be entertaining in the world of America’s got Talent but not in the marketplace.  I worked with a business that spun at least 4-5 plates for every client.  4-5 unique applications that consistently lost momentum and needed personal attention and energy to get back to a few brief moments of peace and profitability. Then the cycle began again!

Can you imagine more than 1500 plates spinning and every one is destined to slow down and perhaps crash today? The icing on the cake?


They were adding 100 new plates per year.


So how did they get here and what’s an imperfect leader to do? The issue here went far beyond poor systems design and programming knowledge. It stemmed from a culture that valued short term wins over long term investment.


When you find yourself utilizing products or services with known issues to win business, you are spinning plates. Inevitably the number of hands it takes to keep the plates spinning will erode your margins. In this particular case, imagine doubling revenues with the same amount of dollars dropping to the bottom line. 2Xs the effort for what?


You may feel justified to keep pushing for the short term wins (revenue does cover a multitude of sins) but that season is short lived. So what is the imperfect insight?

Don’t mistake your ability to sell or your ability to juggle as being valuable to the customer.

Your customer doesn’t care for either. All they care about is the product or service and its perceived value to them. Lean would teach us that everything that doesn’t add value to the customer is waste. So perhaps you should do a plate spinning audit. Quantify your results as plates per customer.


Are plates found in the making of the product or delivery of the service? Maybe there are plates in the invoicing or A/R process. Any plates in the HR department? Point your limited resources toward long term investments that yield value to your client. Slow and steady wins the race…and is more profitable!