Swinging a Blunt Axe

May 28, 2020 3:56 pm

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“If the axe is blunt, and one doesn’t sharpen the edge, then he must use more strength.” ¹

Without pausing, reflecting and observing, we can easily end up swinging a blunt axe. Maintaining sharp skills and organisational effectiveness warrants constant attention and application, but far too often, we accept things as they are rather than attempting greater effectiveness through a sharper blade.

Here are some examples to reflect on.

  • An accounting firm had lost its edge, having plateaued for 8 years. They took 8 months to sharpen the blade and launched off the plateau to report record growth in subsequent years.
  • Another business, after analysing who its buyers were, sharpened their blade and went more directly to the decision-maker with reported improvement in the following quarter.
  • A supervisor lost his work fulfilment edge over a period of time which started to show in the quality of his management. Once reassigned to a different position he regained his happiness and corresponding sharpness.
  • The 90+ debtors for one company was well out of hand. Sharpening the retrieval blade, we reduced the amount by 97%.
  • A salesperson, disheartened from the realisation they were swinging a blunt sales axe, took a week for reflection and review, found the fail-point, made corrections to their process and went from a 25% to 72% win rate in the following 7 months.

These examples all refer to people gaining insight into their current situations and then responded by the sharpening of their efforts.

In recent times I have had the pleasure of working with a manager who exemplifies a more ahead of the game approach. Recognising an opportunity to sharpen his blade, he requested a rehearsal meeting prior to a sales call with a prospective client.  He wanted to ensure he was swinging a sharp conversational axe. Smart.

A blunt axe equates to increased effort with minimised results whereas a sharp axe reduces required effort but dramatically shifts results and in many cases, almost immediately.

 

 

¹Solomon is generally attributed to writing this around 935 BC

Photo by Markus Spiske