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Message from the CEO

Guard against complacency

Now that the uncertainty of the election has passed, many of our clients feel reasonably optimistic that regulations and taxes aren’t likely to increase, and, in fact, we might even see a sensible decrease in one or both areas. Add that to the growth experienced by many companies and organizations recently — especially in certain sectors — and the result is optimism into the foreseeable future. (This positive outlook was expressed by many in both our 2017 National Manufacturing Outlook and Insights survey and our 2017 Nonprofit Outlook Survey.)

However, no matter how well things might be going, every company and organization must guard against complacency. Success isn’t something to be attained once; it’s something to be maintained proactively again and again over time. Today’s achievements can become yesterday’s news without the necessary drive to maintain, build on, and improve them.

How the Mighty FallThe book How the Mighty Fall by Jim Collins (author of Good to Great) describes how this can happen all too easily. Collins spells out five stages of decline, the first of which is hubris, which occurs when people lose sight of the factors that created a company’s success in the first place. This stage is followed by an undisciplined striving for “more” based on what people view as the markers of success; denial of warning signs; seeking out “saviors”; and, ultimately, when a mighty organization does fall, the end of the company.

The key to avoiding this decline, according to Collins, is a thorough understanding of why the company operates the way it does and having the flexibility and courage to make changes to those operating processes when needed. Sometimes this occurs when an organization allows one adjustment or exception to its values, and then it easily becomes a slippery slope.

We mention this because at EKS&H we have the honor of watching and supporting many organizations grow. While the majority do succeed and sustain success, there are a few that fall into the trap Collins describes. Having witnessed this, we take deliberate steps to regularly revisit our core values and make certain we’re on track for the continued ability to grow and serve our clients. Naturally, we advise our clients to do the same. Falling into the trap of the “mighty” or getting tunnel vision on what has worked in the past is entirely preventable when organizations operate with a healthy combination of good sense and humility.

Achieving excellence isn’t enough; companies lucky enough to establish excellence must work equally hard to retain it. No matter what’s going on at your company or in the environment in which you operate, it’s always a good investment to be thinking about the future and how to prepare yourself and your organization for sustainable future greatness.

If you have thoughts about what we can do to remain a strong and valuable partner, we invite you to share that with any of us at EKS&H.

Best wishes for a wonderful spring and summer!

Bob Hottman