Kicking the Can Down the Road

Even the most casual political observers know that government has a fondness for avoiding problems, not solving them. And the bigger the problem, the longer the sidestep. Whether it’s health insurance, social security, immigration or any of the other major issues facing our society today, elected officials tend to put off important decisions until crisis stage and beyond.

This doesn’t work for government. And it certainly doesn’t work for business. The good news is, as leaders of our organizations, we can do something about it. Remember when you were a kid and you got a D on your math midterm? (Or whatever subject it might have been.) Instead of telling your parents about it early and lessening the shock (and punishment), you hid your report card? Or tried to cover it up some other way? What happened? Did it ever work? Of course not. And that’s why you were grounded for two weeks instead of two days.

It’s the same in business. A small problem dealt with immediately will disappear quickly. But if you try to keep it under wraps or kick the can down the road indefinitely, it will become a huge obstacle that’s impossible to ignore and may even put your organization in danger.

Handling it early takes training, courage and the willingness to endure temporary discomfort. But over time, you’ll develop a mindset that allows you to make it a habit. And it sure beats the alternative.