- Failure to set proper expectations. You have to set clear goals and deadlines.
- Excusing subordinates from the pursuit of overall goals. You can't let team leaders have too narrow a focus on their own objectives.
- Colluding with staff experts and consultants. You have to make them responsible for outcomes.
- Waiting while associates prepare, prepare, prepare. Endless preparation gives only the illusion of progress.
On the other hand, Dan Ariely's column titled Want People to Save? Force Them instantly rubbed me the wrong way. Ariely advocates that the best way to prevent two common failures of retirement planning (deciding to save in the first place and reducing investment risk as one's retirement date approaches) is to borrow a page from the Chilean government and simply deduct money from everyone's paycheck and invest it for them. As justification, he points out that we already submit to a number of "deeply controlling" regulations and as examples he cites several from the motor vehicle code such wear a seatbelt and no texting while driving. There's a big difference here. If you text while driving the accident you cause will impact (pardon the pun) others either by death, injury, or property damage. If you screw up your retirement plan, it's only you who'll suffer the consequences. (Yes, I realize there is a cost to society if a large percentage of its citizenry cannot afford to live beyond retirement without government assistance.) Nor do I wish to argue the analogy - if you motorcycle without a helmet or drive without a seatbelt the life you take will likely be your own.
But as I wrote, overall this issue of HBR was thought provoking. I look forward to the next one.