Stickman House on Stilts.jpeg

Surprise! You Need a New Foundation!

My neighbor down the street wanted to expand the top floor of their house. The owner is a General Contractor and hoped the work would take no more than six months. He's a pro. He knows what he's doing. The family moved out into a rental, and he got to work. But, the house is around 100 years old. It has now been almost a year, and they JUST STARTED on the top floor. How can an experienced pro be so wrong about a single floor? It's all about the foundation.

As they looked into the plumbing, electrical, and venting requirements, they had to face the fact that the foundation of the house would not support their perfect top floor. So, they lifted the entire house on stilts. They replaced the entire foundation and rebuilt their basement. They put in new plumbing and new wiring that will hopefully last them 100 more years. They put the house back on the foundation and, almost a year after they started, they have finally started on a new top floor.

Does this sound familiar?

Your new CEO wants the old LTI plan replaced before the start of the new year. The head of Business Development needs a new sales incentive plan by the end of the month. People know exactly what needs to be fixed but may not have a complete understanding of what it takes to fix them. We can build temporary solutions quickly, but doing things correctly often requires starting with the foundation.

A good foundation can require more effort than you can predict or communicate. You can’t always see the flaws in a foundation from a surface level evaluation. Only after you have begun removing layers of the old can you begin to understand what truly needs to be fixed. Correcting flaws in a foundation can be beyond difficult.

The key to success is setting expectations and keeping people updated as those expectations change. It isn’t easy to communicate that your initial predictions were flawed. It is even harder to explain why your rushed “solution” didn’t solve anything.

I am fairly sure that the delays involved in getting my neighbor’s house properly updated would have been more difficult if the house had not been his own. I am also sure that he would have had the integrity to have those tough conversations, even if it was someone else’s house. You are the owner of your total rewards. Your family is everyone in your company who must live within the structure that you build and maintain. Quick fixes are fine when emergencies arise, but make sure you are clear about what it takes to make real, long-lasting changes. Without a strong foundation, you may be looking elsewhere for new projects.

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