The importance of doing nothing

March 14, 2017

I recently ran across this article on Philly.com. Mike George, the CEO of local company QVC instructs all new hire top execs to “do nothing” for the first 6 months on the job.

By “do nothing”, George is actually asking quite a bit of his top execs. He’s asking them to sit back, learn and absorb. At first, that seems easy. But for any driven professional, not accomplishing something to move the business forward, “simply” absorbing is quite the challenge.

More, George then asks them to take their nothing and turn it into….something. I love George’s three buckets that he suggests that all learning will fall into:

  1. Stuff you thought the company was doing wrong, but is “actually like the secret sauce that’s amazing.”
  2. Things that could be done differently, but are working okay – no need to touch
  3. Things that could be done differently or better. Here is where you should be playing.

The exec on-boarding philosophy mirrors FVM’s philosophy. You can’t start changing things until you truly understand them. When we on-board a new client, our first task is awfully similar to QVC’s new top execs task.

And here is how FVM defines “doing nothing”:

  • Get to know your client: website, advertising, brochures, collateral. Get your hands on all of it, read it, understand it, live it. Talk to people: interviews, phone calls, meetings. Sales reps, marketing, advertising, finance, etc. Every department is critical. See it. Visit locations, touch the products.
  • Get to know your client’s competition: website, advertising, brochures, collateral. Get your hands on all of it, read it, understand it, live it.
  • Get to know your client’s customers and prospects: who are they? Where are they? What makes them tick? Why do they love your client? Why do they love the client’s competition?
  • Get to know the industry: understand the association, publications, resources.

It’s so easy for any outsider to view any company and make snap judgment decisions about what changes, stays, and goes. But they’d be missing out on the “secret sauce” that makes things move, and more, they’d be missing out on the areas that truly need work.

Only once you live and breathe what your client, competitors, customers and prospects live and breathe can you properly address challenges and holes, making the right changes in the right places.

There’s a reason QVC makes $8.5 billion in revenue, and, there’s a reason FVM’s clients stick around so long.

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