"Are You Allowing Your Company to Become a Spork?"
by Jim Senhauser
Did you ever wonder about the guy who invented the spork? You know what a spork is, don’t you? It is that plastic utensil that some of the fast food places give you in place of a fork and a spoon. I am guessing that the inventor of the spork thought it would save the restaurant chain a lot of hassles and waste because it can be used to fill the need for either a spoon or a fork or both.
You’ll note that I say theory, because the spork, with its very short tines, does not do the work of a fork very well, especially when it comes to eating salads. The spork also is deficient when it comes to eating anything that requires a spoon, because its bowl is really only a fraction of that of a real spoon.
Here’s the deal: do you know what a spork really is? I’ll tell you. A spork is a fork that wasn’t willing to commit. Or, perhaps a spork is a spoon who wasn’t willing to put himself out there to decide what he really wanted to be in life. You get the gist.
So, here is my question to you as a business owner or manager — are you allowing your business to become a spork? Are you like many business owners or upper level managers in that your company is not really fully dedicated to any particular path? Is your firm going through each day as if it is a “play it by ear” exercise?
Alternately, like the spork, you may be trying to have your company do double-duty, in an attempt to be all things to all people. As a result, your company in its efforts to be multiple things to multiple markets, might just end up not being anything to anyone. Sometimes it is necessary to decide if you are going to be really good at something or mediocre or less at trying to do a lot of things. It is all about commitment.
Compare this fragmented approach with companies that put themselves “out there,” and play full-out. Their approach is to be the best fork or the best spoon that they can. Companies like that are committed to an ideal, a goal or simply dedicated to being the best or just really good at what it is that they do. The commitment decision and subsequent follow through are the key to winning the battle.
Find a company or its management that is not committed to a well defined principle and highly visible goals and you are likely to find one that ends up not achieving their fullest potential. Why? Because they pursue an ill-defined goal, often half-heartedly and are likely to get off track easily. Like the spork, they inadvertently try to be easily adaptable chameleons that don’t stand out for anything that they do.
Don’t get me wrong; a company can succeed as a “jack of all trades.” However, if that is the case, the key is to be genuinely committed to being the best “jack” that you can, AND be really good at a number of those trades. Trust me when I say that no one is going to refer to your company as a “jack of all trades” if you either are not particularly effective at those skill-sets or have a less-than-full commitment to pursuing them with a high degree of excellence.
So, the next time that you walk into a fast food restaurant and you happen to pick up a spork, think to yourself how much better a good, solid fork with long tines or a nice well-rounded spoon would serve your purpose.
Then relate that to how a company that exercises a committed, full-out approach to doing one or two things really well, or conversely, practices a well-rounded and well-grounded approach to getting a variety of things done exceptionally WELL works for you. But, whatever you do, don’t allow your company, like the spork, to get stuck in the middle, not doing either approach well.
Meanwhile, back at that fast-food restaurant — grab that spork they give you, and toss it away. Then, use one of the real utensils you brought with you (in your pocket or purse) to eat your meal efficiently and effectively.
‘Cause let’s face it: life is far too short to get sporked.