Companies in the private sector, for the most part, report an absence of profits today but greatly anticipate profits tomorrow; however, for many, tomorrow never seems to come.  Agencies in the public sector exhibit an inability to achieve even modest performance goals consistently. Since both private and public sector enterprises are managed by intelligent, dedicated, knowledgeable leaders, why is getting the expected outcome apparently so difficult?  The answer lies in two hidden killers.  Fortunately, they can be toppled with a methodical approach that will lead to the desired results, consistently.

The Leaders’ Reports

 During its 50 public sessions conducted over the past two years, CCCC has asked the questions of CEOs and leaders:

a) How many of you are profitable right now? A majority were not.

b) How many of you were profitable last year? A majority were not.

c) How many expect to be profitable this year? Most did.  However, next year they will probably respond the same as ‘a’ or ‘b’.

d) How many years have you maintained that profit? – we ask of those who are profitable. Most reported only one or two years. That is, the profits were not consistent.

e) Since the average established company’s after-tax profit is 4% to 5%, how many of you can classify yourself in that group with a 4% after-tax profit?  A majority of sessions had zero CEOs reporting this achievement.

For non-profit organizations, the same question were asked centered on the manager’s expected performance of the unit against any standard of measurement for that unit.  The results were the same: an inability to achieve even modest performance goals consistently.

The Question

The CEO is supposed to lead the way to profits, is paid well to do that, but most fail to achieve what is considered average profits.  (The not-for-profit chief executive is supposed to lead the way to certain performance levels, perhaps to finish in the black, but most fail to achieve what is considered a reasonable performance level.)  These CEOs and managers are clever, hard working, aggressive and well educated but they cannot achieve ‘normal’ results.  Why not?

Most engage in teamwork and some even bring in outside programs or consultants; yet, over the long haul, the miserable record remains.  Why?

Answer:  it is because the manager failed to understand the impact of the two hidden killers of success in organizations, namely:

Killer #1 – Unresolved problems

Killer #2 – Pursuit of efficiency before being ready

Killer #1 – Unresolved Problems

Problems take every imaginable form from the failure of a product to get produced on time, to personal vendettas in the enterprise.  The CCCC position is that an average unresolved problem costs an organization $50,000 per year. (Our current statistics show $357,000 per year each problem – see attachment).  Our experience with firms in the media business, the arts, high tech, manufacturing, travel and gas exploration, show an average backlog of over 100 problems each.  The cost of not resolving them can be in the millions of dollars per year.  At the basis of all problems is the human element.  Just as humans are responsible for success, they are responsible for failure.  Thus the barriers to human cooperation have to be addressed and taken down by systems that overcome typical human weaknesses. Systems must replace ‘good intentions’ since humans seem unable to do it themselves, as much as humans are unable to diet themselves.

By solving problems, the company staff will learn how to develop what we call cooperation.

Killer #2 – Pursuit of Efficiency before Being Ready

a) Excess Baggage

When companies embark on improvement programs such as Business Process Re-engineering, Quality Circles, etc. they are usually not prepared for the programs because they are dragging the baggage of unresolved problems behind them into these challenges.  Thus, the new initiatives, although well designed, are doomed to failure.  The thoroughbred cannot win the derby with a gimpy leg, no matter how well the animal is trained; it has to have its leg (problem) fixed first.  That is, improvement initiatives should not be commenced until Killer #1 has been significantly addressed.

b) Good Management

Good management is managing people, which means spending time to understand what motivates your people and what de-motivates them.  Doing that allows the firm to pass from being effective to becoming efficient in the right sequence.  Many attempt efficiency before being effective with disastrous results. Typically, school systems and hospitals focus on cuts here and there, amalgamations of X with Y, for the sake of efficiency.  Effectiveness, serving the clients, the students or the patients, in a manner of high satisfaction is all but forgotten.  The sequence of steps to guide the firm from effectiveness through to efficiency is: (i) align the people in the same direction through a bottom-up approach to define a common purpose or mission.  (ii) Then create a plan – also from the bottom up.  (iii) Develop a structure to fulfill that plan and (iv) finally feed that structure to make every single individual in the organization accountable for results.

At the point where killers #1 and #2 are conquered, the company staff members develop what we term consistent cooperationConsistent cooperation is the only road to profits and performance (besides luck).


Most companies are not profitable or cannot achieve their goals although most try their utmost to get those results.  The reason they are not is that they are not aware of the two hidden killers nor do they know how to overcome them.  Conventional methods do not work; instead, both killers are addressed with a bottom up approach to teamwork and total company staff cooperation.  Solving company problems systematically (#1) and balancing the demons of efficiency and effectiveness (#2) leads to, what we term, consistent cooperation,.  CCCC estimates killer #1 costs a company about 5% of sales volume per year and killer #2 rings in at about 4%.

The answer is never easy.  We suggest you begin by getting onto an effective problem-solving program from a disinterested outside party, to at least get the first part of your ‘cooperation’ ship launched.