By Jeff Beals
The toy industry is no place for the faint of heart.
You might be surprised to hear that. After all, what could be more fun than working in a business that designs and manufactures the delightful toys children love worldwide?
Well, just because the subject matter is fun does not guarantee that the work is fun.
That’s what employees at Mattel have learned the hard way in recent years, according to a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Floundering Mattel Tries to Make Things Fun Again.”
While the toy industry has been stagnant lately, things were worse at Los Angeles-based Mattel compared to its competitors like Hasbro and Lego. Mattel has lost more than a third of its market value this year. That equals a $6.1 billion decline, one of the worst performances in corporate America.
What’s the deal?
Apparently, much of the problem can be attributed to a cumbersome, procedure-laden corporate bureaucracy. Mattel was suffering from analysis paralysis. Executives were locked up in seemingly never-ending meetings addressing mind-numbing minutiae.
According to the Wall Street Journal article, employees would spend weeks putting together elaborate PowerPoint decks that would include 100 slides or more detailing every facet of a product or marketing campaign. A website redesign took almost a whole year. Some executives were so overwhelmed with meetings that they would place imaginary/fake appointments on their Outlook calendars so admin assistants couldn’t schedule additional meetings. (I may have been guilty of that a couple of times in my career).
Mattel executives eventually realized their oppressive structure and rampant indecisiveness were stymieing creativity and killing sales.
You got to give Mattel credit, because they realized the problem and changed things around. Enter the new policies:
- No meetings are to be held without a specific purpose;
- No more than 10 people should participate in a meeting (unless it is a training session);
- There should be no more than a total of three meetings to make any decision.
Many organizations could learn from Mattel’s experience. It is easy to get bogged down. That’s bad for productivity and even worse for creativity. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, executive, sales-and-marketing person or any other type of professional, creativity has never been more important. To be successful in today’s competitive and fast-paced world, you and your company need to innovate.
Don’t let unnecessary hurdles dampen your ability to develop brilliant new ideas. Don’t let bureaucracy and “structure” stop you from taking action.
Jeff Beals is a professional speaker and award-winning author, who helps companies increase their profits and associations achieve their missions through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. He delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.
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