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Is Your Business Broken?


Seth Godin, a marketer and author known for his books Tribes and Linchpin, did a TED talk in 2010 offering up the question, why are so many things “broken”?  

In this humorous presentation, he mentions signs with poor lettering, messages that don’t make sense, and appliances that don’t function properly. But it’s the why these things happen that’s so interesting. While some of his excuses aren’t as relevant, many of them can be directly tied to business.


The first few deal with employee problems, and the others often align with the employers.


“Not My Job”

Maybe you’ve heard of that one? You didn’t tell me to do it, that’s so-and-so’s job, so I’ll do nothing even though I know it’s wrong. Maybe I won’t even tell you it’s a problem until you find it out for yourself…because it’s not my job.

Even worse than that,


“I Didn’t Know”

My manager, supervisor, or you didn’t explicitly tell me to do or not to do something, so I went ahead and didn’t use common sense or didn’t check with anyone and now it’s broken. Sorry.

Sometimes, they’ll have trouble with, as Godin calls it:


Not “Being a Fish”

This is when a person refuses to or is unable to put themselves in the shoes of another in order to understand what their needs might be. In his talk, Godin describes a story where a fish drain is about two feet short of a river leading out to sea because the contractor never stopped to think that a fish without legs or wings could make it from the mouth of the drain to the water a few feet away because they themselves weren’t a fish. Or maybe it’s because:

The World Changed

By the time you were done creating your product or service, the world didn’t really need it anymore, but you pressed on with it anyway instead of reevaluating, asking customers what they would change, or by scrapping it completely and starting over. Maybe now sales have dwindled and less and less people need it.


Then there are some that can really hurt a brand.



If you say your business, product or service does something, make sure it does it! There is nothing worse than having advertising that contradicts what you’ve said your product does or will offer. That’s a sure-fire way to get people to not buy from you. It’s much better to identify who your customers are and sell to the appropriately than to try to be all to everyone and scare them all off.


Being a “Selfish Jerk”

I bet you’ve seen it somewhere before. This is when a person is so profit-driven that they do things like spam,throw annoying ads up, or put you in an uncomfortable position so you feel obligated to do something, often buy their product or service. Often, this just frustrates people and makes them remember to not buy anything from them offending company.


Breaking it on Purpose

This one speaks for itself. Some people break things on purpose, either to get time off or maybe to get a new machine or program. Companies may decide to use planned obsolescence, where they engineer a product to break over time so that customers will buy from them again. Any of these situations are bad for business. If a person finds out that your product consistently breaks after 2 years when others last five, that’s going to steer business away. It’s much more beneficial to strive for high quality products and services and use that in your marketing plan.


If any of these things have gone on in your business, now’s the time to think of ways to solve them. It could be making a thought out business manual, a detailed job description, a set of criteria you look for when hiring employees, who knows? But something should be done about it. Soon. It’ll save you in the long run, so why not?
Questions on how to get started? Contact us.

Published Monday, Aug. 17, 2015

Alyssa Seaney

Contributor, Bravio Group, LLC

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