The Ugly, Old Couch


I was recently listening to a podcast from one of my favorite leaders, Andy Stanley. He runs a large organization and seems to be always talking about something I can directly apply to my life or business. Today I wanted to share with you a principle I gleaned from Andy: The Ugly Old Couch Principle. Alex Casebeer

Think for a second about your favorite couch (or love seat/over-sized chair) in your house. At one point in time, that couch was brand new, defect free, clean and sitting in a shiny showroom somewhere. You fell in love with it and had to have it! Over time, food and drinks have been spilled on it. Your dog pooped on it. A kid barfed on it. You name it – it has stains but also great memories. Children may have been nursed on that couch. Movies and popcorn were enjoyed on that couch. You fell in love with it for the sentimental value it brings.

However, a guest walks into your house and looks at the couch and thinks “What is up with that couch??”. Does this sound familiar? So you move it to the basement, or gift it to a child. You have a hard time getting rid of it! Stanley bridges the gap to the business world and says that every business has this potential of the “ugly, old couch”. When you create something – a product, a process, etc – you love it. You made it and it has sentimental value to you. But the danger is three-pronged: complacency, lack of momentum and lack of continual improvement. The danger is just living in and being ok with the ugly, old couch.

Where are the ugly old couches in your business? What do you walk by every day and ignore? What habits or rhythms has your company gotten into that fall into this category? My challenge to you is to create a culture of continual improvement. Toyota leans on the Japanese word “Kaizen”, which literally means “continuous improvement.” They look to all levels of employees for ideas, process improvements, product improvements and listen to them all. Everything is taken seriously. Are you a business or person who is striving to continuously improve? Or have you fallen into the depths of complacency and acceptance of the status quo?

Salem Magazine: Andy StanleyMy other encouragement is to place a high emphasis on the value of momentum. Nothing kills a business more than a lack of momentum. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the sales or a service industry - you need to strive your very hardest to get and maintain momentum. That entails constant activity, strategy, forecasting, planning, dreaming and executing. You CAN do it!

If you get time, check out Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast. They are short and sweet, but so valuable and impactful – at least to me! Until next time, look for those ugly, old couches. Stop walking around them and do something about it!