Business & Leadership Behaviors Random Thoughts

Does Your Organization Need a 12-Step Program?

A friend of mine recently celebrated 25 years of sobriety. Between that achievement and all of the news regarding the opioid crisis, it seems like there has been a lot of talk about addiction problems and different solutions in my social circle. At various times, we’ve talked about how she changed her self-described train wreck of a life into a happy, healthy, successful one. In doing so, I was able to learn a little more about the program and steps that she used (and continues to use) to live a sober life.

While I’ve heard about these kinds of programs for years, you really don’t dig into the guts of them unless you’re in one – or closely associated with someone who is. But as time passed and I learned more from her, I was surprised to find a fascination with overall process and some of the steps in particular. What I think really struck me about them was how I could see them potentially applied to business.

Naturally in all of the different step programs that are out there (and there are many), not all steps apply to business. However, there are (in my humble opinion) areas of business that could use some of these steps. Here are four that I easily can see being applicable to some of our Asset Management Solution customers:

Step 1: Admit you have a problem

You can’t solve a problem if you won’t identify it, right? For example, with many of our Assets customers, they ignored or delayed addressing that they didn’t truly have the facts regarding the assets that they owned (where they were, what condition those assets were in, etc.).

In ignoring that issue, they put thousands of additional dollars in operations budgets to ensure they had extras so the tools they needed were available when they needed them. Many teams also spent money on insurance for assets that were long gone (but they didn’t know that since they didn’t have the data). My point is that by not addressing this problem, they were spending a ton of money that could have been used elsewhere in their organization – or just outright saved.

Step 4: Take an inventory

I’m told that this step is one of the most intimidating parts of the process. It requires that you take an inventory of all that you’ve done in your past that needs cleaning up. Think of it like taking everything out of the garage before you can clean it. You need to see what you have, see what to keep, discard the unnecessary and organize everything to put the space back together.

For our Assets clients, this is where we get groans and resistance too. Even though they know that they have a problem and they want to fix it – doing a full inventory of their assets is going to take work. They are going to find things that need to be dealt with and they are going to bring the truth of what they have/don’t have to light. And don’t think that last part isn’t one of the biggest hurdles.

Bringing out the “truth” can mean that they may be discrediting their own past asset reporting. But, just like in my friend’s step program – you need to get honest and put it all out there in order to clean up the mess and move forward.

Step 7: Work to Change the Bad Behavior

There are behaviors that we’ve practiced that landed people in a 12-step program – or got to that garage needing a big cleanup, right? And if you don’t address those and work to change them, your life (or your garage) will be right back where you started.

For example, say one of the behaviors needing changing in your Asset Management practice is that the team routinely just skims the asset reports and gave a response back along the lines of “that’s about right”. The result was that there was a growing departure between truth and the asset report after every inventory cycle.

Adding an automated Asset Management Solution that makes it easy to review inventory – and gives you the peace of mind of accuracy since the user must scan the asset to count it. Easy for the user means it’s more likely to get done. Automation means it’s accurate – which lets you breathe a little easier.

Step 10: Keep an Eye on Things

This step is about maintenance. For the traditional 12-step program it’s about reviewing your day and quickly setting right anything that could end up in a future step 4. It keeps the garage clean, so to speak.

This is also critical for businesses. Whenever you finish some kind of effort –an inventory, a solution implementation, whatever – it’s always good to take a look back at the effort and see what could have been done differently. Ask yourself, “is there anything that I need to fix to make this effort correct?” Or, if all looks good on that effort, what did you learn and can do differently to make the next effort better? In my opinion, there is always room for learning and improvement.


I’m really proud of my friend and all of the work that she’s done to change the course of her life. I know it wasn’t easy and takes an ongoing commitment. But I think she’s a great example of how things can dramatically change and improve – if you do the work & do it consistently.

You never know where inspiration can come from. In this case, my friend’s experiences have taught me a new perspective (and some constructive actions) for our business and our clients. Have you had some lessons or inspiration for your business or clients that came from unexpected sources? I’d love to hear about them.

And, of course, if you’re struggling with your asset management practices – we should definitely talk.