Or “Good is the Enemy of Great”
Our industry faces great challenges, both from within and from without. Plenty of folks are blogging about huge potential disruptors, both real and imagined. Rather than obsess over our fears, I’d rather we spent more time thinking about how we’re going to achieve our dreams. Still, before we can discuss strategies and tactics for achieving our dreams, we have to face a few internal barriers holding our industry back.
The first of these, and one of the worst for our industry, is the ethos of “checkbox compliance.” Does your website provide an amazing visitor experience? Is the design of your professional systems mind-blowing? Is your service so amazing that it creates loyalty and passionate advocates? Some industry organizations can claim one or two of these – or something close to them – but most stop short of greatness. All too often, our industry stops when only part of the work is done and something “works,” instead of aiming for greatness (“works really well”). I hear signs of this ethos all the time:
- “It’s what our vendor offers.”
- “Good enough for now.”
- “Only 10% rated us Excellent, but only 5% rated us Poor.”
If organizations in our industry are okay with “okay” – doing just enough to say they have done something and can check it off the list, rather than striving for doing something really, really well – we’re not going to achieve long term success.
The second is the focus on the short term and weariness with long-term efforts. I know you’re sick of talking about syndication. But has that issue (and others) been solved to everyone’s delight? Not really. Look at this: “Agents to create realestate.com.au alternative”
They’re not going to put up with a syndication environment they don’t like, and they’re going to go for it! Will they succeed? Who can say, but if they don’t try, they have a 100% chance of failure.
On that point, our third barrier is a fear of failure. I’ve heard it said that our industry has a “herd mentality”: there are a few leaders who are willing to lead – which generally means taking risks – and many who only follow once there’s a critical mass of their peers doing something. That culture of “you first” means that important efforts sometimes take a few years to achieve critical mass so they can reach their goals. And some in our industry will be paralyzed by fear regardless of how many of their peers go first. For example, despite the horrendous security practices I see in the industry, a lot of organizations do not want to get started with a security audit or a more general review of their risk management practices because they are afraid that somehow they will “fail” the audit. We can’t be afraid of failure. Failure means we’re aiming for worthwhile goals. Sometimes we need to confront the brutal realities and face real difficulties in order to succeed.
Lastly, there are organizational structure and management issues. We all know that the economics of the Realtor® association structure and the committee governance mechanisms (not to mention some fear of anti-trust action) make it unlikely that associations will ever raise the bar significantly to help create the “Realtor® of the Future.” Also, the kinds of things the industry can accomplish via associations and MLS consolidation and coordination are held back by a number of factors: to give just one example, next year’s MLS president is not going to want his or her MLS to be absorbed by another.
Some MLSs and Associations are doing really well. Some industry leaders might read this and say, “None of this applies to me.” But checkbox compliance and some of these other issues seem to be the rule rather than the exception, and I, for one, think that we will succeed or fail together. If you’ve got all of these problems licked, maybe it’s time to go help your neighbor.
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