One of my favorite shows right now is Love It or List It, an addictive reality show about real estate in Canada and North Carolina on HGTV. Before you rule it out based on the title, hear me out: it’s brilliant programming, and chock-full of lessons for both for homeowners and business people.
On the show, a home-owning family or couple has to decide whether to keep their home and renovate it (love it) or sell it for a typically move in ready upgrade (list it). Typically, one family member will advocate for keeping, while another will prefer to sell. One side will consult with a designer, who works to renovate the home, and the other, a realtor, who scours the market for new ones.
Families most frequently choose the “love it” option, which tends to be more affordable, less of a hassle, and more emotionally satisfying than selling. The show offers a lot of insight for anyone looking to buy, sell, or renovate a home. But I’d like to present another perk: its lessons can be applied to the business world just as easily.
Here are 4 ways Love it or List it informs valuable business decisions.
1. Understand your needs
Before your company can implement serious change, or even small changes, you need to analyze the situation to figure out what your needs are. On Love it or List it, couples and families come up with a list of requirements for the renovations and a list for the new home. This sets the stage moving forward. It provides the designer and real estate agent with a clear picture of what is important to the couple, so they can compete with one another to better meet the couples needs and win.
Similarly, you can’t improve or fix a company without knowing what your problem areas are or defining specific goals. So analyze your business. Pinpoint what is working, and what isn’t. Draw boundaries, clear objectives, and make sure team clearly knows what winning looks like.
2. Set a realistic budget
After the real estate agent and designer receive the couple’s wish lists, their first question is what’s the budget? The couple then proceeds to give them each budgets. Neither is realistic for their wish lists.
In business, it’s important to understand your needs and then you must look back at them with a sense of realism. You need to prioritize your needs based on which investments will have a greater impact or more immediate impact on the business. This becomes your filter.
One problem the couples notoriously have is they do not agree on the prioritization. This creates confusion and a lot of guesswork for the designer and the real estate agent. Often, they try to figure out who the real decision make in the family is so they can prioritize his or her needs first. It’s the same in business. You need to understand your finances in order to set limits and allocate funds properly. It’s great to dream up the wish list. Then it must be prioritized back to reality and clearly communicated to the entire organization to execute on. If priorities are not clearly established than individuals within the organization will continue putting effort to the items on the wish list they as individuals see the most value in rather than focus their energy on the ones the organization knows will create the largest impact.
3. Renovations come from the inside out
One layer of paint won’t fix a home if the problems run deeper. Similarly, if a company has systemic issues, shallow changes won’t make a lasting impact. For example, if your company has structural dysfunctions making associates unhappy, a happy hour won’t fix them.
On Love it or List it, often times an unexpected obstacle, like a festering mold, will be discovered during renovation. Ignoring this mold could be toxic, but removing it is incredibly costly. It may seem like a pain to invest in the deeper issues, but it’s worthwhile to address them quickly rather than allow them to get worse.
It is important for companies to analyze their infrastructure, processes and organizational health on a regular basis to see if the company has any real needs that must be addressed before investing in something forward looking. These “structural” issues in a company can be easy to ignore until the day you can’t. Similar to the mold in a house, if you don’t see it, you can ignore it until you get very ill. If you spent your money on a nicer kitchen and cannot afford to fix the mold, then you will have a real problem when you discover it.
4. Compromise is important
Even if the CEO runs the company, they are far from alone in terms of vital parts. Investors, co-founders, CFOs, and other positions of authority may have contrasting visions for the future of your company. This is a good thing — diverse opinions on a leadership level help elevate a company by challenging the status quo. But it also means that compromise is necessary in order to get things done.
On Love it or List it, a couple may disagree about whether to keep or sell the house, but ultimately they must take one another’s concerns into consideration and make a decision that works for both parties. Companies, too, should explore all viable options, then weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision.
Originally published on HuffPost