How Successful Executives Deal With Loose Change


dealing with change in business

Loose change is the coins that represent money less than an amount to be represented by a bill. In Canada, that is from the nickel up to the $2 coin, the so called toonie. Loose change can be found in desk drawers on the top of the night stand or bureau, sometimes in a jar. It doesn’t do all that much, kind of just sits there. Some folks like to arrange their loose change in rows, or, to collect enough  to make a roll of any one type of coin. Sometimes we play with the loose change, making piles or arranging in shapes, playing.

But wait a minute, isn’t loose change money? Isn’t money one source of potential, of energy, of bargaining power? Isn’t money a useful and usually good thing? Yet, there is sits. Once in a while it gets cleared, but for the most part, it is not adding much and in fact can be clutter in the way of my life. Hard to even dust when a surface is littered with loose change.

Loose change in business, what is that? Most of us pause for a moment and then come to a kind of mini ahaa, a realization that we have experienced loose change in business. Isn’t loose change in business the kind of change that doesn’t do all that much, kind of just sits there? Loose change does not take hold, is not taken seriously, casual, optional, not worth much, certainly not worth serious attention. Whoa, when I think about it the parallels are too many to ignore.

Yes, I have experienced that kind of change in business. Now that it is mentioned, an embarrassing number of examples are coming to mind.

Loose change in business is change that is deemed to somehow not be taken seriously. I get the idea that I have much more important things to attend to and simply, almost unconsciously, let a change in business become loose change. I decide that the change is unimportant and it would matter little whether I supported the change or not. I’ll act on the change when I feel like it.

Letting that thought/observation expand a bit, what might be the costs associated with a tolerance for loose change in business. One thing that comes immediately to mind is how the cut off line between what is serious and what can be treated as loose, will, human nature, creep upwards. Bigger things will start to be treated as loose change, tossed in a drawer, allowed to lounge around on my desk. Action is optional when I decide, even subliminally, that this change is a loose one. I think this is a virus of the worst kind. Such complacency, small at first, becomes a part of the culture, the way we do things around here. Complacency is a killer.

What to do?

Step number one is to pay attention to notice when loose change starts to infest the organization

Step two is to review the proposed change to again ascertain whether it is what is wanted and that the cost is warranted by the positive result that will arise. Inattention to this step can demoralize the team. If a change is not warranted, man up and let it go. Insisting on a change that is just not justified is hard on the team, disrespectful. If warranted, in my experience, once exposed, the team will step in and step up to make it so.

Step three is to sensitize the team to the success draining leak that I am now calling ‘loose change in business’. When people become alerted to the idea, they start to move to step one. You don’t even have to tell them.

Step four is to repeat, starting at step one and to be ever vigilant about loose change. One can ask ‘any loose change around?’ and can play with the language to make it a bit fun. Beware loose change. I can see the sign now, just like in WWII the signs said, ‘loose lips sink ships’. I say ‘loose change sinks success’. Adjust that as you wish. Have fun. Be more successful.


Joseph Seiler MCC