The Magoo Syndrome

Suddenly, looking in the rearview mirror, while driving my three grown sons to lunch the other day, I became aware of two sets of eyes fairly bulging out of my younger sons’ heads in the backseat.

“Dad! Watch where you’re going,” their brother Paul all but shouted from the seat next to me as he white-knuckled the dashboard. We had just missed another…what? a lamp post? mailbox?…as I philosophized about politics, the economy…something or other.

Crisis over, the boys had another good laugh about me being like “Mr. Magoo;” generally “scaring the pants off” others around me, they wailed with laughter.

It was mildly rewarding somehow, watching my sons craning their necks and stomping on imaginary brakes at every intersection and lane change, as I drove on. Paul, my eldest son, couldn’t help commenting, “Dad, you definitely have The Magoo Syndrome! When you drive you seem totally unaware of all those folks blowing their horns and giving you bad looks, not to mention gestures.”

If you’re old enough, you may remember Mr. Magoo, a cartoon character my boys and I enjoyed when they were small. “Blind as a bat,” the character wore what we called Coke-bottle eye glasses, and drove around in his motor car wreaking havoc wherever he went. Magoo seemed oblivious to everything, as buildings and debris fell around him—people running for their lives. Yet, somehow he managed to avoid one near disaster after another.

For all of my vehicular challenges, it’s easy for me to see The Magoo Syndrome is prevalent with many owners and managers in the business world, who seem to be unconscious or indifferent to the pitfalls, errors, bottlenecks, interruptions, miscommunications—not to mention the clutter of paper and other materials strewn all around their offices and plants.

Unfortunately, if you bring it to their attention they’ll likely say, “Yes, yes, I see it, but we’re still making a profit. And besides, I don’t have time to clean it up…that’s the way it’s ALWAYS been around here!”

Philip Beyer, founder/president of Beyer Printing and Ebiz Products LLC in Nashville, TN, is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant, author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business," and an InterTech Award recipient for the design and development of System100™ business process management software. Philip speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses.
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