Think New Thoughts
So you are leading an organization with annual revenues between $1 and $40 million and you desire to break through to the next level.
The below recommendations assume that leadership can see growth opportunities and understands how the organization can / will finance the new growth. Growth isn’t for everyone and sometimes it is better to optimize our existing customer mix and not grow. If you are not sure how to finance your growth but see growth opportunities, contact us and we can determine how appropriate growth is for you financially and how / if it can be financed. Should you see growth opportunities and know how to finance such growth, yet the organization can’t quite seize these opportunities for one reason or another, some or all of the below recommendations will likely help either in execution or how you are viewing the future. Even if we are optimizing our existing customer mix, you may find these recommendations helpful to how you improve the performance and value of your organization.
“Think New Thoughts” was one of several “lessons learned” nuggets of advice shared by John Lewis in April of 2007 when he was the speaker for CEO Forum I. As 2013 begins, let’s consider what new thoughts will allow us and our organization to break through!
- Steve Blank refers to a CEO as being a conductor of a symphony.
Embrace this! How do we prepare each person to be the best they can be for the role they play in our organization? How do we help others become better than they ever thought they could become? How do we come together and execute like a high performing orchestra?
- First who, then what.[i]
Develop a group of A Players & B Players; move B Players to A Players and C Players to B Players. Remember, a leader is not to be served but to serve others helping our team grow and have a meaningful career / life.
- In order to achieve smart & sustainable growth, we must look at our portfolio of talent differently.
If we are going to pursue growth, we all must delegate more and prepare others to take on more responsibilities. We don’t want to overpromote yet we want to prepare as many people as possible to take on new responsibilities and receive promotions. If some are unable to take on responsibilities needed to execute at the next level, we will need to add new people. When adding new people, consider their talent based on their capacity to take on not one but two promotions over, say the next two or four years. If you don’t desire to grow or see growth opportunities, obviously, one can manage this differently yet A players and B players want to grow in their own career, requiring a growth strategy by the leadership of their employer.
- Develop clear organizational alignment both for today and for the future.
Develop an organizational chart that not only speaks to today’s organization but how the organization will look next year and the next. This means for future year planning, some boxes will be empty. This also allows others to see where promotions are possible & how we can help them “career plan” so that they can be considered for new openings as that time comes.
- After organizational alignment, assure that one person owns every detailed task that the organization can define.
One person should own each and every task of the company. Another person can be on their team or be there backup but one person needs to own the responsibility. The ownership tasks and the backup tasks can be established by detailed job descriptions with each person having primary and secondary responsibilities.
- While impatience got us to the top, patience is now essential. Push the organization forward, then stop and iterate[ii].
Determine how this new push is working and modify for improved performance. In order to innovate, we are going to make mistakes.[iii] In order to move at a more rapid pace, we are going to “break things.”[iv] It is part of the necessary price of progress. Have belief and a positive attitude and give your team confidence that after a series of iterations, we will move our organizations to a new level.
- Conduct autopsies without blame.[v]
This is a great way to assure we are staying patient. And it helps us get to the issues sooner and better. Conduct these autopsies without blame and if we find during our iterations that it is more of a person or an employee issue, begin to then focus on how to help that person. Should under-performance continue, it is sometimes best for all to invite the person to their future elsewhere optimally with dignity, respect and compensation.[vi]
- Consider the speed of change, the fact that someone is working right now to disrupt your market.
Moving fast to advance innovation or ways to add more value to how you serve your market has a risk / reward payoff. The faster you move to advance your value proposition, the less impact a new competitor can have if they in fact find a way to disrupt your market. The market will be disrupted but the impact will be less on you and your organization.
- Every one of us, every leader must be more positive! And remember that if we get angry, we give our power away.
By focusing on how we lead, focusing on ourselves, we can likely make as much or more impact on how the organization performs as anything. As we know we are doing our very best and doing all we can to help others be there very best, we will be more comfortable in our own skin and can lead people exponentially better.
- Contact us and see if joining a CEO Forum might be right for you and you might be right for a CEO Forum.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-310-5570
[i] Jim Collins, Good to Great
[ii] Iteration means the act of repeating a process with the aim of approaching a desired goal, target or result. Each repetition of the process is also called an “iteration,” and the results of one iteration are used as the starting point for the next iteration.
[iii] Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates, Principles and Culture
[iv] John James, CEO of Acumen Brands, Speaker of the Elevate Speaker Series; “Move fast and break things!”
[v]Jim Collins, Good to Great
[vi] Jim Myers, Founder of the CEO Forum