Most new client onboarding begins with an initial “discovery” step, a 70-question discussion covering topics around; what they sell, how they function internally, their industry’s outlook, the ways they find customers, a leadership profile and more. Like providing a medical history at the doctor, the method allows the participants to quickly get to the essential issues that got them to me in the first place.
In my small business consulting world view, there are only two essential barriers to fixing any of the functional problems in “command managed” entities. First, is an inclination to protect certain prized systems or people by exempting these factors from scrutiny. Second, is the inability to proceed in an open and curious way to observe, access, and re-engineer.
Leading change costs less!
With every client along the way, a count that now reaches beyond 200, plus my earlier assignments as a cog in corporate America, I see fear – particularly of change, both at the top and down through the ranks. It is at the core of almost every underperforming business, department and player. Controlling fear in business may be nothing more than being able to see and understand the essential truth in all of it. Along the way, another enduring observation is the notion of “a beginning, middle and end to almost everything.” Knowing where you and your industry stand at this moment will help to mitigate fear. If you have competitors that are growing and appear to be operating with greater control, then the likely conclusion is that your industry is stable and you should be able to figure out how to get a fair share.
Are you watching change happen or making change happen? Going in tomorrow to do what you did yesterday might be easy, but the law of diminishing returns suggests it is not a sustainable strategy. Having a vision for the way your business should operate is the right first step, but overcoming the business fears manifested in one’s head might require some assistance.
Consider this real-life example of fear compromising growth. Here is an owner that took some risks years ago and built a nice business. Now that she has something that works, the leader becomes more protective of these methods and more content with the status quo. As a result, there is much less willingness to do the kinds of things that got them to where they are in the first place. In this case, the business model changes little while their competition are actively finding ways to build a more responsive platform.
Yeah, I’m afraid the only proper course is to embrace change, or at least be fully aware of what is going on all around us. Do so by investigating your market and regularly perform competitor analysis. Get insights from customers, vendors and friends of the organization. Investigate other industries to see what innovations might be adaptable to your circumstances. Above all, get out of the office, and your comfort zone on a regular basis with a provocative perspective coming from curiosity and wonder. Ask yourself, what would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
If you can’t let go, can’t afford to, or are tied to old methods, start by having an outsider take a look at the fine details of your operations. Downloading a CEO and creating a more progressive, more versatile operating prospective requires an experienced collaborator that comes to the matter with years of experience in companies just like yours. Whether your goal is growth, or operating with more robust controls (think, more “you” time), consider the risks associated with your not being able to sustain the future of your business, then call me for a discussion on how to secure your operations.