Thinking about the 30,000 foot view of profitable growth, one where you can see clearly what’s ahead and what’s behind, it’s also important to acknowledge reality. Reality holds that even though we may try to maintain the long view in the Sky, we spend most of our time in the Trees. I’m sure you’re familiar with the old adage “He couldn’t see the forest ‘for the trees”, which means, it’s difficult to maintain a view of the big picture (the forest) because you’re blinded by your current viewpoint in the Trees.
What does this have to do with developing a profitable growth strategy? From the owner’s, president’s or leader’s chair it means everything because their primary responsibility for growth is to balance these two viewpoints and make sure both the long view in the Sky and the short view from the Trees are both addressed simultaneously. The ability to balance long-term and short-term strategies is the most important single characteristic of successful profitable growth plans.
What can you do as a leader in your company to balance these perspectives? Try some of the following suggestions and see how they work:
Take a “Dave Day” Every Month:
One day each month schedule a day for yourself; call it a “Your Name” Day. Turn off your cell phone, Blackberry, iPhone, etc. and use your day to think about your business, work on your Growth Vision or further develop your plan for profitable growth. Take my advice and don’t do this at the office or at home. Personally, I go to the library or one of the university campuses nearby where I can get lost. The important thing is to do this alone with some peace and quiet,
Establish a Quarterly Theme that is Aligned to your Growth Vision:
Use this theme as your motto / mantra for the quarter. Hold weekly meetings that formally track your progress against your theme, even consider daily “standup meetings” with your key people to discuss their actions in support of the theme, and how to remove obstacles that are in the way. Tell everyone how you will “Celebrate” if and when you succeed – doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be effective. My current favorite example of a quarterly theme is Joe Madden’s 9 = 8 theme for his team the Tampa Bay Rays, who just beat the Red Sox and are now in the World Series. 9 = 8 means:
- 9 players playing hard every play for 9 innings
- 9 games won because of their defense
- 9 games won because of pitching
- 9 games won because of offense
- 8 teams in the playoffs if they execute the 9 rule
Resolve to work more “On” Your business that “In” your business:
This means that you as the owner, president or a leader should spend more of your time planning for what your business needs to do to be successful and to grow profitably than with doing everything yourself. Many people keep doing jobs to their long-term detriment just because it’s easier than telling someone else how to do a particular job. Working “On” the business is a justification for taking “Dave Days”, and then implementing your ideas and plans in conjunction with your employees whose jobs are to work “In” the business using Quarterly Themes.
These three suggestions represent a balance between the Sky and the Trees. There are many more examples of activities which you will undoubtedly find if you begin thinking this way. Please share some of them with me and others as you find what works for you and your company.
Charlie Alter owns Bentbrook Advisors LLC based in Sylvania, OH – he specializes in Growth Strategy Consulting & Executive Coaching, Charlie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org