10 Jan 2017

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD

by Paul Adams

When we run our businesses, it is very easy to see things that other people are doing and think, “we can do that too—probably better than they can”.

It’s natural.
I love the confidence that it takes to think and say those things.
But, what I love even more is the confidence it takes to say no to ideas that can cause distraction.
To commit to a plan and stick with it.
To identify who you are, as a company, and to stand your ground when opportunities pop up.

Unfortunately, from many experiences I have had, not enough leadership teams have taken the time to be strategic with their planning.
They have yet to truly define their brand. Oh sure, they all have pretty logos. That’s not what I’m talking about.
Many have not spent the difficult time needed to put a stake in the ground that clearly states who they are, why they matter and how they plan on defending their ground.

Identifying where to play and how to win is crucial.
It provides the direction for the company.
It allows decisions to be made that will keep the organization on track.

As my friend Wayne says—it’s important to create “the guardrails” that keep a business from running off the road and into a ditch.

I’ve watched companies that have built their business on being a weight loss provider get tempted and launch a beauty product because some company comes out of nowhere and is, apparently, growing fast by selling beauty products.

So, they try to “be like Mike” and get into that same game—with no clear direction and reasoning other than, possibly, fear of loss.

We’ve seen companies that have built a business by catering to a specific demographic decide that they are missing out on the “Millennials” or “Hispanics” or the “soccer moms” or whatever… and, determine that launching a completely separate product within the company to attract that market will be the ticket to success. This can often create the opposite impact.

Lack of clarity and distraction is REALLY difficult to overcome.

By clearly identifying all the traits that make your company really special, you can craft a clear direction for the future.

I am not for a second suggesting that it’s easy. In fact, it is really difficult. And takes time.
But it’s worth it.

It takes courage to admit the strengths and weaknesses of an organization.
It takes a willingness on the part of the executive team to be open and honest with each other.
It requires a team to view things with clear eyes rather than through the lens of “because we’ve always done it that way.”
And, without question, it takes discipline to say NO when something doesn’t fit within the guardrails.

If you haven’t taken the time already, my wish for you in 2017 is to dedicate the time it takes to define your direction so that each and every year afterward builds on the success of the previous one.