By Talmar Anderson
So many times in business we are chugging along but something feels off. Maybe your company is not bringing in the kind of revenue it should be. Perhaps you personally feel disconnected from a business mission or the customers served that have been “your life” for the past X years. Maybe you see a path that looks promising but the amount of work and money involved to pursue the opportunity is keeping you from moving forward. How do you know when it is the right time to spend time, money and your energy changing your business? Or do you need to try ONE more time to see if you can connect on the original intent/ product/ process? When do you stop trying the same things and look to effect change? Insanity may be doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome but when does change not feel like a failure?
If you feel a change may be in order for your business, make the change about an informed and quantified outcome. By taking emotions out of your test period, you will have a logical guide to keep you moving and yet let you get off the crazy train when it is not connecting. Look at the issue that is not succeeding the way you intended and create new metrics that will move the company towards the ideal. Then set a realistic yet shorter time to review and come to a decision.
Perhaps the company has a product you designed that you just KNOW is the best thing since Swiss cheese (I know the saying is sliced bread but I know a Swiss cheese lover and this is how we say something is Really, REALLY good!). The business plan goal was to sell 10,000 Swiss cheese products by the end of the second year. Most companies do not start looking for real change until later…like 3-5 years in. But let’s say at the end of year 2, your company has only sold 300 units. The market is just not buying your Swiss cheese product.
The company can (and hopefully did) reevaluate and approach the market from another point of view but now we need rules. Rules that will allow us to walk away knowing we tried but “it” was not working for us. This goal will help take the doubt and nagging “what if” feelings out of the equation. Create an “IF’ goal. This goal is a second and new goal that is more realistic in terms of historic performance.
- If I do not get 20 more clients.
- If I cannot connect more to the purpose by adding 5 hrs. weekly for front line interaction with the clients.
- If I launch a targeted short term program that converts 5 new distribution channels.
In our Swiss cheese product example, we will say our “if” goal is to sell 100 units in 6 months. This goal assumes that we are able to operate our company with revenues of 100 units within a 6 month period. This goal also assumes that we are trying something different. This is about change so what will we change?
To allow for sanity and a life that does not lead down the Howard Hughes path, the “If” goal MUST be followed by a “THEN” statement. This is the decision statement.
- “Then” I will put all the company’s marketing dollars into the service side of the business and shelve the product.
- “Then” I will look for a new purpose and find a buyer who IS connected to the business mission and customers.
- “Then” I will commit more of the company’s budget and resources to developing and launching the newly tested offering and diversify
Did you notice that the “Then” statement had 2 parts? An action and a defined decision. The action is the opportunity to turn this disconnect into an opportunity. Action allows us to move away from the idea of failure and move towards the idea of successfully making a decision that will create a better outcome. It may not be the original outcome but it is an outcome with a better “feeling” behind it.
Ideas do not always connect. New Coke, anyone? Know when to say OK…change is here. Testing a new tactic and a quantifiable decision point can give you the confidence to know it is the correct decision.