Thursday, March 14, 2013

Unplug your Function and Focus

A couple important things to reflect upon just after my most recent business group meeting.  I belong to a group called Vistage, which is a pretty high level entrepreneurial group of folks who act as board members for each others businesses.  It's really a good format and I enjoy it.  We work through lots of things and, as business owners, most of us have the same problems.  This group genuinely likes each other, so we have a wonderful time drilling down, helping each other where needed; usually the "been there, done that" reminders of similar situations that we can all relate.  I find this group most helpful, and am thankful and feel fortunate that I can participate.

Lately I have been centering myself on "unplugging".  Not in the sense that you would think, based on any of my previous musings; in the past I would tout the necessary reasons for getting the hell out of the business to recover outdoors; gain control of that which brought you to the point of near collapse.  I have been there so many times I can't even count.  But I didn't really benifit because of what was missing.  What I have learned in this past year in this group and with the help of my new partnership, I need to unplug in a different mannor.

Wapiti Adventure Entrepreneurs in Tucson, AZ
I spent a bunch of years advocating the "getting out" of the business to renew, re-charge, re-invent, re-animate.  We even started a business called Wapiti Adventures (just before the recession mind you).  This businesses catered to the needs of business owners, burnt toast folks, needing some "oxygen inspired thinking" (this was actually our tag line).  We had a great time with this and I hear that it is moving forward soon.  From a marketing perspective Wapiti was great.  And at the time, the company had cash to do all sorts of crazy entrepreneurial stuff. I am in the process of selling that business for virtually zero; the second in a year that I have shaken off of my shirt-tail.  I won't be putting another dime in to anything like that in the future.  Staying focused is a whole other topic.

Nope, the un-plugging that I am referring to is a much broader, more meaningful thing to me now that I have been exposed to some practical concepts with my new partnership and with my new group of fellow business owners.   Should I choose to adhere, I will join an elite group of folks who are just that much more successful in their businesses than the standard.  If I am successful, I will have performed for the two most important things in my work life; my clients and my employees. 

I will not work "in" the business.  I will work (and this is so cliche) "on" the business.  If  plugged-in to a function, whether it be Field Operations, Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, Finance or whatever, if I take a functional role in any of these areas, I will lose perspective.  Not to mention the fact that I am not really proficient in any of them to the extent that I can make a difference after years of doing whatever it is that I do. 

What I am proficient and/or need to be proficient in, is managing the continued improvement of these functional areas, and the relationship by which they interact with each other.   My "functional" role is to establish the appropriate partitions and perpetuate a transparent culture of priority  and continuous improvement.  It helps if you have a basic framework of performance management delivered by your HR department.  I am not smart enough to do that, so I surround myself with the best in this and all the functional areas.

This isn't new stuff, and certainly not considered ground breaking material.  But there is a real moment of clarity after a couple months forcing yourself to stay on the periphery--staying out there long enough to gain the perspective--that little dashboard in your head that visualizes a harmonious interaction of productivity--information flowing upward versus downward from you.  You must start a communication process necessary for everyone to understand their role and why the roles would likely change, evolve and or in some instances go away.  These concepts are found in the Rockefeller Habits and the Great Game of Business.  Google!

For me, I wasn't doing a very good job of communicating any thing other than the need to keep motivated, stay positive and good things would happen.  This worked for quite a while but we never broke out and got to the next level. For 13 years our company rose out of basically nothing into a business with credibility and poise.  But we all know that if we are not growing, not continuously improving, we are moving backwards, and that erodes capability and sustainability. 

If you are interested in more of this stuff, I'd be happy to share, simply drop me a line. 




No comments: