CEOs: Curly Was Wrong – It’s More than One Thing!


curly from internetIn the movie City Slickers, Curly says, “There is just one thing.” I think he was wrong.

When it comes to driving business growth and fixing problems, it’s not just one thing. If it were, then you’d just fix it and get on with your growth. Then take a break in Barbados.

Chances are the source of your growth issues is more than one thing, and you know that. But with the constraints of budget, board direction, competition, and your management team, it’s not easy. That’s why CEO’s aren’t paid to solve problems, but to determine which ones are the most critical, and then assign your team to address those.

To achieve significant top line growth, it’s often a combination and interaction of Strategy, Marketing, and Sales. Then, add focus and execution.

When I began my practice in consulting, I was advised that I needed to specialize. Become a strategy expert, or a sales training expert, or a left handed feng shuie social media marketing expert. The rationalization was that you had to go deep. You couldn’t be an expert at more than one thing. Really?

However, I rarely saw the experts make substantial changes in growth. They made incremental changes that helped. But the reliance on specialized experts only is called the silver bullet syndrome. It’s the hope that an expert in the latest business trend can save you. Instead, Prairie Sky Group built a practice on going both broad with Strategy, Sales, and Marketing, and going deep in each area. It doesn’t make sense to go deep until you know you’re working on a critical problem. Growth is a process problem.

But the question is, “What’s your process for determining what isn’t working?” Here’s a simple example. If your sales are lagging, do you fire your VP of Sales, VP of Marketing, your training manager, or VP of HR? There are numerous things that have to happen before anything get’s sold. Have you hired the right sales people? Are they motivated? Are they trained in the industry, competition, product, and process? Are they getting qualified leads? And so on.

The important first step for a CEO to ask to stimulate growth is, “What are all the (process) steps required for growth to be successful?” The next is, “What isn’t working?” This is followed by, “On what else does the broken step depend?”  (“What are the dependencies or interactions?”) In order to drive successful and substantial growth CEOs need to ask these questions in all three disciplines of Strategy, Marketing ,and Sales. CEO’s need to ask these questions because sometimes your leadership team is biased by the perspective of their discipline.

Along the way, you can ask:
1.    Is it in the plan?
2.    What’s changed?
3.    Is this what the data says, or opinion?
4.    Why? And,
5.    So what?

Finally, the checking question is, “What’s my own bias and perspective?” To answer this question, you might consult a peer group, or an outside perspective. And beware when they tell you, “It’s just one thing.”

Do Great Things!

L. Hobart Stocking
Managing Partner
Prairie Sky Group

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