One Step Back

If you've led a business for some time, you know it's critical that you to consider the obvious questions... because often no one else will.

A real life example:

The leaders of an organization were deep into setting expectations and making plans for the following year.  All the top functional voices were around the table, and real enthusiasm had emerged for the prospects of Product Line X.  It was going to have a breakout year.

Hours into the conversation, it became clear: they could find that many prospects, and sell that much product, and bill that many customers... but they didn't have enough people to deploy it all.  And adding enough people to deploy all those new systems would kill the profitability of the growth.

Despite advanced degrees, years of experience and direct responsibility for the functions, no one was considering the simple equation:  (# of New Customers) multiplied by (# of Hours Required to Deploy) divided by (# of Available Deployment Hours).

The equation was neither difficult nor hidden.  It only required a step back to look at the obvious picture.  But it's easy to get caught deep in the nuances of analysis, planning and (maybe more than all) a desire to make something work.

Are any of these obvious-but-often-overlooked pictures emerging around you?

  • It requires something we're just not good at.
  • Customers don't really value it.
  • That problem has already been solved another way (cheaper, better, simpler).

If so, are there other opportunities where the obvious picture is more encouraging?