Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Bringing the Latest in News Straight to Your Screen


Hard Things About A Hard Thing: How To Build A Business With The End In Mind

By News Creatives Authors , in Small Business , at August 26, 2021

A seasoned transformation executive, Kash is CEO, President, and Board Member at Virtana Corp, a SaaS-based hybrid cloud management company.

In a series of articles covering keys to a successful business turnaround, I have covered the importance of acting quickly to stop bleeding and utilizing active listening in order to adjust.

Turnarounds are hard, and there are no easy decisions or exact answers, so my goal is to share insights based on my experience and observations in order for leaders to be as prepared as possible. In this article, I will cover:

1. The importance of creating a product strategy that anticipates industry trends to create disruptive innovation.

2. The importance of investing in people during tough times and celebrating milestones.

In building a business you have to start with the “end” in mind and use a simple approach to building products and becoming profitable. To start at the end is simply to understand the job to be done for the customer. In reality, nobody wakes up and wants to buy your software or solution. They have a job that is not getting done. They want to hire you for your capabilities to do that job.

As a leader, you need to think about: What is the job the customer wants to be done? What is the outcome they want to achieve? Can you develop a product they love that is incredibly easy to use? How do you create an enduring relationship? How do you engage with the customer in the pre-sale, sales and post-sale phase of a relationship? How will you measure success?

It is critical to have outcome-driven innovation to fulfill customers’ needs. Deep caring with empathy about the customer’s need as well as a passion for achieving that mission empowers you and your business.

Late Harvard professor Clayton Christensen, author of the book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, said, “People don’t simply buy products or services; they pull them into their lives to make progress.” Truly understanding the job to be done requires anticipating customer needs by observing them with empathy. You must then experiment, take risks and fail fast to learn fast — prototyping with iterations to find the product-market fit and ultimately deliver a return on investment.

All stakeholders in a business need early victories because it is a long road. In fact, in my experience, turnarounds that deliver financial results and create improved value take at least three years. CEOs and general managers need time to create an effective plan, set clear goals and then execute. While moving toward these long-term goals, early victories help keep employee morale up, assure investors that milestones and progress are being made and further engage partners.

However, always keep in mind that these victories are not “mission accomplished” but rather “milestones achieved.” Celebrate milestones to create excitement, but be careful, for claiming an early victory can, in fact, backfire. Celebrate achievements but admit when you fall short. 

The Long-Term Focus

Some things in turnaround will work, others will not. No plan is perfect. Listen, learn and adapt. Rather than avoid stakeholders when things go awry, over-communicate during such times. Staying focused on long-term objectives takes courage. Short-term pressure can be intense, and leaders can succumb to myopic decision-making, harming long-term health.

But remember, the largest requirement of a successful turnaround is talent. Ironically, many companies resort to the reduction of training or team building in an effort to save cash fast. Investment in people sends a message that the company is doubling down in its most valuable asset, energizing the staff to be invested in the turnaround. 

Imagination, Leapfrog And The Next Big Thing

Companies/business units often need a turnaround because they lag behind the market or competitors. It can mean that a linear growth path might not be working, and the company must reposition itself to deliver higher value to the customers. It is one of the reasons a company — even in a turnaround — may pursue an acquisition. The goal is to leapfrog the business to new capabilities and get ahead of the curve.

In some instances, leaders have the courage to wait for “the next big thing.” A story about Steve Jobs as told by Richard Rumelt in his book, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, illustrates this. 

It was 1998 and Steve Jobs had returned to Apple. The turnaround was on a successful path. As Rumelt writes, “Jobs had cut the product lines, outsourced manufacturing, and streamlined GTM to focus on digital, to stop the bleeding.” Rumelt noted to Jobs that in the PC market, Apple could be a strong niche player, but its growth was limited. Jobs’ response was, “I am going to wait for the next big thing.” In the years following, Apple would release the iPod, iPhone and other era-defining products.

My point is that in a turnaround, you could make incremental progress with meaningful product improvements that do the job. However, you can also create an entirely new industry if you anticipate the technologies on the horizon and align them to the job to be done.

In the case of Apple, it changed the music industry then the mobile phone. It was imagination and empathetic understanding of the jobs that had yet to be done. As an example, did you know you needed a smartphone before it was invented? In starting with the end in mind, customers will have a solution to complete a job with a product they love.


Forbes Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners and leaders. Do I qualify?


Comments


Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published.