Episode 23 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
Why keeping it simple wins every time.
One of the great traps leaders and leadership teams fall into is excessive complexity. Smart people particularly want to use their intellect and not let it go to waste. They don’t want simple strategies, yet most of the time simple strategies or simple tools are the most effective, especially when they are built by people with a deep understanding. Brad and Kevin talk about the importance of keeping business strategy and business tools simple, and what happens when you don’t.
Kevin Lawrence – Lawrence and Company Growth Advisors
Brad Giles – Evolution Partners
YouTube – The Growth Whisperers
Episode show notes
Brad Giles 00:13
Welcome to the growth whispers podcast where everything that we talk about is about building enduring great companies. I’m Brad Giles. And I’m joined today by my co-host, Kevin Lawrence. Good day, Kevin, how are you doing today?
Kevin Lawrence 00:29
You know what, Brad, I am doing great. It’s a beautiful, beautiful day up here in Canada. Sun is shining, we’re enjoying the end of our summer season. It’s great, it’s a great day, actually a really great day.
Brad Giles 00:43
Nice to hear it nice to hear. So tell me, what are we talking about today? What’s on your mind? What’s on our mind today to pull apart?
Kevin Lawrence 00:55
Yeah, you know what we’re going to talk about the advantages of being simple, or a simple tin, or keeping it simple, stupid, the old acronym kiss, you know, talking about kissing in a work setting, not exactly where we’re going with this. But actually, the complexity of simplicity is really what we’re going to dig into, and how it’s an advantage for companies as they’re growing. If they can manage the complexity of simplicity, and we’re going to have some fun with that. And some examples, I’m really looking forward to it.
Brad Giles 01:29
I don’t understand the complexity of simplicity. Can you make that a bit simpler?
Kevin Lawrence 01:35
Yeah, exactly the wonderful Mark Twain, who said one of my favourite quotes, I would have written you a shorter letter. But I didn’t have the time. That’s also right, succinctly takes a lot more time than to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And just, you know, fill an email with 400 words actually is a lot easier than 36 words that exactly make your point in, you know, 4.7 seconds. And that takes us it’s a skill, it’s mastery, to be able to manage the complexity and boil it down into simplicity.
Brad Giles 02:19
Well, you’ve really got to understand something you, you’ve really got to understand something deeply. to articulate it simply. Any, any fool can make something more complex but making something so they often do. And they often do, making something simple is so important. And here’s the thing, I heard this quote recently that I’m going to repeat you up to people with a lot of intellectual horsepowers, they want to use that they feel that their capabilities are wasted if they don’t use that. So when they see simple tactics, simple strategies, simple approaches, you know, they feel like they’re wasting their efforts. They feel like they’re wasting their time.
Kevin Lawrence 03:09
And it’s beneath who they are, and their education and their pedigree and all these other things. It’s like, if they were to draw three simple circles in two words, it would not be a fair reflection of who they are and what they know and where they’ve been. And I and I’m empathizing with that.
Brad Giles 03:32
Yeah, the ego is the enemy. Ego is the enemy of everything that you want and everything that you do, but simplicities are so valuable, it’s almost like they need to prove by the complexity and the depth of the information that they’re presenting to you that they are capable of doing that. When in actual fact, it everyone it’s like everyone around them is looking thing you will want you don’t need to do it like that. Why are you doing it like that? You need to make it simple.
Kevin Lawrence 04:10
Yes, because it’s impressive. And it’s almost like it’s like a performer that’s exerting a lot of energy and working hard and doing all that stuff. There’s something impressive about the exertion Yeah, but yet a true master can do it with a 10th of the energy and sometimes a 10th of the time and I give you an example of a metaphor. Let’s take chef’s Yeah, you know, there’s if you’re learning to cook and you want to make something really flavorful, and I remember doing this me and my buddies once we made chilli for a chilli cook-off. And this is here in Canada, it was for part of a political group that we were experimenting with and there was a chilli cook-off so we did it. We put like 47 different ingredients in our chilli including three different types of hot pepper and hot sauce. I mean, this chilli had a bite.
Brad Giles 05:01
Kevin Lawrence 05:02
think we did fairly well in the competition. But it was like, we didn’t know what we’re doing. We figured the more we throw in, the better we’re going to do. And yet, by contrast, I’ve got a great friend in the Middle East named Ed. And Ed, he is an Italian guy living and working in the Middle East. That’s where we met. He is a true Italian cook, he is a suspect. Some of the best dishes in my life have been in Ed’s kitchen. And you know, great stories, a bottle of wine and so and some amazing food, we got to know each other very well there. But I remember this pasta he made once. It was fresh pasta, olive oil, and chillies. three ingredients. And a blew your mind. It was so good. Yeah. But an amateur would have like 14 ingredients in that thing. Trying to pump it up. Make it good. Yeah. And that’s really what we’re talking about one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. Yeah, add three-ingredient ingredients in some crazy Italian guys kitchen.
Brad Giles 06:14
I’ve got an example that do you want to close that sentence?
Kevin Lawrence 06:17
No, I think that’s it. But that is that that’s the simplicity that comes from mastery and really knowing what you’re doing and not overdoing it or over complicating it.
Brad Giles 06:29
Yeah, so the world, I guess, the center of the world for tech is Silicon Valley. Okay. This center of brisket is Texas. Okay. I think,
Kevin Lawrence 06:42
yes, I like how this is going!
Brad Giles 06:46
Well. You may there may be people who would disagree with that. But it’s you know, they’re pretty famous for cooking.
Kevin Lawrence 06:54
In Texas, there’s another state in us. Memphis is also known for barbecue and brisket. But we would have to have a, we would have to have a live taste test, Brad, to be able to choose if either, you know, Memphis or one of the cities in Texas was better, but we don’t have that option. So do continue. Yes,
Brad Giles 07:16
Texas brisket has a rub, which is just salt and pepper. and line up, people literally get to the venues at six or 7 am and line up like 50 people deep to get a piece of brisket that’s been slow-cooked over a fire with salt and pepper on it. And that’s it.
Kevin Lawrence 07:35
It’s just salt and pepper?
Brad Giles 07:36
Just salt and pepper. That is the Texas rub.
Kevin Lawrence 07:38
It’s not dipped in barbecue sauce with 47 spices.
Brad Giles 07:44
well, they do a barbecue sauce. That’s a separate thing. But the rub some of the rubs that you get elsewhere are incredibly complex. Yes. But Texas brisket is salt and pepper. Now that’s not even talking about the sauces, but even their sauces are simple. So this is a principle that applies across
Kevin Lawrence 08:04
to what we need. So what we’re saying is, you need a simple Italian pasta dish with some nice, a nice Italian pasta with some American brisket. And then now you’re set for a simple beautiful meal. That’s really where we’re getting to.
Brad Giles 08:18
And, and the taste will be fantastic. But those people know how much salt and pepper, they know how much well how much chilli and so there is depth in the knowledge behind it,
Kevin Lawrence 08:30
and the temperature and all the other things about how they’re doing the brisket, which I have no clue.
Brad Giles 08:36
Yes. And so how does this apply to building enduring great companies?
Kevin Lawrence 08:45
That is the question, well, we got the food part covered. But the same thing if you think about it, as companies grow, they are complex by nature. Because of all the moving parts, different employee needs, systems, processes, customers, etc. And, you know, from from the work that we do, usually when we go into companies, either they have no plans and systems or they have all kinds of things but they’re so damn confusing that people can’t get the benefit from them. So the complexity over weights the the value of the system, so even though they might have detailed processes and handbooks and the complexity of those does not enable people to do their job better on a daily basis. And there’s some real smart people who may have developed those policies and processes and put thought into it. But what they didn’t have is the ability to simplify it and boil it down. So it’s easier for the people doing the work to do the work well and efficiently and that’s The root an example I’ll share, and Brad I know you have lots is when we look at people’s strategic plans, or the goals or, or the way they explain things. Like, one of my pet peeves is what I call kitchen sink objectives. Right? You know, it’s like a something that’s going to improve customer service. And then it’s got 14 different projects or measures, it’s like, we’re going to do everything to make the customer happy. Well, that doesn’t work yet, because you can’t do everything well, it’s almost like instead of just we are going to enhance salt and pepper. It’s like salt and pepper and garlic and hickory and parsley and cilantro, and, and, and, and, and, and then 42 other ingredients, well, it’s just way too much, and it makes a mess. So it’s keeping it to that salt, salt and pepper simple is a great way probably from what you’ve shared their bread to put it. And we often end up trying to boil things down. So there’s just a few things that we do, but we do them unbelievably well. And then it’s easier for people to one stay focused. And then to when we apply it to systems, it’s easier to actually do your job.
Brad Giles 11:17
It is, so I was meeting with a person the other day and I said to him, so what’s been really kind of transformational? No, I remember what it was. They read my book, they read my book. And I said, So what was it that you kind of that you took out of it? Like 55,000 words? What was the one thing and they said, you know what it was it brought me back to I’ve got to have two KPIs per person and translate that. I’ve got to make it simple. So which is good, which was fantastic. I wanted, you know, I wanted to know, what did he get? And what he got is, I’ve been trying to make everything too complex for each role. There’s got to be two in every area. There is a burden of complexity. That is it’s almost like people make things more complex for no added value.
Kevin Lawrence 12:10
Not almost. It’s not almost they do.
Brad Giles 12:14
Yeah, it’s human nature. You look at the parliament, Parliament’s and governments look at adding new laws as being beneficial, which many times they are, but they get more complex and more complex. And then what about in 100 years, if we’ve got 100,000 new laws that no one even knows, it’s just human nature to add more things on?
Kevin Lawrence 12:40
So why? Why do people make things more complex than is? In many cases effective? Often, Yes, why? Well, tell me the answer Brad I like I want to know, please.
Brad Giles 12:58
Far be it from me to know the answer, but I will offer an opinion. And I, if I exclude the government, I think Yeah, I’ve even included look, I think in a company, it’s emotional junk. I think that inside your head, inside people’s heads, they look at something and they think that would be better if we did that, or they look for things that are going on, rather than looking and thinking because they want to make things better. And that’s driven inside by some kind of emotional junk, perhaps. That’s an elaborate theory. I know.
Kevin Lawrence 13:40
That’s what you’re saying is because of an emotional reaction or having, they think that this becomes really important, and they start adding stuff is what I’m hearing.
Brad Giles 13:50
Yes, that’s right. So then they’re making things more complex than they need to be. Let me give you an example. There’s a company here in Australia, who will remain nameless, that I don’t work with, but I’ve seen their core values. They’ve got 21 core values. They’ve got none. They’ve got none.
Kevin Lawrence 14:13
They got a dictionary on the wall.
Brad Giles 14:15
I’ve got a photo of it that I can’t show
Kevin Lawrence 14:18
that just like then you have no core values.
Brad Giles 14:21
It’s It’s crazy. It’s crazy right? Now, how did you then get to a point where they had 21 core values? My thinking is, someone thought we’ve got to have that one as well. And what was it that prompted them to think we’ve got to have that one as well and that one and that one
Kevin Lawrence 14:41
it was a popularity contest, or something where there’s like everyone would make everyone feel good contest,
Brad Giles 14:47
and that was driven by something emotional,
Kevin Lawrence 14:51
and a facilitator or someone who doesn’t understand core values leading the process guaranteed the word core values means the ones at the center, which is usually three, four or five. So not only is it, it’s someone got excited, they wanted to make sure everyone’s word got included, we see this in purpose statements or visions or missions, oh, god, it’s like, you know, we’re going to be a great company and care for people of all, you know races and and and backgrounds take good care of our customers and be an employer of choice and continue to grow and be in every continent on the planet, and the world will be happy. It’s like, okay, so you’re gonna do everything, but in the end nothing.
Brad Giles 15:38
And you know what I say a night when they say that, I just let the silence take the room and I say, Look, I’m sorry, I was just a little bit sick in my mouth.
Kevin Lawrence 15:48
You’re nicer than I am. I tend to have it, I tend to have an outburst, which might be emotional junk. So So here’s the thing. I like what you’re saying their bread. And here’s what I think. Here’s what I think. I think that in many, many of those cases, they actually haven’t taken time to think. Because it airs. It’s like, they didn’t even finalize their first draft. It was not taking time to think.
Brad Giles 16:25
Yeah. So I think that I think that what we’re saying there is that you really need to deeply, deeply understand exactly what it is that you’re talking about. They didn’t take time to think yes, absolutely agree. They didn’t deeply understand it. And that was the premise at the beginning of this episode is, is you can only make things simple, if you deeply understand them.
Kevin Lawrence 16:55
implicitly, is an output of mastery.
Brad Giles 17:00
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, like I don’t want this to sound like an advert. But that’s why you need someone who knows what they’re doing facilitating your off site, because we do this all day, every day. This is all we do. You know what I was doing? This we were going to be doing next week. This is, you know, one of the things explaining
Kevin Lawrence 17:21
to something I’m explaining to someone I had, you know, we had a conversation about the future of an industry in a strat planning meeting that we did. And you know, and one of the executives is sort of like, well, how can you say that with such confidence? Kevin, you don’t have any facts? I’m like, well, I’ve been through five industry disruptions. I know what it sounds like, looks like feels like and I’ve studied digital disruption deeply with some of the best consultants in the world. So I don’t know for sure. But I have, my guess is about 10 times more educated than most people because of just what I’ve been exposed to, I didn’t want to say that it wouldn’t have been played in the meeting. Yeah, it’s because I am not a master. But I’m, I’m closer than most. And I have had many masters I’ve studied with around these topics. And again, it’s not I still might not be right. But it’s, it’s it’s this mastery piece. And that’s, that’s where the simplicity because we’re at a level of if you look at most things, at a level of mastery, things are actually quite easy, obvious and simple. And I will take something, for example, in the world of cars and driving, which I’ve talked about for a passion of mine, you know, I have become, I’ve had some amazing coaches over the years and become quite competent. And I know when I am doing my best driving, it’s so easy and almost effortless. The car just dances. Yeah, it’s not like grinding and screaming, it’s just kind of floating and doing its thing. And that’s like, that’s like mastery actually looks various. It’s mastery looks deceivingly simple, huh. But it’s only because of the mastery and the challenges. There’s that learning your craft to become a master, right. And that’s, you know, whether it’s a facilitator or someone helps you with strategy or fixing teams or whatever it is, um, but then the other point is putting the time into it. I’ll give you another example. So we just finished an annual planning session, part one for 25 people in a company executives and leaders. The meeting went very smooth. There was very good alignment with the people as the output of the meeting. It looked like it was very simple once the meeting was going, you know, I there was work Do but I like I wasn’t sweating and frantic and everything. It was actually quite simple. But we’d spent an incredible amount of hours up front preparing for it. Yeah. So the amount of work we did up front and debating with the executive and CEO and myself internally with my team and working it out and back and forth and creating templates and using tools. It made it look very simple and fairly easy to get the work accomplished. Yeah, no, that’s, there’s like, the equivalent of running probably 2000. strategic planning meetings. Yes. And hundreds of hours of working on this new technology mural that you introduced us to that’s been working very, very well. And hundreds of hours on zoom. And, you know, a lot of hours of prep for that’s all. It looked like it worked. It worked quite Of course, it works very, very well. Yeah. And it was very simple. Very simple. But very hard to that is not an easy thing to replicate for someone who doesn’t have those experiences.
Brad Giles 21:12
Yeah, I have a similar story. Thinking about a client, we’ve been working together for six or seven years. And we’ve built all of these strong foundations like we knew the values, when stress tested, and we knew all of the components of the strategy, we knew the differentiators, everything was locked in. And then we got to a point where we worked on the flywheel by Jim Collins, to build the momentum in the business. And it seemed really simple. It seemed we put it together, and it worked. And we stress tested it a bit. And we changed a couple of things. But it I think the people in the room were maybe not stunned, but they were really surprised at how simply, it all plugged together. And I said the only reason it made sense. The only reason it plugged together is because of the previous six or seven years work that we’ve done getting us into this point. Yes. So that we understand all of this. So well. It’s and now we make it really simple through the application of an introduction of a flywheel. But it’s the depth of knowledge that the team has got that gets us into this point.
Kevin Lawrence 22:26
It is. So the depth of knowledge and knowing is one. And then the second, as I mentioned is that editing process that Mark Twain talks about, because to deliver, you know, whether it’s a great strat planning session, a great key a keynote or, or other speech, or a great business case, or a great marketing strategy, there is an incredible amount of boiling down and simplifying that you need to do and editing down and takes a lot of time. Like we’ve figured out when we do training programs, we deliver training, it’s at least 10 hours of preparation for every single hour of delivery. Yeah, yeah. Because of the boiling down and boiling down and boiling and simplifying. So it’s knowing what the heck you’re doing, and the work and labor to get there, and to get it to those simple levels. And that’s why processes and companies are often complicated. Because it would take a couple hundred hours to simplify it.
Brad Giles 23:32
Yeah, totally. And so this plays out in our strategy work that we’re doing with clients, for example, in the statements that we build within the plans that we build something like a brand promise, or something, perhaps even like a core purpose, we’ve got to make it simple. And I remember the first business plan that I read, wrote, I remember the first business plan that I wrote, maybe 20, something years ago for my own business. And that was very much it was thick, and it was detailed. And I took it to my accountant at the time. And he said, this is the most complex and comprehensive business plan that I’ve ever seen from a startup. I can’t see how you’re going to fail, which was lovely, right? And it’s a great story to tell, but it was too complex if I did what the business schools said you should do, which it just it was so complex that I read it and I understood it. It made sense to me. But yeah, that’s partly not the job because part of the job of building a plan is communicating the plan simply did those who weren’t a part of the planning process. And you touched on that earlier. Yes, and we’ve got to be mindful that no matter how much you understand as the CEO Or even as a leadership team member, communicating something like a brand promise can very easily sound like a tagline, which is one of the most one of the greatest wastes of ink known to man. taglines.
Kevin Lawrence 25:19
Yes, I agree
Brad Giles 25:21
that people can just go, Oh, that’s a tagline. And they thinking back to Mad Men and type stuff, the TV show. But it’s the depth and the simplicity and the communication that really matters.
Kevin Lawrence 25:34
And that’s why we both love this thing called the one page strategic plan that’s out of the book scaling up that I did a lot of work on. And you know, and always remember those interviews with those 50 CEOs around the world that had scaled very, very well. And but everything in the damn thing is so simple. Lots of it comes from Jim Collins and a source material. A lot of it is Jim Collins and his awesome, awesome work. But you talk about something called brand promise to get that right. Real brand promise, for those that aren’t familiar is I prefer to call it the customer promise, what it because brand promise takes you down the path of marketing, which is not meant to be it’s almost a What do we take a stand for delivering to our customers tangible things, we can measure that we want to make sure that all of our strategic decisions support or fit into? Yeah, so it’s actually not about brand, it’s more about what we promised to our key customer or consumer. And it’s really helpful. Now, most people end up with big convoluted taglines that don’t really add a lot of value. We don’t need another tagline or a slogan usually. But when you get those three strategic pillars of what we stand for, Damn, it’s powerful. It’s hard work, it’s really simple. And most people have a hard time getting there. It’s, it’s, it’s not, it’s easy to come up with 7, 14, it’s easy to copy somebody else’s slogans don’t take a lot of they’re quite easy to come up with. But nailing what you stand for, that makes you unique and is meaningful to your customer is, you know, that really kind of identifies your sweet spot that’s darn hard donor and same things, getting the purpose, right, or, you know, even there’s lots of things, you know that. And the work that we do we try to get things in a sentence. Yeah, to identify your big investments and to come up with three or four big investments over the next three to five years to double your business in size and strength to express those in a meaningful smart sentence. Man, it’s hard. I can give you 10 easily. But the boil that down, and not only the boil down communication wise, but to throw out all the stuff that you say is secondary, or doesn’t even need to happen.
Brad Giles 27:55
Kevin Lawrence 27:55
That’s work, that’s time. That’s debate.
Brad Giles 28:00
Absolutely, And it’s got to align with the customers need and the opportunity in the market to be strategic. So you unless you understand the customer, unless you understand what they actually need, unless you’ve done a lot of the work behind the scenes to really get that. And you can then understand it, articulate it, monetize it, and then communicate it to your people. It’s, it’s a struggle. It’s this. It’s almost like it’s one of the milestones in the process that one uses is are we making this simple enough? I’m writing a moment and it’s something that’s it’s a thought that’s passing through my head all the time. Am I making this simple enough? Am I have I got too many tools? Have I got too many explanations and that’s the problem when people write books is the reader wants a thin book that simple?
Kevin Lawrence 29:07
Brad Giles 29:09
Yeah, they think I want to be able to read
Kevin Lawrence 29:11
The writer wants a thick book to show how smart they are and represent their brand and and and, and show how, how well they have leveraged the education and experiences they’ve had. Yeah, the customer, the customer wants 10 or 20,000 words, and the writer wants 50 to 100,000 words.
Brad Giles 29:16
And that’s the same thing that we’re talking about all the way through. It’s coming back to emotional junk. That’s what’s driving people to make things more complex than they need to be.
Kevin Lawrence 29:43
Brad you made me think about in design and architecture, which is something I appreciate I have no skill in it. But I can tell when I walk into a hotel, or a home. I almost I met this game I play how many times has the architect done this before. And the best or the best architects, everything is so simple. And it’s just like, of course, it’s simple and easy and elegant. Like I was this home, I was looking at any area here. And, and it was home on a hillside beautiful view. And the architect put the elevator in the middle of the house on a view home. Now it’s cool, it’s got an elevator, don’t get me wrong. Yeah, but I’m like, don’t think this is a highly experienced architect because an experienced architect would have known, putting a big, physical obstacle in the middle of a view room might not be the best choice. And I many, many times I’ve come across this. And then when you see it’s design of any form, but when you see design that is simple and elegant. And just like, of course, that’s a that’s hard, like even auto design, hotel, design, all of that stuff. And then you get the young keener architects or designers, and they’re trying really, really hard. And you can see all these things. Well, they’re trying really, really hard. And they complicate things, even though it might be impressive, or it might look good. And it’s good for the ego, balancing out your emotional junk. Over time, with mastery, they can learn about less is more simple as the way to win. complexity is not scalable, or executable.
Brad Giles 31:33
Yeah, and we spoke before about the 80, 20 Pareto rule, I, I love that rule, I have all of the leadership teams I work with, read that article and really understand about that, and how it affects you every day. But I think that what we’re talking about here is something a little bit different. And I’d be happy to be corrected. In that what we’re saying is more, it’s more mastery, it’s more. And you’ve got to understand what it is that you’re trying to achieve, you’ve got to understand all of the things behind that. And then the job to be done is to make things to make it simple to make your plan.
Kevin Lawrence 32:19
So both in the plan or the system, or the execution needs to be as simple as possible. And that requires a high degree of mastery. But just because you have mastery does not mean you you get simplicity. Right there. It’s like you’re there to leverage you need to work together. Yeah, mastery gives you a better chance of creating simplicity. I mean, yes, not being that you can create simplicity when you’re not a master. But that will be simplistic. It’ll be simple, but not near as effective. Masters. So not being a master and focusing on simplicity is not a bad strategy, you’ll just you don’t know what you don’t know. And you’ll miss stuff or get stuff wrong. Yeah, mastery on its own, doesn’t mean you get simplicity, but mastery focused on simplicity. There’s a magical combination there.
Brad Giles 33:10
I love that. I think it was Einstein, who said something like any fool can make something more complex, but a genius will make it simpler. Yeah, um, it’s, it’s, I think it’s, it’s also in what we see in mid market companies. It’s really, it’s almost, maybe not a job to be done. But it’s something that we need to keep front of mind. Am I making this more complex for no reason. And I go back to the example of Jeff Bezos, now, one of the richest people in the world. But he’s a pretty smart fella. If you look at his background, he’s he’s had some pretty interesting jobs that you wouldn’t say he’s a slouch intellectually. And then you look at their strategy. You look at their flywheel, you look at what they do. There is nothing overly complex about it. They’ve got a deep understanding of what they’re doing. And then they’re making it really simple. You go to their flywheel. I don’t have it in front of me, but it’s something like, offer lower
Kevin Lawrence 34:20
I have, I have it right here,
Brad Giles 34:22
offer lower prices, and then attract more customers.
Kevin Lawrence 34:27
more customer visits, which are more third party sellers to sell to those customers, which enhances the website in the offerings. This is one of Collins’s book about turning the flywheel yet which gives you increased volume per fixed cost, which allows you to dig in prices increase as you increase the volume per fixed costs, which allows you to lower prices, get more customer visits was brings on the third parties, which makes the website more attractive which gives you more leverage of your fixed costs which allows you to lower your prices which bring anybody in customers,
Brad Giles 35:01
anybody can understand that.
Kevin Lawrence 35:04
not everyone can stick to it, Brad. And that’s the difference. How many times are we working with companies where it’s damn simple? Oh, we need to expand Asia? Oh, we need to get in, we need to vertically integrate, or Oh, we need to do this. Oh, we need to get into Jason business. And sometimes those can be winning moves. Um, normally, they’re not. Because they don’t, you know, there’s a saying stick to your knitting, stick to the core things that really mattered your business. I mean, I’m not saying not to expand, I’m not saying not to vertically integrate. But people get excited about them, and do it in ways that create more complexity than the leadership or management can handle. And next thing, you know, they’re wondering why their business is painful.
Brad Giles 35:52
It’s almost like there’s an elephant in the room here.
Kevin Lawrence 35:57
Brad Giles 36:00
So, you and I work for ourselves, small firms, and we work with mid market companies. The job of large multinational consulting firms is to make things more complex.
Kevin Lawrence 36:21
Because then you can charge more fees. If it looks more like more work complex? Yes.
Brad Giles 36:25
Well, because then you can charge more hours there. That’s their billing hours. Yeah. Okay. So they’re going to so you use the phrase vertically integrate. Okay, so why does the executive say, I think we need to vertically integrate? Is it because they’ve got a deep understanding of the benefits of vertical integration? Or because it sounds cool, and I’ve got some emotional junk that’s driving me? How much have these large multinational organizations made things more complex? Don’t get me wrong, they do amazing work
Kevin Lawrence 37:00
many of them are awesome.
Brad Giles 37:01
Awesome. I there is no shortage of the impressive work that they do. But are they making things more complex than they need to be? Because the underlying business model is then they can get more consultants to come in with different things. They can make things more complex? I don’t know that’s it’s borderline. What is it called?
Kevin Lawrence 37:27
conspiracy, conspiracy theory,
Brad Giles 37:31
borderline conspiracy theory. But you know, like, we’ve got to deeply understand it and make it simple. And there is a great value to that.
Kevin Lawrence 37:40
There is and you know, one of things I’m very grateful for Brad, is that I’ve worked in many countries around the world, as I know you have as well. And I’ve got to be for 25 years sitting in the boardrooms when we have those discussions, and then we make the decisions. Yeah, and I know what happens after you say, hey, let’s expand to another country. It’s a peep show. And it usually burns between 10 and $50 million. And, and it’s, it’s guaranteed, and it stresses out the CEO and the executives and it strains the company. And sometimes it’s worth it. But unfortunately, if you haven’t been there, done that before. It sounds good to textbooks, your friends in your in your fraternity, or forever, you’re back home. Sounds awesome. And for you, it’s exciting. I mean, hey, opening up a call center in India sounds like a great idea. Hey, yeah, you know, because you get to go to India, and you might think you’ll save some money. Haha. You know, there’s, there’s all kinds of hypothesis. And again, it’s not about not doing these things. Don’t get me wrong, but it’s about having experience and mastery. And that’s why one of the strategies that we do around mastery, especially when you don’t have it, is to rent it got a chapter in my book called quadruple your IQ. It’s darn important if you want keep scaling. And it’s defined what we call 14 x advisors. 14 X’s another way of expressing master. What that means is they have been there and done that 14 times before. So if you’re going to expand from Australia, into Singapore, you need to find someone who has done some if it’s an advisor, like a lawyer or an accounting firm or whatever consulting firm, you want someone that’s helped with that transition 14 times before as a concept. You don’t want it to be their first time or their first rodeo, you don’t want it to be their first time cooking a brisket on the barbecue, right? You want the experienced person. So that helps you on something. And I will give you one of our favorite strategies is not to go to the consultants. Although consultants are can be helpful. I mean we believe in consultants. They can be very For sourcing data you can’t get generally. But you it’s calling up other CEOs who’ve been there done that if you’re a CEO, or CFO and say, Hey, we’re from Australia, or we’re from Canada, and we’re looking to move into Europe, we know you’ve successfully done it, I’d love to hear about your experience. Right? So there, you’re tapping into the wisdom and understanding it. Yeah, that’s, that’s one of the strategies that we it’s an underutilized strategy very underutilized. And that’s why that’s the benefit of some of these executive education programs, whether it’s a, you know, Harvard, or EO or YPO, or any of the, you know, it could be the Mackay CEO forums we have here in Canada renaissance in the US, or, you know, tech, the executor all these CEO groups, you make great contacts that you can learn from your peers. Yeah, yeah. And, and that’s, that is a big, big, missed opportunity for a lot of people. And they do what we call home baking it. All it means is you don’t you’re not a master baker, and you try to figure out how to make it. And you don’t have the wisdom to be a master. It’s, it’s so easy to get that perspective. Now. You still have to get back to the simple part. But starting with a master is usually a good way.
Brad Giles 41:22
Yeah, so let’s look to round this up. So what we’re saying here broadly, if you’re a mid market business, are you falling into the trap of complexity? are you falling into the trap? of not understanding, trying to let your emotional junk dictate things that are more complex than they should? And instead, perhaps being a bit more humble, understanding things deeply and saying, How can I make this as simple as possible? What else?
Kevin Lawrence 41:56
Yes, and taking the time to boil things down, and make them simpler and simpler and simpler, which is what again, we love the one page strategic plan, you’ve got little tiny boxes with rooms room for few words. Yeah, so it’s taking time to work through to get it simple. And, you know, a company we’re working with is working on what are the behaviors of the executive team that we want the executive team to live by and role model in the company. Some people would have a list of 12 or 15, or 20, it ain’t gonna work, you need to get down to the five, six, maybe seven, that everyone lives and breathes by just like core values, just like the most important processes just like the key ingredients. And back to that at 20 minutes. It’s the time to edit and refine and simplify. And make sure that you actually get the master because then it’s easy to one stick to and to scale. And that’s what most of us need simple things. Simplicity enables scale. Lots of smart. Yeah, awesome. So that was a great conversation. And I want to phrase this is about salt and pepper. Simple. That’s my new frame. We started off with the complexity of simplicity. But then we’ve got salt and pepper. Simple. I like that a lot, Brad. So hey, guys, thanks for listening. This has been the growth whispers podcast with my good friend Brad Giles and myself, Kevin Lawrence. You can get Brad at evolutionpartners.com.au and myself, you’ll find that Lawrenceandco.com We hope you have an awesome week. And you yourself, find a way to leverage simplicity. combine it with mastery and allow your business to scale. Have a great one.