Re-start-up, Zombie businesses, AI without losing control?, Return on luck & Leaders mental health
31st May 2020 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realised. Make big plans … deep into the future. Aim high in hope and work. Have faith, remembering that a noble plan, once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will still be a living thing.” Daniel Burnham
Hope you’re Thriving!
Fantastic news this week where I live with the Government moving to Phase 3 restrictions, meaning that in a week restaurants, gyms and cinemas will open with full contact sports also commencing and up to 300 people are able to gather in one place. But, we’ve only had around 2 cases of community transmission in the past 6 weeks. In phase 2 we’ve seen it get really difficult to get a reservation at restaurants and owners having to ask patrons to pay a deposit when they make a booking.
For many people who are looking to re-open their business, apart from the obvious safety obligations that will be required, there is a real risk that they could suffer terrible consequences simply by waiting for customers to arrive – who never do. Customers are thinking differently now and there can be no assumptions made. This environment requires a whole new mindset, a little like a start-up, but what I’d call a re-start-up. Maybe they were a scale-up before and business just kept on coming through the door. Maybe a shop in a mall, or perhaps a reputation. Make no assumptions, if you were a new business starting up, what would you do? A grand opening party, or make calls or attend networking events? Ask what do I need to do in order to be a successful re-start-up. And plan around that to create a lot of interest and excitement about the re-opening.
Without a successful re-start, without putting a lot of energy into re-starting your business, as a start-up would, you risk becoming financially numb from the gateway drug which is Government stimulus paying you to keep employees employed. This stimulus will end and if, for those who are a recipient there is a real risk that they are going to get an awful shock and simply can’t afford to continue. It’s like they are destined to collapse when the stimulus dries up as if they are zombies. This interesting article discusses this concept further “ ‘Zombie businesses’ surviving on Government support face collapse later this year”.
So more than ever, now given the economic challenges we are faced with, leaders need to re-establish their vision, or if necessary rebuild their vision. Shake off the hit from the last quarter and look to their strategy and the future vision of BHAG they are trying to achieve with their team.
Whatever has happened, has happened and it’s time to move on now, that’s the one thing that teams need to remember now.
Excuses don’t bring results.
So if you want the results, eliminate the excuses.
This week I had two interesting thoughts about the BHAG, because most people dramatically overestimate what they can achieve in 90 days, and dramatically underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.
First of all, was from Joe Rogan who is the number 1 podcaster in the world and last week sold his rights for $100m in a 3-year contract. This tweet was from 10 years ago when he felt motivated to start something online. He had an idea, a vision and achieved more in ten years than he thought he could.
Second, I met with a CEO this week for the first time and we were reviewing their existing business plan. They were already number one in their market and they had a 5-year plan to create a healthier balance sheet – logical extensions of existing numbers like reduce debt by 10% per year and increase revenue by 10% per year. It was generally well done and made good sense in some areas, and even contained a reasonably logical flywheel. But in the midst of all the sensibility, there was one glaring omission through both our conversation and the plan. There was no vision, no Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It was almost like the elephant in the room, that they didn’t talk about, and when I raised the issue, they said “that’s a really hard question”, they were already number one in the market, didn’t want to expand geographically and didn’t have a destination to go to.
As we went through all the other components of their plan, like Core Purpose, Profit per X, and what makes them different, gradually a few ideas on a long term goal began to emerge and a sense of relief swept over them as something worth pursuing and a deeper sense of purpose began to emerge. And I reminded them people dramatically overestimate what they can achieve in 90 days, and dramatically underestimate what they can achieve in 10 years.
This week I was asked about how an upcoming speaking engagement I have from Made To Thrive will help leaders navigate Coronavirus. And I can understand why people who are curating an event would want to know that for delegates. Make it relevant to the situation today. Adapt to help leaders navigate the situation. But the more I thought about it, the more I disagree, to a degree. So I responded:
“The only way I can think of that the talk will help is that right now, more than ever we need leadership. In companies, Government and not for profits.
We need leaders to be better to help us get through this. And I’ve trying to present a step by step process to help leaders get better.”
Then I reflected on a Clayton Christensen HBR article I recently read from 2010 – How will you measure your life and in particular the closing paragraph.”My conclusion: Management is the most noble of professions if it’s practiced well. No other occupation offers as many ways to help others learn and grow, take responsibility and be recognized for achievement, and contribute to the success of a team. More and more MBA students come to school thinking that a career in business means buying, selling, and investing in companies. That’s unfortunate. Doing deals doesn’t yield the deep rewards that come from building up people.”
What I’m interested in
I enjoyed this interesting TED talk from Sam Harris talking about Artificial Intelligence and the potential impact it could have, and what needs to be done.
From the talk “Now, that might sound pretty good, but ask yourself what would happen under our current economic and political order? It seems likely that we would witness a level of wealth inequality and unemployment that we have never seen before. Absent a willingness to immediately put this new wealth to the service of all humanity, a few trillionaires could grace the covers of our business magazines while the rest of the world would be free to starve. “
Watch the Ted talk here: Can we build AI without losing control over it?
Interesting graphs I’ve found
I’ve spoken several times in this newsletter about how Coronavirus is impacting the economy and different industries, but I found this infographic comparing many different sectors quite interesting.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
On episode 7 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
Return on Luck
All companies experience good and bad luck statistically to approximately equal amounts. Success comes to the teams who get a higher return on the luck events they experience according to Jim Collins. Kevin and Brad talk about what matters to get a higher return on luck, and how leaders can use the return on luck concept as they look beyond COVID.
Ferrari back to work theme
The Growth Whisperers talk about Ferrari’s new theme called “Back on Track” and how leaders can use themes now to align teams to safely get back to work.
Leaders mental health
In what is one of the most challenging times for society, and especially small to medium business leaders, Brad & Kevin share practical tools for entrepreneurs and their teams to evaluate their mental health and discuss why entrepreneurs need to actively look after their mental health.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
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