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Leadership: It’s more than a business plan

first_imgRecently, a colleague shared with me a TED Talk by Bill Gross, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Idealab, a business incubator in California that has started over 100 companies, including Citysearch, NetZero, PETsMart and Tickets.com. In his talk, Gross shares the results of his research regarding what factors matter most for a company’s success. Specifically, he explores the product/service ideas, team, business model, funding and timing of both Idealab companies and high profile non-Idealab companies that have succeeded and faltered.Spoiler alert: If you would like to hear the results from Mr. Gross before I reveal them here, you can easily find the video through an online search. Otherwise, let’s move on…The number one factor in success for the companies studied was timing, followed by the team and execution around the idea. The idea itself ranked as the 3rd most important factor. This means that business model and funding were the bottom 2 factors.What?! The business model is 4th? I know, right?!Funding, I understand. But as leaders we spend a significant amount of time thinking about our business model, crafting strategy, designing 90- and 180-day project plans, forecasting and analyzing data.And, of course, there’s the team. You have to have a good team and with that, I’d say an equally positive culture. But even the idea is 3rd! That’s another big thing we spend time on… thinking of, vetting and promoting our ideas.Perhaps time for a deep breath?Maybe it’s not so shocking, as many business books discuss timing as important, at least in some degree, to the success of most enterprises. That’s where terms like bleeding edge, leading edge and fast follower come into play. Depending on the product, service, and other specifics relative to the business, any or all of those approaches may come into play through an organization’s lifespan.I also think this breaks down further to leadership success. Two of the books I’ve read somewhat recently come to mind when thinking of the importance of timing in leadership.In The First 90 Days, by Michael Watkins, which was recommended by a friend and sent to me by another shortly after my arrival at the New Jersey Credit Union League, there is indeed a focus on having a plan. In this case, not a business plan per se, but a personal plan of action in transitional periods. There are windows, of course, where one may aspire for x, y, and/or z by day 30, 60, etc. However, there is a constant undertone that deals with timing.Through learning, negotiation, team building, and more, a leader looks to move people towards the vision he or she has for the organization. The book also notes the importance of matching strategy to situation, which is also strongly relevant in this sense. While there may be a 90-day plan, as the book title suggests, making sure the team and operational environment is prepared for the steps that need to be taken to move towards the vision is essential. At times this will mean slowing down and veering from your plan to assess and advocate for your idea. In other instances, it may simply be time to move forward so that an opportunity is not missed. In either case there is importance on timing, and as the leader, it is of the utmost importance to be aware of this.Another friend from “credit union land” sent me the book It’s Your Ship, by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff, a retired Navy Captain. As a Naval Commander, Captain Abrashoff speaks to the necessity of accountability in his role and that of his team. There are deadlines to be met and long-held expectations and processes associated with military command and execution. At certain times he challenged the status quo in areas ranging from hierarchical expectations to onboarding procedures and even missile training activities. Most importantly, he says, he listened to his team to best understand the areas where his ship could improve.Throughout, Abrashoff references timing, both in the opportunities presented to him in his professional career and as it relates to the transformation of the ship under his command, the USS Benfold, from the bottom of the fleet to the Navy’s top performer. There were instances where he had thoughts on what may inspire his team or improve operations, yet he did not act until the appropriate opportunity arose to provide the highest likelihood of success. The Captain had an action plan which, in the traditional structure of the armed forces, was certainly significant. However, as a leader, he used timing and team, the same 2 elements found at the top of Bill Gross’s list, to drive success.The takeaway, I believe, is that you must have resources, ideas and, most certainly, sound planning to succeed in business. But to move an organization to a point of distinction, a strong team and culture blended with an astute sense of timing, is essential. 30SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Greg Michlig Greg Michlig joined the New Jersey Credit Union League as President/CEO in May of 2013. He has a strong background in the credit union, association and related financial services … Web: www.njcul.org Detailslast_img read more

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