The overarching theme is your Company’s mission statement. What is the purpose of your organization. It all starts there. How you determine your pillars, how you lead your team and your rhythm needs to gel with your mission statement. Our Company, by example, has had to manage a number of pivots to survive or grow - in our industry, it’s critical to anticipate and execute quickly. In doing so, we’ve had our share of turnover (but, not anymore) and have also had hardships. But, one thing is consistent - our mission has never changed. How we are executing on our mission has evolved, certainly. But, the Mission of the organization is steady and as solid as a rock. It’s been my saving grace in explaining why a pivot is needed - justifying the adjustments to the team based on externalities (outside the triangle) that require we adapt and improvise.
Outside the triangle is the market landscape - it’s all the external factors that impact your business model. This can include, but is not limited to: competitors, legislation, policy, investment community, industry changes, etc. To be successful, you need to understand a key key items:
How do you stack up?: Last year, I was on a business development roadshow - 7 weeks of travel - it was grueling, exhausting and aggravating. The more I learned on the road, I understood that what we were building back at Headquarters was a fundamentally wrong. Meanwhile, back home, team mates were under the impression they were doing a good job (and many were), but they were misguided. What we were building wasn’t relevant anymore - we needed to pivot. I came back home and delivered a message - we were going to pivot (hard!) and reboot the Company. To do this, I literally had to reinvent the culture, move offices (to create the scrappy, vibrant environment that has made us successful today) among other things. I believe this pivot was all led by one simple question - how do you stack up? If you are building a product that the world doesn’t need or you are not solving a pain point in your industry, you are going to be out of business soon. You need to understand your relevance. Then, you need to get your team on the same page and explain ‘why this is so important’. As the orchestrator, you are responsible for changes in the direction when the market tells you to pivot. If you don’t, then there will be trouble (and it’s not pretty, trust me!)
Timing: If you ever read the Audacity of Home by Barak Obama, you know that timing is everything; his political career was all about timing and execution. I think business is the same way - if you understand your industry and sense there is a correction on the horizon or adjustments need to be made to capitalize on an opportunity, you need to be able to pounce! But, you need your team and your culture fully aligned with you. The best way to be able to capitalize on market timing is to have the inner part of the triangle in complete harmony - with a high morale and strong sense of confidence that you will lead them to your Company’s Mission.
Rhythm and Culture: The three pillars of the triangle needs to work in concert with one another - consider it your universe; each and everything interplays with one another. This is the rhythm factor. You as the Founder, CEO or leader are responsible for orchestrating the necessary pieces of the organization to reach your Mission. The rhythm is central to your Company’s culture. If your leadership team is stuck in paralysis by analysis of ‘Data’ or misaligned on core objectives then you are likely confusing your team - in the absence of clarity, culture is compromised. As we all know - culture is everything. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy; and, if you are not careful, it can turn on a dime. (There is a great book called The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz that can be applied to organizational culture). You ultimately want to ensure your team is a well-tune orchestra and you are the conductor.
About The Construct:
Inside the triangle is the business, itself. It’s basically all internal items and pillars of focus. You can think of it like a person - what are your values, traits, strengths/weaknesses, etc. Outside the triangle is ‘the market’. Like a person, it’s not you, it’s other people and how they react to you - do they like what they see? do you care? all that jazz. So, here we go:
Inside the triangle:
Top point: Focus. This is all about focus and alignment. You absolutely must have a simple communication tool for your company’s overall focus and alignment. Team members need to know that what they are doing is going to be fruitful and, if done exceptionally well, rewarded. It sounds simple, but it is hard. The classic Entrepreneur has attention deficit disorder - we see shinny red balls and, without focus, we chase those shinny red balls - seeking excitement, “something new”, whatever. The trust is, your team mates probably don’t understand why you are not focused. Is it that what you are currently doing isn’t successful? not successful enough? the other opportunity is so big the current opportunity is no longer interesting? there are a ton of questions. When you get and stay focused, you will see success. You will also see greater buy-in from your team - you can then build systems and processes for long-term success (Assuming the opportunity is viable); this will, in turn, create more success with your team - success breeds success. A classic example of this is Zuckerburg’s facebook - each leadership meeting - they walk out with one thing (only one thing) to focus on. It’s that focus that has revolutionized the social media platform industry.
Bottom left point: Data. We are data freaks at Palmetto. We love analytics. From a management perspective, you want as much data at your finger-tips as possible and presented in a way that helps you understand whether you need to make adjustments. Numbers are simple and tell you a story. Do you like what that story is telling you? If not, what do you need to do differently? Prior to establishing ‘data’ as pillar to our organization - we were a rutter less ship, lost at sea, without a captain (any other sea-based analogies). Sales projections, by example, was a ‘gut instinct’ from our head of sales or cash needs was an ‘estimation’ - if those two things weren’t forecasted correctly (and they were not) then we would be in big trouble (and we were!). As we build out our software and databases, we focus on management tools required for decision-making.
Bottom right point: Competitive Advantage. In the early days, identifying and focusing on your competitive advantage is everything. If you don’t know what your Competitive advantage is, then you need to stop everything and figure it out. Otherwise, you will focus on too many things and, as a result, spread you and your team thin. Even big companies forget this principle - and eventually fail. I would initially focus on one, maximum 2 competitive advantages - until you execute those in full, do not lose focus. For your non-competitive advantage areas, you should structure partnerships and manage reliable outsourced relationships. Overtime, you may decide to in-house those areas, but don’t do that until you have the basic completive advantages as building blocks. This way, you create your Company in a way that has long-term viability.
About a year ago, I created a communication tool to explain the fundamentals of Palmetto’s business model - and I called it the Rythmic Triangle of Success.
Origin:The triangle is used to illustrate your company’s priorities, culture and relativeness to the every-changing market landscape. My Company, Palmetto went through a doozy of a business model adjustment - I needed to create a communication tool that would consistently communicate our Company’s goals. During this trying time, I stood in front of the Company each week for a period of 20 weeks while I had to transition the business. Basically, I was facing imminent bankruptcy and need to pivot fast as we were losing lots of money - the underlying issue was our business model, not the product or service offering. The pivot was very rough and took it’s toll on the team and me, personally. But, the outcome is was worth it - The Rythmic Triangle of Success is still applicable in today’s business model and is the core of my internal presentations.