Strategic Shift: Change Gears


Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve problems using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them”.

In business, we can only reach a certain level of revenue, profitability, scale and reach with the same kind of thinking and actions before we reach a point where we need a revised strategy, a revised action plan to go to another level.

With clients, I call this a “Strategic Shift

Think of it a little bit like your car…. Picture yourself driving along in second gear, you’re revving the engine, working it hard, but in second gear you can only reach 50 or 60km per hour. To get to 80, you need to change gears. You need a new gear. You need a new strategy.

Having a strategic approach to things is deeper than just adding on a new tactic (promotion or marketing campaign) as it will only force everyone to work harder in the same gear. Revving harder in second gear won’t make your team go faster. In fact, it can have the opposite effect to what you are after and it could burn them out.

No. At some point you need to step back, get a birds eye view of things, and look at your business with fresh eyes. 

A Strategic Cull

It might mean culling the product that takes up 50% of your time in customer service but only yields 20% of the profits. 

It might mean developing your Team to leverage the innovative ideas they have had all along but have been too scared to share because they value job security over pushing the envelope with you or within the organisation. 

A simple shift could be as simple as identifying a culture built on fear and “this is how we do it here”. Culture could be your bottleneck. 

Trust is a two way street.

Building trust into your Team so they feel comfortable pursuing ideas for the advancement of the entire business, the good of the people you serve, and the ultimate profitability and growth of the business takes time. 

It also takes evidence.

People in leadership positions must prove by rewarding and letting go of old ways that often involve reprimanding errors and mistakes and giving people the freedom to pursue new developments with a safety net that keeps the business alive.

Google’s Genius is NOT That Technical

In David A. Vise’s book, “The Google Story”, he talks about Sergey Brin And Larry Page’s 20% Time Project which allows employees at Google to pursue one fifth of their work week on anything they like. 

This brilliant strategy has allowed Google to create more products, (some winners, some losers) in the last 10 years than most companies create in 100 years of business. And it’s not free time and it’s not without monitoring. The stories go that Google holds regular catch up sessions where people need to show how they have invested their use of time to justify their 20% freedom of creativity allowed by the online giant. It’s brilliant. It’s accountable. And it drives the worlds greatest online brand.

Now, you don’t have to do what Google has done. But what can you do? What shift can you make? 

If you’re not sure, ask! 

But you will need to ask someone who is not afraid to speak their mind and reward the uncomfortable feedback when you get it if you really want to change gears.

Most people are much smarter than we give them credit for. To stop and truly listen to your staff who are at the grindstone every day takes a little courage too. To listen to customers feedback even more so. But the CEO who gets on the phone in the customer service department will learn more in one hour than he ever could reading survey results.

Trust Your Gut 

Shifting strategies doesn’t always have to be the big, bold move we read about in the often repeated chronicles that make the famous pages due to their radicle nature.

A strategic shift can be simple and subtle. 

Offering a money back guarantee, when you already would give a customer their money back of they were unhappy or kicked up a stink about your product is not as radical as most business owners protest with their inner resistance. 

When you already do things, but don’t market it, their is perhaps an opportunity for some real positioning. Positioning is strategic. In many cases, a business practice you have been using for years cannot even be employed by other businesses quickly without real system changes. You have a strategic advantage that gives you a window of time to position yourself in the market while the rest of the world plays catch up.

But a simple shift like this is a change of gears. It allows you to move even faster. And with this speed you move further ahead at even faster rates. And with each new shift will eventually come a plateau that will leave you thinking about the next gear change. It cycles as do all stages of business.

Natural Ebb and Flow

Embrace this natural ebb and flow. Understand just how much your foot is on the pedal. Never get complacent but just like the natural law of life that was best described by the great Jim Rohn who said, 

“If you rest too long, the weeds will overtake the garden”.

 Changing gears is a choice. Changing gears can be more than just pushing harder, it can be a strategic shift. A strategic gear shift can do more than simply pushing the pedal down harder or driving for longer. If you can find a way to create a strategic shift that invigorates your people, people will automatically push a little harder under the natural excitement of growth, innovation and positive change.

Einstein knew it. Sometimes there just is a better way. But you won’t arrive at top gear results will first gear thinking.

Let me know your “Strategic Shift” and how it worked – would love to hear your examples.

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