Igniting Growth – Consider a Regular Paranoia Analysis

by: Mike Pascoe

I’ve been spoiled over the years (and in particular the last couple of years) working directly with a number of CEO’s of varying successes and challenges, in a variety of different technology areas. As a CEO support and advisor, I’m there to help a CEO but I typically find myself learning a lot from them as well.

In an attempt to capture and share some of the wisdom I’ve gained over my 30 years in CEO/President positions and pass on the knowledge gained from the CEOs I’ve worked with, I’ve written a series of blog posts on the subject of Igniting Growth. My attempt here to is provide simple, easy-to-implement insights/ideas that I’ve had the privilege to see working in various organizations.

The reality is if you, as CEO, are not urgently planning and then executing to drive Growth greater than the markets you are in, you need to start. Time is never on your side. You need to pull the kindling together and light that spark…Now!

With the subjects in no particular order, this is the first post in the series. These are short, easy to read and I expect, have a few ideas you may not have considered.

Idea 1: Consider a Regular Paranoia Analysis

At a recent weekly management meeting of a fast growing SMB in the Kanata technology space, I was reminded of the importance of a regular paranoia analysis. At the meeting, all the numbers being reported said the revenue performance half way through the year (against very aggressive growth goals for the year) was largely on track. It even contained identified prospects to take the revenues over the top. It was all good news, until the CEO rained on the parade (or so I thought).

I am a glass half full guy and frankly could only see the positives in the numbers, but this CEO pushed back. The CEO talked about a recent competitive product that significantly undercut the market pricing and questioned a number of areas in a manner that made the team reflect not in the bask of sunlight, but in the spectre of stormy weather ahead.

I loved it!  We agreed to pull together key participants to delve into the areas where we ‘might be’ exposed with the intention to take early actions to upend these areas. To do a paranoia analysis!

The intent here was to have a regular (quarterly?) ‘paranoia session’ on what can go wrong with our current direction? To really explore the Threat part of the SWOT analysis. Lost business is a good area to start, followed by an honest assessment of our current market position and an examination of the competitor’s actions.

Often those closest to the company fail to see the forest…but as an outsider, my forest view allows me to push back on the assumptions and add my own experience and common sense to the discussions. These discussions should be engaging, but more importantly, should ensure the great growth trajectory the organization is on today, continues for several years!

On a related note, I suspect many of you recall Andy Grove’s book ‘Only the Paranoid Survive’ – but what you may not know was that when he wrote this, Intel was growing at a phenomenal rate. It’s a great follow on read to my short blog post.

Up Next on Igniting Growth: How a Return Map can help track and improve your efforts to innovate.

I’m genuinely interested in your questions and thoughts, so please feel free to comment or contact me, Mike Pascoe, with your insights: Mike.pascoe@stratfordmanagers.com.

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