CEO Coaching: Bite-Size Chunks

There’s a strong case for not going big, at least not often. Forgive me for the football analogy, but when it’s third and 25, the chances of completing a 26-yard pass against a defense set up to protect against this very thing are small. If there’s one minute left in the fourth quarter, you throw it long. If it’s in the middle of a balanced game, you go for better field position, with a high chance of success for positive yards (and a possible miracle).

It’s about the entire game, not one play.

When your back is against the wall, you may need to consider risky or dramatic moves. In business, this usually pertains to dwindling cash or a product line becoming rapidly irrelevant. Move fast, execute as well as you can, and say a prayer. (And then ask yourself how you got to this point!)

Swimmers don’t win races treading water, football teams don’t win without moving down the field, and businesses don’t continue to make money without innovating and improving. But it’s usually about bite-size chunks of progress, not Hail Mary passes. This means you have a clear strategy, financial objectives, operating plans, and a way to track progress against those objectives and plans. In other words, it means that you keep improving and moving!

Businesses that are unaware of creative destruction often end up in a desperate situation. Irrelevant products and services don’t sell well. Bite-size chunks of progress can help you avoid a risky and dramatic move. Continual progress is more efficient and easier to manage than periods of stasis followed by mad sprints toward an illusory objective to save the company.

Go for broke, shoot for the moon, risk it all if you must, but thoughtful, continual progress that supports your strategy is a saner way to operate.

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