I’m writing this on a Monday morning as I work my email to juggle a complicated week. Though I have delivered versions of my Outthinker Process program perhaps a few hundred times now and am supposed to be an expert, I realize I still need reminders. It’s so easy to lose the “strategic clarity” that comes out of the IDEAS process (Imagine, Dissect, Expand, Analyze, Sell).
You see, there are four types of initiatives you could be investing your energy in at any one time. If you get these right, you win. If you get them wrong, you spin your wheels and fall further and further behind.
To avoid the latter fate, it’s important to leverage the fourth step in our IDEAS process – Analyze – to sort through and select which initiatives your team will advance with. To do this, make a list of all the initiatives you are currently executing or considering. For each initiative, ask yourself two questions:
- If I successfully executed this initiative, what impact would it have on my ability to achieve my goals?
- How easy is it to execute this initiative?
This will give you four types of ideas:
- Wastes of time: Hard-to-execute ideas that would have little impact on your achieving your goals anyway. Dump these now and invest the energy you save into more productive activities.
- Tactics: Easy-to-execute ideas that will not significantly impact your success. Execute these if you want, but they are not important enough to be a strategic priority.
- Winning moves: Easy-to-execute ideas with huge impact. Execute those now!
- Crazy ideas: Difficult-to-execute ideas that, if you could figure out how to make them happen, would really make a difference. Most companies discard these “go to the moon” ideas. Outthinkers spend time figuring out how to make these feasible.
Last month I applied the Outthinker Process to my own business and divided my activities into these four categories.
Wastes of time
We had been busy delivering McKinsey-style consulting engagements. I realized that while I love doing this, it is not something I am good at. Instead, I will stop accepting consulting projects altogether or find a rock-star consultant with a passion to build that business. I also realized that it will take a great deal of effort to scale a traditional consulting business and my energy would be better directed elsewhere.
We had been doing a lot of one-off workshops. I love doing this and we can now charge a lot of money for it, but we have perfected the workshop enough that we can let that part of the business run itself. We have trained outstanding facilitators who I can now trust to run the workshop in my place.
My speaking business has become a winning move. My colleague, Zach, has studied the business model and implemented best practices. I’m speaking more and more and my fees are rising. I love it, it’s profitable, it has momentum, and I can have a big impact doing more of this. Your winning moves often become the cash cow that feeds the rest of the business.
I had four crazy ideas in mind that I had not been investing enough time in. First was to take the Outthinker Process, which I had trained perhaps 2,000 people in, and package it as a certification program, arming coaches and internal innovators with tools, knowledge, and a community to be “Outthinkers.”
The second crazy idea was to complete my PhD, a project I have been working on for four years now, but that has not been advancing quickly.
The third crazy idea was to launch a private equity fund that would find emerging Outthinkers, invest in them, and help them grow. The fund had become a dream that I did not know how to start.
The fourth was to build a membership business around the idea of Outthinker.
Working on four “crazy” ideas is too much. By spreading yourself too thin, you rob yourself of your ability to impact any of them. So, we have culled this list down.
I have completed my PhD. I took a crazy idea and saw it through. We can take that off the table.
The private equity idea is going to take a lot of knowledge we do not yet have. So, we are putting that on hold for the time-being.
That frees us up to focus on the two “crazy” ideas with the greatest near-term potential:
- Certification: We have prioritized our certification effort, identifying top business coaches and internal innovators, building a fast-ramp certification training, and establishing a set of support services for this community.
- Membership: The membership model is already taking off. We have numerous Chief Strategy Officers meeting every quarter and getting immense value out of sharing with each other and meeting thought-leaders we bring in. Now it’s time to pick that up off the backburner and put our effort toward moving it from “crazy” to “winning move”.
That is the power of reaching strategic clarity. You get what you want, if you are patient and focused on what is important. You wake up Monday morning, look through the upcoming week, and can immediately know what meetings and activities matter and be satisfied letting others drop to the side.
October 4th GROWTH LAB WEBINAR
On October 4 at Noon EDT, I will be teaching the Gazelle’s Growth Institute Business Growth Lab webinar.
Here’s what Mariano G. Dall’orso, Vice President at Western Union, had to say about Outthinker: “Kaihan’s groundbreaking work has captured the essence of corporate strategy in an insightful, memorable and pragmatic manner.”
What to expect from the webinar:
- 5 key steps every business has to take to outthink their competitors;
- Ways to create strategic narratives for a wide number of ideas to create meaningful actions within your organization;
- 8 actionable ideas on dissecting and solving company obstacles;
- Plus, a live Q&A with me to see how ExO strategies play a part in your business.
Learn how companies today are outthinking their competition to disrupt their industry — click here to learn more and register to join us on October 4.
Thank you and I hope to see you there!