A company has a proven technology and satisfied customers. To achieve their goals, they need delivery on sales and service to ramp revenue. At the same time, new opportunities arise daily. How do you keep the team focused on execution and delivery?
Notes from a conversation with Doug Merritt, President & CEO, Baynote
The first thing to focus on is focus itself. Most of us don’t suffer from lack of opportunities, but from an inability to make hard choices and diligently pursue the few critical or high pay-off options. To be able to tell the difference between the gold nuggets and the distracting bright shiny objects, you have to have a clear strategy and a clear set of priorities as to which customers and channels you want to develop. When someone brings in the wrong customer or the wrong distribution partner you must be able to say no, no matter how alluring the immediate cash or revenue may be. It is critical to choose the right opportunities that will optimize achievement of the strategic plan. This must be constantly reaffirmed through a simple set of metrics around your optimal customer set, revenue ramp, and quality of services delivered.
The second thing is attracting the right talent. As a very small and rapidly growing company there’s usually much less time and resources to effectively train fresh talent. If scale is the issue, then it’s important to identify and attract experienced individuals – those who have proven their ability to deliver. And, who are able to bring along a high quality, proven, loyal following. Top talent that knows how to open the purse strings of your target customers. This means hiring rock stars who can do this better than you can! The challenge for the CEO is getting comfortable with the limitations of your own skills. It means remembering that success almost always comes from hiring people who can do their jobs much better than you ever could. It means letting go of your own ego. The CEO’s unique talent isn’t being the smartest person in the room – it’s your ability to build and guide an organization that will achieve more than you can alone.
Third is to keep the team focused on the most important priorities. The CEO needs to be good at generating a crisp vision and gathering and distributing information that maintains focus on that vision. Most “Type A” overachievers want to do lots of things well. The key is to focus on doing the right things well. You do this by measuring, and creating transparency around the few key levers that drive the strategy and direction of the company. It can really help your cause to say no to a very visible and enticing “bright shiny object” that in the past, the team would have reluctantly accepted. Finally, it also helps to create a few very large and non-negotiable milestones that get the company to focus, as a unit, on achievement. Ultimately, I think the CEO needs to be in the position to coach and guide their team to do the right things right.