The P.A.

A weekly address from Patrick Adams,
President of St. Louis Community Credit Union

Focus! That’s My Buzzword.

On September 6th, 2016, posted in: Uncategorized by

lens focusThis blog is about running a business. I don’t care what business — big or small. It’s a tough duty. Your mind has to be keen, clear and forward-looking.    

At the very least, there are a number of concerns that should be on the list of “Important Stuff to Do.” There are no silver bullets (that’s the first thing business leaders figure out). Remember that most of the leadership team’s scarcest asset is their attention. There are a myriad of issues for sure. A big job is to keep everyone on the team focused.

First big idea: Irrelevancy will happen long before insolvency. Managing numbers is important — I get it. But a competitive advantage exists for those of us who are willing to look to the future versus the bottom line. You can gain advantage while the competition is managing today’s earnings. You should study the prospects of what it takes to foster future growth. The market is screaming for innovation and creativity.

Those entering the prime consumption period of their life aren’t looking for institutions, they’re looking for an “app.” HMMMMMMM????? If your time is being spent looking backwards and reflecting on last month’s earnings, the focus could be off. What lies in front of you is a marketplace changing at the speed of “Mach VI with your hair on fire.”

This blog isn’t as much about what your strategies should be, it’s about discussing what components should be considered in whatever strategic direction you embark upon. I call it “stress testing” your strategies. Strategies aren’t usually the problem among businesses. It’s the execution of said strategies that causes business leaders fits — large or small business, execution is elusive.

My hope is that you’re growing to some degree. Congrats! How do you stay on the growth curve? Do you know how you got there? Better yet, do you know how to stay there? What matters in growth is strategic differentiation, not strategic necessity.  Remember, your brand is “me too” without the benefit of differentiation. Companies die when they are commoditized as “me too.”

Focus!!! That’s my buzzword. Do you know where the fundamental change lies? Focus. Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth. Now what? Is your plan built on a foundation of sound strategic principles that ensures that the stress caused by the volatility of countless market subparts does not prevent execution? Certain tenets must appear in every strategic plan, whatever direction you take.

In the case of SLCCU, transformational leadership is what this is all about. Taking the mundane, ubiquitous nature of financial services and delivery from the commoditized world in which they reside to bringing real member value. The demands of the day’s “to do” list can force the leadership team to be way too transactional. We end up mucking and grinding all day long, working off of Post-It notes with “to-do” reminders. Creativity and innovation are crowded out by the demands of the day-to-day. Less doing and more thinking is what is needed. How does a business break the cycle and free up the leadership minds to speak to what’s needed around the corner?

Look, I’m not asking for us all to agree. Frederick Mayer of Goldwyn & Mayer fame said it best to his sycophant staff: “If we all agree on everything, there is no need for you.” I’m much more interested in the impartation of ideas that make business leaders take heed of different perspectives. Spirited debate among like-minded people is healthy. Going HMMMMMMM is a great exercise. That’s my hope.

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