Several years ago Harvard Business Review published an article about the contemporary sales process. In it, they identified that many people ask their customers, “What’s keeping you up at night?” The better question they identified was “What should be keeping you up at night?” In other words, in business, the things you don’t know about can be much more impactful, and frankly scarier, than what you do know about. Just ask the CEO of Equifax and he can probably tell you all about it as he deals with a security breach that was massive recently that affected about 143 million people that trusted their company.
Today’s technology is now powering so many parts of business processes. From simple things like sending emails and processing invoices and payments to sophisticated computer-operated manufacturing processes. Whether an owner or leader wants to be or not, leaders are all in the business of technology. Without it, your organization will lose its ability to compete or remain relevant to whomever you are serving.
For that reason, it was the right time for us to bring aboard someone like Richard Hammer. Known as an expert in how to build an organization that can compete in tomorrow’s technological marketplace, Richard understands how culture eats strategy for breakfast. His genius, when it comes to technology, is his experience and in-depth knowledge that technology tools are worthless without the consideration of who will be using them and how they will be used for a successful business outcome.
I have already learned a great deal from him in the short time he has been with Cortex, meeting with our team, and some of our clients. Here are a few of my take-a-ways as a business owner.
- People, processes, and tools. In that order. So many times, when it comes to technology, leaders search for a tool without considering the people and processes that will be leveraging that tool.
- Make data-informed decisions. Many times, you will hear the importance of making data-driven decisions. The problems with letting the data drive is that data doesn’t have the experience and perspective that a leader or their team might have that can affect what the data is saying. Using data to inform you can be an essential and powerful part of effective decision-making.
- Think bigger. Technology scares a lot of leaders. The subsequent reaction to technology is to ignore it, argue with the need for it, make quick decisions around it, or simply agree with people that understand technology slightly better than you do and do whatever “sounds” good at the time. The leader’s job is to set the vision. When you are stuck in Quadrant One (urgent and important – immediate task driven) all the time, you lose the ability to look far enough ahead to properly anticipate what isn’t going to change about your business and what is. Thinking too small in today’s marketplace can leave you vulnerable to being taken out by leaders that didn’t.
What should be keeping you up at night? You’ll need to answer that. For me, it was all the things I didn’t know about technology that could quickly build our business and that I didn’t even know to ask about. I’m sleeping much better these days.