Deciding on the Direction for your Company

Companies that remain static and don’t evolve will eventually lose their profit margins and sink into oblivion. At Setpoint, as we try and adapt to the changing landscape I have noticed several things in dealing with deciding our company’s direction.

First, change is hard. It is much easier to continue doing what has been done in the past, even if it is not getting the results it used to, and rarely have I seen an idea that just works right out of the gate.

You can’t do everything, and if you try to, it will result in spreading your resources (money, time, people) so thin that you cannot be successful at anything. One of the hardest things is, deciding what not to do. It is difficult because you tend think that you are potentially leaving money on the table, and you may be – but you are doing it to pursue a better idea with more potential.

We have found that some feel more passionately about an idea than others, so we have developed a rule that is simply “whoever has passion about an idea gets less than 50% of the vote”. This helps us make more objective decisions. Key message is, don’t be so in love with a strategy or idea that you can’t dispose of it when all the facts point that way.

You never have perfect information before a decision needs to be made. As a result, assumptions are made in order to make progress. The problem is, unless those assumptions are tracked and noted they tend to become facts over time, and often those assumptions are wrong. You have to revisit assumptions to validate, modify, or eliminate them to reflect new information you now have. Not doing so can lead to less than desirable outcomes.

At Setpoint we try and follow the philosophy of “fail faster”. In other words, if something is not going to work the sooner you identify it the cheaper it is for the company in terms of money, time, and people. Most ideas can be validated or eliminated without much cost or time if the key issues have been correctly identified. The few key remaining ideas can then claim your valuable resources.

The shorter iteration cycles the better; the clearer the objectives, the easier it will be to identify the key issues that need to be proved out in order to validate the direction.

These are some of the techniques we are using at Setpoint to decide our companies direction.

This process is an ongoing part of a healthy company’s life. So get on with it.

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