Regional New Job Creation and Growth via SME Success

  This is the first in a series of blogs looking at SMEs and the associated opportunities for regional new job creation and growth. It draws on experience in working with Federal and State agencies, regional bodies, and hundreds of regional SMEs Situation As a...

Investing in Your Company’s Development

You know your company has growth potential but you’re not sure how to best make this happen. Your instincts may well be to ramp up your sales and marketing – after all more sales gives growth. Here’s another way of thinking about this.  Our diagram opposite shows the...

The Analytical CEO – the Blocked or Negative Growth Transformation Case

Company transformation is a recent buzz phrase.  What does it mean?  What’s involved? Transformation, in our terms, means taking your company to a safer place and one where the company is more capable of sustainable growth.  Which implies you need to find out: Where...

The Analytical CEO – The Future

The future is hard.  It’s all out there but we’re not quite sure what it’s going to be.  If you’re an optimism you know it’ll be better than the past; if you’re a pessimist you know it will be worse; if you’re a realist you know it will be different. Good companies...

Refreshing the Business with a Spring-time Review

One of the great sights of spring-time travel in Greece is villagers lovingly whitewashing their houses.  White and gleaming, the houses become ready for whatever the year will bring. Businesses are the same.  There’s a need to refresh what you’re doing by having a...

Learn Quickly or Fail

Feb 26, 2014 | 0 comments

One of the great things about the Australian Regular Army, my first regular job, was its relentless focus on learning.  In my case I did four years at the Royal Military College, six months learning to be an Engineer Officer, and rounds of qualifying courses for promotion.

This was not static learning.  The Army was quick to learn the necessary lessons from current or recent operations.  These were shortly applied formally, but first from the presence, throughout the structure, of people just back from Borneo and then just back from Vietnam.  Unconsciously, they became organisational mentors and change agents.  Recent oral history and personal behaviour were powerful influences.

Mind you, some lessons had to be relearned.  In my day, while the fighting arms were pretty current, the logistics side struggled initially from lack of recent real-time experience.  The logistics deployment into Vietnam was initially a mess.  But it very quickly improved.  And worked well from there.

Now SMEs are much smaller than the Australian Army and consequently much, much more nimble.  But the same needs apply.  You must learn quickly, or fail.

If you don’t, a changing environment and poor internal performance will get you.

Which brings us to the role of the CEO (who usually has the most to lose from failure, as well).

The CEO has to combine those functions the Army has of instruction, coaching and mentoring.  In small organisations, the differences between these blur.  But consider:

Instruction – the need to teach your organisation how to learn.  This is best done by example and doing – not through abstractions and certainly not from business book written for managers in billion dollar US business units;

Coaching – helping the company team (including the wider team) focus on what needs to be learned;

Mentoring – helping the company team successfully apply and then review the lessons learned.

To do this requires a strategic view of the world.  What do you need to improve now; what changes can you anticipate and prepare for?

This is one of the biggest challenges facing the CEO.