Mark B. Jacobs has spent 30 years in executive leadership successfully guiding major growth initiatives – many starting as turnaround efforts. He has led re-capitalizations, start-ups, and key organizational change agendas that have scaled company growth and performance. He co-authored the SmartScale process which is built on his years of hands-on experience and expertise in Lean Manufacturing, Quality Systems, Sales & Operations Planning, Category Design & Development, Leadership Development, and Technology-Driven transformations.
When it Comes to Scaling Your Mid-Life Company: Change Your Perspective and the Reality Changes
In this article you will:
- Be reminded how your perception of your customers, company, and opportunities (your Mental Model) may be keeping you from achieving scale, and
- Be introduced to an approach to help you broaden your perspective (and change your Mental Model).
1. How your perception may be keeping you from achieving scale
Mental Models and Perception
Our perceptions (Mental Models) steer our interpretation of reality by:
- Tightening our focus,
- Influencing how we process experiences,
- Filtering the information we synthesize,
- Triggering emotions,
- Choosing and integrating what we remember,
- Forming our point of view, and
- Ultimately driving how we act – and what we act on.
How you perceive reality is your Mental Model… and Mental Models are how we come to our personal reality.
The Problem For Mid-Life Companies That Want To Scale
The first problem for most mid-life company executives is that their perspective – and therefore their Mental Model – is shaped by the successes they’ve experienced and the struggles that they have overcome – as well as the way that they succeeded and overcame struggles. Here’s an example: “I grew the business through personal relationships – and therefore the continued growth must be predicated on building more personal relationships.” A great tactical approach starting – but not scaling a business.
The second problem is that the mid-life company leader’s Mental Model has defined the business model and culture of the organization. Here are some examples:
Professional firms that sell hours – and have a billable hours mentality
- A technology firm that sells a solution – and have a features and benefits mindset
- A transportation firm that sells miles – and have an efficiency mindset
- A Not-for-profit that sells memberships – and gets focused on membership retention versus lifetime membership value
All can be successful growth firms – until the status quo changes because customers begin seeing the product or service as a commodity. Then it’s a race to the bottom as prices and margins get squeezed. (Its impossible to achieve scale while you’re in a race to the bottom.)
2. Broaden Your Perspective – and Change Your Mental Model
To move from growth to scale involves a fundamental shift in the Mid-life Company Mental Model…which is accomplished through a series of AhHa moments (Epiphanies) that unlock new perspectives.
Engaging in a process that is challenging, involves radical ideation, collaboration, provocation, and structured exercises demands that leaders consider fundamentally different perspectives – many of which will impact their Mental Model - and in turn, their business model. The goal is to encourage exploration, self-reflection, debate and fundamentally switch leadership mindsets, and thinking.
We strive for each of our partners/customers to imagine a better version of themselves and open themselves to radical new ideas so that epiphanies come shining through to every leader in the organization. We go all-out to ensure that our partners are not stuck within their own confirmation biases—walled-in to backward-looking, inside-out thinking that leads to complacency or, worse, vulnerability.
We achieve this through our SmartScaleTM protocol. SmartScaling is built on a simple yet massively transformative exercise where we:
- Clearly define what your target customers want. (One of our beliefs is that a mistake many firms make is defining their customer imprecisely.)
- Think deeply about how the unimpeded forces of disruption could feed on customer wants to destroy your current organization
- Generate a wider set of options (epiphanies) to rebuild your future-capable organization and its business model.
Our research, years of successful implementation and ongoing fieldwork have persuaded us that only after you have launched a disruptive attack on your own organization can you really understand how to defend it, fortify the core business, and generate that wider set of strategic initiatives that will propel the organization forward to a SmartScaleTM
What Are Some Mental Model Changes We’ve Seen?
Mental Model changes occur at three levels – Strategic, Operational, and Personal. The recurring themes we see are:
These changes reform the participants’ Mental Models so that they can:
- Not so much see what no one has yet seen; but instead,
- They can think what nobody has yet thought, about that which everybody sees…
- and find a path to scale their business1.
Collaborate with us and see where it takes your business