Whether the CEO of a public company or an entrepreneur trying to commercialize an idea there are always barriers to success. The biggest barrier to success is often obvious to others but is often a blind spot to those that need to see it.
Barriers are something or someone that obstructs or impedes progress. So what are the obvious barriers that leaders fail to see?
Some friends of mine run a small digital development business employing roughly forty people in three different locations. The CEO and COO are extremely talented entrepreneurs with diverse backgrounds in technical and creative development. They’ve worked together for years and their business has grown but struggles with serious growing pains including:
- Most of their work is project based making cash flow difficult to predict
- Their business model and purpose are undefined so they end up trying to be everything to everybody
- The management philosophy is open and free-flowing with little defined structural definitions and measures in place on the driving forces that created the most sustainable value for them and their stakeholders
- They have many success stories but fail to tell those stories with relevant content distributed to target markets because of #2.
- The owners and employees work long hours. The organization is running on a treadmill in terms of building equity. Meaning lots of energy being spent with little advancement in building long-term equity.
The above five barriers are typical of small and medium-sized businesses who fail to see the obvious because they get consumed with the urgent and not important daily issues caused by all the barriers. More on that later…
Barriers of The BIG
Everyday we witness the failure of big companies because they failed to deal with the obvious over time. The stories play out in the media announcing the failure of one company after another then everyone analyzes the reasons for the failures. The reasons fall into the following obvious issues that perpetuated the failures:
- Inefficient business models: i.e. Airlines, Sears, Auto Makers etc.
- Lack of innovation: i.e. Blackberry, Nokia, Kodak, Yahoo etc.
- Failure to recognize disruption: i.e. Blockbuster, Barnes & Noble, Sony etc.
- Stuck in legacy thinking: Microsoft, Motorola, Sun Micro etc.
- Lack of Real Leadership: J.C. Penny, JP Morgan (#AskJPM), Banks etc.
Many watched the BIG unravel because of one or more of the five issues above yet one wonders why the leaders, shareholders and advisor’s didn’t see the obvious until it was too late.
Sometimes the obvious can be staring you in the face but barriers such as egos, distractions, and the constant stream of urgent matters can blind you to the obvious while everyone else watches and wonders what are they thinking.
In 30+ years of experience helping organizations see the obvious I have found that entrepreneurs are more willing to listen, understand and then act upon needed changes quickly than the BIG. The BIG have difficulty changing embedded mindsets, cultures that resist change and ego’s that won’t admit they missed the obvious or they need help fixing it.
On the other hand entrepreneurs usually know what they don’t know and are eager to learn what they need to know and quick to change directions if it means getting better faster.
Whether BIG or small everyone needs someone with credibility, experience and insight who can speak frankly and honestly to leadership before the obvious leads to disaster.
The reasons should be obvious unless of course you are too BIG to see and understand the obvious. Get it?