My Three Cents

I had the honor recently of being interviewed on video by Bloomberg Breakaway, a group of CEOs and founders from a range of companies, who are passionate about growing their businesses by developing talent, innovating continuously, and disrupting industry. What it takes to breakaway from the pack is a complex topic to put one’s arms around, but I wanted to share some of the thoughts that came forth in my interview, based on reflections of my four decades of serving a wide swathe of companies, large and small.

In this week’s blog, I am addressing what I believe are the characteristics of companies that are truly “breakaway” in terms of their philosophy behind what they do and how they do it. Companies that fit this description often have the following traits:

  1. “MOONSHOT THINKERS.” These are firms that produce groundbreaking thinking where their objectives and expectations are merely exploratory, and there may be no near-term benefit or profitability as a result. There may not even be adequate investigation of risks involved. But, and here’s where they diverge, they seek an insight, idea or hope that may result in bringing them an advantage. To achieve it would require management to make shifts in structure or strategy to make it happen. At root these are companies that are always “thinking ahead,” challenging the present to secure the future, SpaceX along with its CEO Elon Musk, is an example of this philosophy.
  2. “TRENDS FOCUSED.” I define this group as organizations which are highly conscious of what is going on around them. They are aware of and considerate of how the following technologies might be applied to their organizations, if at all: Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, various forms of analytics, unique ways of gaining feedback from target audiences, design thinking and other trends. Snap for AR, and Google for VR, are a couple of examples.
  3. “PARTNERSHIPS THAT INFLUENCE DIRECTION.” These are companies seeking to form relationships with other organizations that will positively impact their future. For example, such combinations might enable the opening of a new market not thought of before. The potential Aetna-CVS joint venture might open up unmatched local presence and clinical capabilities for consumers beyond anything that exists today. It stands as a perfect example.
  4. “TRADITIONAL VALUES.”  Yes, establishing values which we measure ourselves by are and will always be critical to being a breakaway company. Remember, many of the old tenets still work. Having a roadmap to meet goals and the discipline to reach them are important guiding lights. Setting up an appropriate strategic plan with vision, mission, targets, staffing, infrastructure etc. so there is a proper foundation upon which to operate and grow.

    But be prepared to shift or tinker on a moment’s notice to capitalize on changing tides. Many successful young, mid-tier and Fortune 1000 companies meet carefully-crafted criteria.

  5. “DIFFERENTIATE YOUR FIRM FROM ITS COMPETITORS.” It is critical to do this, so your firm can stand out! This is Makovsky’s business, so we know it is important to do this for our clients as well as ourselves. Be cognizant of the role of reputation in attaining success and setting yourself apart. In today’s multi-media, digital world, you are missing opportunities to grow if you don’t toot your own horn.

Stay tuned next month when I will cover what makes a “breakaway CEO.”

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