A Lesson in Strategy Execution from a Successful Business Owner

When I, or other consultants, talk about situations faced by business owners, I’m sure people think, “Yeah, how A lesson in strategy executionwould he know?”

Or they see it as a self-serving pitch. “He has a solution, now he’s inventing a problem to fit it”.

So it’s always great to see an actual business owner talk about their experiences with a problem I’ve identified. It’s even better when they have a well-established reputation – like Jason Fried of 37signals.

A few weeks ago, I talked about the single biggest thing that determined whether or not a company would grow. My opinion, after 16 years working with business owners, is that it’s the owners’ understanding that they have to change and their willingness to do so.

Fried describes Basecamp, their most popular product, as being “critical to our success”. For years, he felt he was the only one who could manage it.

Now he’s handed over day-to-day control of Basecamp to an employee.

Why? Fried gives 2 reasons.

1.  A different kind of leader

First, he’s realized that 37signals’ “continued growth depends on me becoming a different kind of leader – one who is able to see when other people can do a job better than I can”.

How difficult a change is that for an entrepreneur to make? Fried describes letting go as “one of the hardest decisions a business owner ever makes”. I would agree.

So how much risk is involved in letting go? I’ve said many times that there’s a difference between delegating and abdicating.

Fried seems to get that. He’s chosen to take a big leap, but he’s delegating to a long-term employee who has demonstrated initiative, good judgment, reliability and high standards of quality.

And, while the long-term employee will make the final call, Fried will remain in the loop and involved.

2.  Avoiding complacency

The second reason is that Fried realized that he has to make “dozens of decisions, some big, some small about 37signals” every day. And Basecamp is successful, “at the top of its game”.

That combination of being involved in many things and having a major, long running success can lead business owners to take their eye off the ball.

Their time is fully occupied and so it’s easy to become distracted, complacent even, and let the product coast along.

And that’s a recipe for long-term problems.

Fried realized that someone has to be thinking about the company’s premier product 24 hours a day. And, because of his workload, he can no longer do it.

There’s no doubt in my mind that with Fried at the helm, 37signals will continue to grow.

And I’m glad – because we use Basecamp to help clients stay on track when executing their strategies and plans. Turning their wishes and desires into results.

You can read Fried’s article here.


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Tags: avoiding complacency, business owners, change, continued growth, delegating, execution, Jim Stewart, Leadership, Planning, plans, ProfitPATH, results, strategy, success

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