I read a post about how personality assessments create boxes around people. The test or assessment says “I am this or that”—and therefore I must conform to it. Whether months or years later, people continue to identify in whatever way the assessment told them to.
The writer, Mark J. Silverman, made the point that any assessment should be viewed as a snapshot—one day, one type—and never like a long form video that keeps you stuck.
The same is true for companies. Your company has beliefs and attitudes, and these inform your decisions and behaviors. But as external and internal factors change, your company needs to reassess, sometime quite often, if it is to remain relevant.
When I hear statements like these, I know it’s time for a reassessment:
- “We always do it this way.”
- “That’s one of our best practices.”
- “We have policies and procedures for that.”
There is tremendous resistance to reassessing, and even more so to accepting the value of outside advice.
I’ve come to understand that the resistance is due to tension—the tension between what’s comfortable and what has been working versus a feeling that breaking out of the walls of the box is risky and fraught with danger.
Most business owners took great risks and faced much danger in the early years of founding their firms. After 3, 5, or 10 years, the big risks have receded, and the danger seems to have been averted. Why take new risks and face danger again?
That’s why firms embrace their snapshot. They get boxed into their box.
I’ve often advised companies to think inside the box—meaning to build on their strengths, such as great clients, successful products and services, and their people. This advice is in contrast to think outside the box, which is non-contextual brainstorming, or throwing ideas up on the wall to see what sticks.
Not getting boxed in means using all the assets you have built and reassessing how you USE them.
How to USE Your Assets
- Customers and clients
Being boxed in, living by the snapshot, means continuing to think of them as unchanging, the same as when they first bought from you. It means not being curious about what new needs, wants and desires they might have. It means relying on old marketing tactics in spite of a changing environment.
Breaking the boundaries of the box means studying your clients once a year; what is the same and what has changed? It means talking to them one-to-one and inviting them to tell you what else they might need, want, or desire from your firm. This feels scary to too many companies! Yet, for services firms, it’s the best way to develop new offerings that have built-in buyers.
- Product and Services Offered
Being boxed in means your firm doesn’t add or subtract new offerings. You might sell few of one thing or another, so you’re afraid to drop it. You might worry about how well something new will do, so you avoid it.
Breaking the boundaries of the box means both adding and subtracting. A rule of thumb that contributes to increasing revenue and profit is to assess your full array of offerings once a year. (The GO CURVE is a great tool for this.) Run a sales report that shows both revenue and numbers sold. Which ones are too low given your upcoming goals? Drop them. Invite buyers to buy something else. More valuable is to develop new offerings at the higher end to increase revenue and profit. This is where you use the knowledge you’ve gained from talking to your buyers.
- Operations and Finance
Being boxed in means you stick with your operations and finance practices year after year. You never look closely at how internal and external factors may have impacted these practices.
Breaking the boundaries of the box means taking a good, hard look. Does our cash flow management need a refresh? Are we focusing too much or too little on tax implications of our various decisions? How are we tracking customers and clients? Are we staffed for the future rather than the past? How can we ensure the best customer service?
Are You Thinking You May be Boxed In?
If you have a sneaking suspicion that you’re boxed in, take time to self-assess. Use our LADRSM and GO CURVE to help you see where you’re living yesterday’s snapshot. Break a couple of boundaries to get out of the box. Doing one or two things at a time will make a difference.
If you’d prefer some guidance, we will help you use these tools and understand where you’re boxed in. Then we can work with you to design a plan for breaking some of the boundaries.
Don’t let your box keep you boxed in. Break some boundaries and enjoy new revenue and profit.
Text BOX to 703-801-0345 to start a conversation.