Growth Strategy

Growth Strategy and Achievement (LIVE)

Facing uncertainty can be challenging – being a business owner facing uncertainty is tougher.

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Starting the conversation…

What are key indicators that we are off track toward achieving growth objectives?

Host: Jess Dewell
Guest: Chuck Blakeman

What You Will Hear:

A team of people TOGETHER could actually design different (dare say better)…everything!

We quit the wrong thing.

The 4th  building block of a business: get an outside set of eyes.

We know less thank we think we do.

3.1 business plan includes strategy.

Leaders have vision and know what things look like when they get there.

3 ways to start going forward.

People have an inherent need for certainty.

2 questions to memorize to be more productive – immediately.

What makes us adult?

#VBBRadio: I agree with more money for less time, but I’m conflicted – I’m not in a position to make that transition, especially in this economy. How to Get Unstuck?

You can’t afford NOT to do it.

People want to make decisions for themselves.

80-90% of people owned their own business before factories came along.

Distributed decision making gives people that are impacted by the decision the ability to make the decision.

Ask someone to take on the idea. Ask them questions, let them build.

Live Audience Question: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Isn’t it true most garden variety businesses will do just fine with the status quo, without the risk and change required of your model?

Functional titles serve the mission.

2 step decision-making.

Audience Question: I want to hear more about decision making and company culture, and how to make that shift from so-called company culture to genuine one?

What makes it BOLD to be disciplined to share the decision-making process for achieving growth?

Notable and Quotable:


Chuck Blakeman 2:39
Resumes are just obituaries. They tell what people used to do, and there’s usually a little bit of fluff.

Chuck Blakeman 3:42
There’s three influences and the way they make decisions. One is complexity. The world is complex and getting more complex. The second one is change. Things are changing and getting more complex. And the third one is Human need for certainty. And that one is the one we tend to make all the decisions. We solve for certainty, when you should be solving for complexity and change. That’s at the root of most business problems. And that’s the rut.

Chuck Blakeman 4:08
Seth Godin wrote a great little book called “The Dip.” And “The Dip” basically says — like the Einstein theory of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. And then he challenged the idea that quitters never win, and winners never quit. His response was “no, winners quit all the time. It’s quitters that have a problem quitting, they don’t quit often enough. And then when they quit, they quit the whole darn thing.” So it’s like I tried real estate, and instead of trying different things in real estate, I just keep banging my head against the wall doing the same thing that doesn’t work. And then I quit real estate. I say, “Well, real estate doesn’t work.” So that’s the rut mentality, and we all have it.

Chuck Blakeman 4:51
Every problem I had in life is related to one simple thing. I make decisions based in the short term versus the long term. If I’m making decisions based on the long turn, where do you think they’ll be next year? If I’m making decisions based on the short term where you think they’ll be next year? It’s that RUT? You got IT.

Jess Dewell 5:12
The companies that I go into, the companies that call me up and say, we’re stuck. Well, they’re trying to solve for the long term and don’t know how to do right now. Or the other way around. We’re only interested in the short term. And they don’t recognize that they may be creating a path that they don’t want to be in as short as a year but as many as five or seven years down the road. Even if that means ending.

Chuck Blakeman 5:43
Most companies are trying to make money today, and not figuring out where is it taking me. They’re not tieing today to what’s happening tomorrow. That’s a challenge.

Chuck Blakeman 6:46
I founded that a building block was a need for what we call “outside eyes.” Outside eyes. It’s just like, I got no dog in the hunt here, so I have a different view of what’s going on. And I can look at this without all the politics, and all the judgment, and all the history, and all the nonsense that goes on in the emotions. My baby. That to me is one of the major ways that we help people identify these things, is give somebody who has no dog in the hunt, whether it’s a friend, or someone who’s done this as a living. I walk in and said, ” Uhhhh, I’ve seen this before, but you don’t even know you have this. Now you’ve got the measles and you don’t know what they look like.”

Chuck Blakeman 8:12
I’m a recovering John Wayne rugged individualists. I printed a business card and I got this. How’s business? Business is great. I’m dying inside. I’m waking up in cold sweats, but no businesses is great. I’m not taking any outside eyes. But it took me a long time to figure out that I knew a lot less than I thought I did. If you’re young out there, and you’re learning this for the first time, get over it faster than I did.

Chuck Blakeman 9:29
Because you have a flight plan, you know clearly where you want to end up, then you’re constantly checking yourself across the path. We call that the 2.1 planning strategy. Most of businesses built on 3.0 planning strategy. Where am I? Where do I want to end up? And then three is, how do I get all the way from one to two. Also Voodoo and fortune-telling. That’s what we call a business plan. And they don’t make sense, You cannot dictate where you are now, where you want to be three years from now,. Actually put together a plan how you going to get there three years ago, You don’t get number three. That’s what we call the “giant how.” What you get is 2.1. Where am I? That’s one. Where do you want to end up? That’s two and then 2.1. What do I do in the next month to get to two?

Chuck Blakeman 10:13
What do I do now in the next two weeks to a month to get all the way to three years from now? And then I do that, and then I got a new one. Okay, I’m a month out. Do I like where I’m at? Where do I want to end up now? What do I do for another month? We call that “a 1000 little hows.” And that’s how you do a flight plan.

Chuck Blakeman 10:31
If you’re a sailor, you actually start by figuring out where you want to end up, and then you work your way backwards. You’re taking soundings or you’re taking measurements the whole way out.

Chuck Blakeman 11:15
Nobody has a good plan. Bill Hewitt stopped getting invited to MBA courses because he said, “We didn’t have a business plan. We made this up as we went along.” But then he didn’t know something. He did say ” I knew what it looked like when we were done.” Bill Watson who built IBM said that, “I didn’t know how to get there, but I knew exactly where we want to end up.” That’s strategic planning.

Chuck Blakeman 11:38
Business planning is, how do we get all the way from one to two? Strategic planning is, what do I do over the next month to get to two? And then what I would do again to get to two? So I’m always thinking about how to use the present to build tomorrow.

Chuck Blakeman 11:54
Every plan is a bad plan. I got that from this World War One German general who said after the war, “No battle plan survives its first encounter with the enemy.”

Chuck Blakeman 12:04
A famous boxer said, “You have a really great plan until you get hit.”


Jess Dewell 12:43
If I’m going to put time into a plan that I know will be obsolete as soon as I start, I still know where I was going to end, because that doesn’t change. And anywhere in between, I have done the research. I have done the work. I have done the thinking. I have gathered the people, so that as soon as I hit that first bump. As soon as those things change, we get to work through it. We’re not recoiling. We’re not readjusting. We have all the right pieces, and we get to use them differently.

Jess Dewell 13:14
I have this phrase that I use called, “Act to Plan.” How do you act? How do you integrate? How do you act? How do you integrat? And whether you start from a plan so you’re prepared, or you just jump and fly by the seat of your pants depending on your work style, you’re still acting and incorporating. Acting and incorporating to decide what is that next action to take with whatever thought processes and resources that have been gathered and somewhat allocated to be able to be adaptable and flexible as you go forward.

Chuck Blakeman 13:49
There’s three ways to take a boat out of the harbor where no one has ever been out of the harbor. There’s the cognitive way, the emotional way and the intuitive way. The emotional way is, well there’s the entrance. Let’s just head toward that and hope for the best. Nice. It’s a sunny day and let’s just go as fast as we can towards the entrance. You will find one sandbar — the one you crash on. Then there’s the cognitive approach. Hey, there’s sandbars out there. So let’s sit on the dock and possibly theorize and check the wind and the currents and draw map and we’ll sit on this dock for weeks and we’ll never find a sandbar and will never move because we’re too afraid we might do this wrong. And we’re perfecting a plan that will never come to fruition. The right way to do is the way Einstein talked about. Einstein said that “intuition is the highest form of human intelligence.” It combines the emotional, the mental, and the physical. Think, feel, do becomes the intuitive. And the intuitive responses says, “Okay, there are sandbars out there. There’s danger out there. So it’d be stupid just to race 40 knots ahead straight at the entrance. Let’s immediately leave the dock. Let’s get whatever little information we can about the currents in the wind, and let’s get out there. And as soon as we’re ready moving, take soundings. So you’re using the rational — that’s the taking the soundings — and if the water is getting shallower, then fear sets in. That’s the emotion which is healthy. And you say, holy crap, if we keep going this direction, we’re going to run into a sandbar. Now what do we do? I don’t know. I really don’t know. We use the intuitive and go left or right. And if you were wrong, the soundings will tell you. So you use all three: Think Feel Do. Think Feel Do. And you get out of the hardware without ever hitting the sandbar, but you’re moving and you get it going. So that’s, to me good planning.

Chuck Blakeman 15:38
People think I’m against planning. Not at all. We’re manic about planning. But it’s planning in the real world.

Unknown Speaker 19:01
The business owners game has one objective, how do we make more money in less time. The Industrial Age taught us how to make more money is to spend more time at work, you run out of 168 hours. It doesn’t work. Warren Buffett does not suffer from this disease. Neither does Richard Branson or lots of others. If you’re out to make more money in less time, then how do I do that? There’s two questions. Is what I’m doing right now, the highest and best use of my time? Question number two is, if this is not the highest and best use of my time, then how do I do this for the last time? If you’re manic about getting the answer, and how do I do for the last time, you’ll come up with a process, a person, a machine, just stop doing it? It’s not relevant. There’s multiple ways to figure out how to get yourself doing things that are the highest and best use of your time. And we do that by distributing decision-making. But first I have to believe other people are smart and motivated, that’s hard. So that’s the core practice.

Chuck Blakeman 21:32
The core thing that makes us adult, more than anything, else is the ability and the responsibility to make decisions.

Chuck Blakeman 21:54
What do we do to people at work? We take their ability to make decisions away. That is the core issue in all business is that as soon as I cross the threshold at work, somehow I’ve lost my brain. I can buy a house, I can get married, I can decide career paths. I can do all sorts of incredible decision-making, but I don’t as a rock when I get to work because somebody above me thinks I don’t have a brain.

Chuck Blakeman 22:25
Engagement is not a process. It’s a result. If you allow and require decisions to be made locally by distributed decision-making teams, you will have 100% engagement

Chuck Blakeman 28:55
Here’s an incredible statistic, when it comes to this idea of people being self manage. Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of all free people throughout the history of the world owned their own business into invented factories. And now it’s 15%. It has absolutely flipped. Back then, if you didn’t own your own business, people thought, “Well, why don’t you own your business? That’s weird.” Now when you own your own your business people look at you and say, “Why do you own your own business? That’s weird.” It’s not that you need to own your own business. The point is, we love being in control of our destiny, and making decisions is an adult thing. That is the magic to distributed decision-making.

Chuck Blakeman 29:55
The principle is simple. The more input I have in a decision the more ownership I have in the decision. So here’s the mantra: “input equals ownership.”

Chuck Blakeman 30:24
Everybody mistakes culture for “Fridays I get to do whatever I want. We can wear blue jeans, free lunches, work from home.’ These are perks. This is not culture. Culture is, “Do I get to make decisions, or not make decisions.”

Jess Dewell 30:59
First is recognizing every business is a technology business. But secondly, most small businesses unless they’re technology or software or something like that, they don’t need technology people or developers all of the time. It’s like a Lego set. Everybody’s a particular Lego and you know where you fit and you may move around. But I don’t want that as a small business owner. I want somebody who can be 10 Legos at a time. I want somebody who can come in and actually helped me think on the business side and be able to translate it to the logical side.

Jess Dewell 31:54
When you get into bigger businesses, what do we have? We have sandbox and we have silos

Chuck Blakeman 31:58
You got to get people totally engaged, and the way we do that it’s not by running an engagement program or sticking stupid motivational sayings on the walls. It’s by actually giving them a brains back and saying, “What do you think we should do?”

Jess Dewell 34:54
Provided we have the courage to think differently and give somebody the opportunity to step up, we will be surprised.

Chuck Blakeman 35:55
We make people stupid and lazy, or we allow them to be their smart and motivated selves. We get to choose.

Chuck Blakeman 36:29
We think of innovations being, what’s the next great widget? But here’s what 125 years worth of research on productivity says. If you’re nice to people and you treat them like an adult, you make more money.

Chuck Blakeman 36:43
We’re innovating in every way but trying to figure out how do we bring humanity back into work? How do we humanize the workplace by giving everybody their brand back?

Chuck Blakeman 38:38
It’s staggering stuff. John Kotter did a 10-year study on companies that show things like profitability. When they switch from being production-oriented to people-oriented, profitability went up on average 756% over 10 years for those companies.

Jess Dewell 40:26
One in 100 businesses will make it to 10 years

Jess Dewell 40:30
When we don’t allow people to use their own brains. When we don’t let people have a say, we’re limited to what we know, and what we don’t know. And that’s a control issue.

Chuck Blakeman 42:00
We all know what it takes to start a business. I call it Fred Flintstoning. You just pedal like crazy and nothing’s happening. You can put your feet in at some point, but every time you start a business, the inertia to get that started. You really want to do this over and over.

Chuck Blakeman 47:44
Managers are people who treat people like children, and leaders are people who give adults vision. So we need lots of leaders, but we don’t need managers.

Chuck Blakeman 49:22
We’re not shooting for perfect. We’re shooting for better.

Chuck Blakeman 50:29
In the pyramid scheme, only the guys at the top are capitalist, and the rest of us are being used. Which is why we think we hate capitalism. We actually hate industrialism.

Chuck Blakeman 51:02
The tectonic shift from the factory system pyramid scheme is, from time-based bonus thing to results-based incentives.


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