When people ask me what I do, I used to say – I am a coach, consultant and advisor.
When people ask me what that means I tweaked it recently to ask a question, “Which do you need, a refresh? A reset? A reboot? Or a restart?”
It’s the 4 R’s you didn’t know you needed but everyone is in this phase.
Over the last two decades, I have actually had a lot of jobs that aren’t on my LinkedIn and aren’t specifically broken down on my resume so here are a few stories to help to frame reset, refresh, restart, reboot.
A Reset Story
When I worked as a Project Manager (in today’s world it would be a Product Manager releasing software) in finance I actually had to do a stint of work in commissions (in the finance team) when we were really struggling and my job in that period was to talk on the phone and over email with finance brokers on why their payments were late or missing.
It was at the brutal end of customer service. I learnt a lot in that period with mortgage brokers coming to the office to find out where sometimes 100k was missing from payment runs.
The owners didn’t know how to stop this business from going under in the middle of the major subprime mortgage crisis (2007 to 2010) but with a little hindsight, I believe we could have reset the business by removing more of the complexity of the processing department and helping our partners and brokers to remove numerous friction points and understanding how to reject applications more quickly.
Hindsight is a wonder thing, isn’t it?
A Refresh Story
In another job I had to shift the focus of the sales packages from one discipline we were known for (there were white and black hat associations) to broadening out the offering with a super talented internal department lead who had to package up solutions on the fly (sometimes in the morning of big pitches) with hardly any time as a bolt-on to bigger pitches to offer a better more holistic Marketing solution.
We built sales packages, built bespoke tools and hired an insanely talented person to come in and service clients, build reports and be the face of the new offering and we expanded that offering 4x that year.
It worked really well and diversified the business. The refresh helped the company refresh the offering when pitching and have a broader influence on the marketing teams of the companies we were working with and being introduced to.
A Reboot Story
There is something I don’t share often, I joined a company and for me, despite all of the interviews, great conversations smart people within the business and negotiations, it didn’t work out within a week.
This company had a top-tier product (this was why I reached out to them directly), had high loyalty and was a utility (for many it was essential to check before work) and it had powerful sets of data across the globe (it was not quite a moat but close enough to to be excited of what we should do).
Speaking to the founder and the leadership team I could see what was missing to kickstart the company’s new chapter and it was a reboot around brand side and stories connect to the product, a fresh product positioning and the business could make significant money with the right investment.
The vision I had to reboot and drive ultra focus the business wasn’t shared by the founder and their vanity-based KPI wasn’t exactly what the brand needed, what the non-users craved and that’s not what the hundreds of thousands of daily active users would ever care about.
Like I have said before big ideas rarely hit home, especially with founders, cofounders and CEOs as it means big shifts within the business and often has large time and business costs they just cannot commit to.
A Restart Story
In March 2020 I left a leadership role, I poured my heart and soul into the business and through five years of being connected to the company first as a consultant and then employed I knew in late 2019 after annual planning and discussions that I needed a full restart.
I knew from the internal coaching and the work that gave me energy, I had to start my mission to fix the broken world of work, I knew companies weren’t placing the right emphasis on creating a company-wide strategy where people (company culture) and performance (company strategy) were rarely connected or aligned that this was the focus that businesses needed.
I knew this was the restart I needed.
What I didn’t think would be a two-year battle (thanks to the pandemic) was a long restart and many still are catching up to the concept of bringing people and performance closer together and understanding that the way it has always been done isn’t working in the 2020’s and those leading industries (away from big tech) are tackling this in more progressive ways…
A Hard Reboot Story
A business I have been advising this year needed a hard reboot.
Their business is large, they are a national favourite, however, they were being chopped down piece by piece and broken down by numerous new competitors and their features were no longer unique or value-driving vs. cheaper or free options.
My recommendation was:
- To revisit their annual strategy and rethink it from a fresh perspective
- To rethink how their product should work for existing but also for the new use cases appearing in the market and in products adjacent to them
- To understand the lite product hacking (when people use your product in a completely new way you never considered)
- To consider how they showed up with their pricing.
We had a number of sessions and took a hard reboot approach, to go back to if they were a startup, review their own product be brutally honest and run a keep, kill, core and copy approach to the product and run a set of pricing surveys.
Looking Back With Fresh Set Of Eyes
None of these was fun to me, it was incredibly hard work and took a number of painful conversations but one was an enlightening business lesson for me, one has helped me understand the lay of the land in businesses and agencies and has been a brilliant foundation to my career and another enabled me to be part of an IPO, numerous M&A deals and drive positive change for people I coach and the businesses I help to reshape.
This week’s focus action is to down and think about how you are performing and consider which R phase are you in and what you need:
- A Refresh
- A Reset
- A Reboot
- A Restart
Have a great week ahead and if I can help you on your 4R journey happily email me directly firstname.lastname@example.org