When to Choose Pruners over a Chainsaw
September 14, 2023
When to Choose Pruners over a Chainsaw

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In This Edition:

The following is an excerpt from edition #7 of our new newsletter, The Pulse: Insights for Strategy Leaders. Enter your email below to have The Pulse delivered to your inbox every other week.

When to Choose Pruners over a Chainsaw

In the midst of uncertain market conditions, the easiest course of action for a business leader is often to consider cost-cutting measures. And as Strategy and Operations Leaders, we are often the ones tasked with spearheading these difficult conversations, particularly when growth is not as strong as it once was. During such times, there is a need to realign our internal focus and adjust our expectations to match the current economic landscape in front of us. 💫

However, this is where great Strategy and Operations Leaders can often differentiate and distinguish themselves from those just following the status quo. Rather than taking an overly defensive approach and simply cutting any and all costs deemed ‘unnecessary’ by Finance teams, we have an opportunity to take a more nuanced approach - pruning rather than slashing.

I recently had an arborist come out and inspect a tree in my backyard that had several branches that didn’t make it through the winter. 🌳 It’s a fairly large tree and we love it. It provides the only shade in our backyard, and it really is wonderful in the summertime. However, we were concerned about the risk of a branch or the entire tree falling onto our home. 🏡

Our initial instinct was to have someone come out and give us a quote on how much it would be to take it down. Better safe than sorry, right?  But after speaking with the arborist they shared that while the tree did appear to have a disease, it wasn’t necessary to cut down the entire tree. Instead, we could remove the dead branches and treat it.

This whole experience served as a masterclass in what not to do as a Business Leader.

My initial impulse was ‘let’s cut the whole thing down'. However, this decision would have not only deprived us of one of the best parts of our home and backyard, but it also would have created long-term implications that I likely wasn’t thinking about, such as:

  • Removing the fence to get the trunk out
  • Additional costs to have someone lower the branches between power lines
  • Replanting the entire garden that is currently home of flowers that thrive in limited direct sunlight

And the list goes on and on. 🔄

The same principle applies to your company. While market uncertainty, a slowdown in growth, and various other factors are likely creating a real sense of anxiety, I can assure you that adopting a ‘slash-and-hope-it-works’ approach will likely lead to regret.

A few months ago, while closing our Series A Round of funding, a mentor shared this advice:

"You want to be innovating and moving forward in a climate like this one, because your competitors won't be. If you can accelerate while most are just hanging on, trying not to go backwards, then you will come out of this with an opportunity to see the exponential growth most companies only dream of at this stage."

I’ve held onto this advice and strive to apply it when we think about how we build Elate. But this advice is applicable to every great Strategy and Operations Leader when thinking about how to accelerate in the midst of uncertainty.

Just as you wouldn’t cut down the whole tree due to a few branches that aren’t bearing fruit (or leaves 🍃), you shouldn’t issue blanket policies with an unthoughtful approach. As Strategy and Operations Leaders, we want to take a thoughtful approach, and dig into the real problem areas driving wasteful spend. 🗑️

Imposing far reaching, blanket policies are a surefire way to ensure that the ‘aim to maintain’ approach will result in an organization taking even longer to come out of a slow growth period. Often these policies are the short-term approach that can result in hacking away at company resources, spending or headcount, rather than being intentional about removing gross overspending.

If you can take your pruners out, rather than your chainsaw, focusing on how to intentionally cut excess spend and bloating throughout the business, then the rebound will be one that creates momentum for your organization. 🚀

📆 Join us next Thursday - Strategic Planning Panel & Networking

We've received numerous requests to host an event that shines a spotlight 💡 on how world-class teams go about the Strategic Planning process, and if you’re located in or around Indianapolis, you won’t want to miss this opportunity.

Next Thursday, September 21, we are hosting a FREE (!) event at the Stutz Building. From 4:00-5:00 we will be in the car museum for a panel discussion with strategy leaders from Buildertrend, Seismic (previously Lessonly), and Thornburg Investment Management. Afterwards we will walk next door to Turner’s Bar for happy hour and networking.

Aside from learning from best-in-class leaders on maximizing strategic planning efforts, it’s also a great opportunity to check out the newly renovated Stutz Campus, have a few drinks 🍻 and tacos 🌮 on the house, and connect with local business and tech leaders in the central Indiana community. We have over 100 sign-ups to-date and couldn’t be more excited about this event.

While the Panel is free, space is limited and we’re almost at capacity. If you’re still interested, sign up at the link below.

➡️ Grab your tickets and learn more about the event

The Top 5 Aspiring Ops episodes of all-time (a countdown)

In the last edition I unveiled the 5th most popular Aspiring Ops episode of all-time, and I’m excited to be back to continue our countdown. 🎉

This week we move to #4 on the list, which is also one of our most recent episodes: A Clear Vision Leads to Clear Outcomes, ft. David Rosenberg, current Secretary of Commerce for the State of Indiana and former Chief of Staff and COO at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

David shares how he has charted the course for his career by surrounding himself with incredible Leaders and how the combination of great leadership with incredible teams has helped him bring together a big vision with measurable outcomes during his time with the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

Read the episode takeaways and keep up with the countdown

That's all for today, have a great rest of your week.