Becoming a Business Grandmaster

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When it comes to running the board, what’s the difference between a chess player and a grandmaster?

Sure, grandmasters have thousands of hours of experience. And this expertise gives them a complex understanding of the nuances of the game. But at the most basic level, grandmasters see the big picture — the forest and all its trees.

While amateurs are busy focusing on isolated moves — taking out a pawn here or capturing a rook there — grandmasters see the chessboard in large chunks. They often think five, or even 10 moves ahead. Will the move they make in this moment set them up for a checkmate 15 moves down the line?

Lesser players struggle because they are unable to incorporate this level of strategic complexity into their play. And ultimately, it undermines their ability to create successful outcomes.

Running the Board
Building a successful company and implementing complex, cross-functional initiatives are a lot like navigating a chessboard. To win in our rapidly changing marketplace, we need to integrate knowledge in a way that achieves better and faster outcomes. And in some cases, it’s important sacrifice short-term gains for long-term profits.

To accomplish this, some amount of complexity is required up front. Creating a shared framework, language and process can help stakeholders avoid unnecessary organizational complications over time. This is where the value of a holistic, cross-functional approach comes in.

If you have a business goal in mind, it’s important to take some time during the planning phase to figure out who is doing what, when, where, why and how.

A careful analysis of your team and key stakeholders can help you figure out which team members are needed during which phases of the project. Visionaries and Designers are needed during the initial phases of a project, whereas Builders and Activators are the best at taking projects over the finish line. 

Fighting Conventional Wisdom
In a business climate built around quarterly results and a constant push for starting yesterday, it can be hard to fight for the forest. The trees demand so much attention. 

But given enough time, the forest usually wins. 

Consider Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos, a perennial advocate for long-term thinking. With this mindset in place, Amazon has consistently stayed away from flashy wins, opting instead for expanding its capacity and fine-tuning its operations. These rather dull goals have occasionally minimized Amazon’s quarterly profits — and have even created losses. But this kind of big-picture thinking has also made Amazon the king of retail. Simply put, they own the chessboard.

Building the Amazons of Tomorrow
Amazon’s long-term success is rarely emulated in the business community. In a recent survey of over 1,000 C-level executives and board members, 65 percent said the pressure to generate short-term financial results has intensified in recent years. Many of these leaders faced significant pressure to generate financial success in less than two years.

Too often, these short-term pressures make it hard for companies to justify long-term investments. But failing to do so sets companies up for trouble later on. With enough short-term compromises and a “ready, aim, fire” mindset, companies and projects alike are unfortunately setting themselves up to achieve the same outcomes as novice chess players.

So how do we become grandmasters in business? Much of it lies in following the Velocity Advantage model. Instituting and streamlining processes, and putting the right people in charge at the right time, helps companies withstand the pressures of short term, disintegrated thinking. 

If companies want to become grandmasters, they need to think beyond quarters and start thinking about winning the game that will be played a decade from now.

For more insights on achieving velocity and long-term success through a more holistic cross-functional approach, contact Consequent and check out The Velocity Advantage.           


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