🌼 George has been a mentor since early in my career. During a call long ago, I outlined my ongoing initiatives. He said, “You know, Pavel, one of these days remind me to teach you about focus.”
We had a neat opportunity for a marketing initiative this week. It’s the type of initiative that’s worked well for many companies and could easily work for ours. We had an easy point of entry to run a pilot. At first glance it seemed like a no-brainer to at least try it. After all, the pilot is inexpensive and there are plenty of ways to scale if the results look great. In about 5 minutes it had gone from a neat idea to a commitment to a next step because it seemed so easy.
I promptly killed it. No regrets. There are a ton of great tactics to market our business. I really do want to take each and every one on a test drive. And in time, with the right resources, I hope we can. But I know that they come with big, often hidden, costs.
First, there are the tactical costs. Somebody has to do the thing (and all the sub-things necessary to do the thing), coordinate with the people, and measure, analyze and report the results. These costs exist regardless of how small the pilot is. Then, there are the opportunity costs. I know the cost of executing a pilot comes at the expense of executing a core strategy. We have plenty of reasons to believe in our core strategy so every bit of energy we spend elsewhere costs our small team dearly.
I love the idea of letting a thousand flowers bloom. I believe very strongly in testing new ideas and making bets with asymmetric payoffs. I think they are best done, though, within the context of a strategy. Before the flowers bloom, I want to make sure the seeds are planted in the right garden. If the bet is appropriate, it should fit neatly into the strategy. If it doesn’t fit, and it’s worth doing anyway, maybe it’s time to evolve the strategy.
I still lose focus too often, but I know why the fight for focus is worthwhile. Message received, George!