It is so easy for executives to get caught up in the day-to-day process of running and managing our businesses that we lose perspective. And when we do, we fall into the trap of doing things the way we always have.
I like to think about it this way . . .
The higher up you are in your organization, the greater the percentage of time becomes that you should spend working on your business, not working in your business.
A functional manager, someone who manages a call center for example, can perhaps spend 95% of the day supervising subordinates, tracking calling activity, and handling the other day-to-day requirements of the job. That would leave 5% of the day to reflect on how to do the job, make improvements, etc. But if you are a CEO, you should spend 95% of your time reflecting on your business, considering what is happening in other industries, talking to senior executives at other companies, talking to your customers and senior executives and performing higher-level activities. If you are a middle manager, depending on the nature of your responsibilities, you might be able to invest 10% of your time reflecting on bigger issues and 90% of your time performing your job. The higher you are up on the company hierarchy, the more time you should spend working on, not in.
There are many ways to discover fresh perspectives. Regularly explore the marketplace – physically and through magazines, journals and online. The concepts that you discover can be game changing.
Traveling to other countries can also open your eyes to new approaches. When I was in the floor covering business, for example, I got many ideas when I travelled to Europe. I saw that stores there did things quite differently from the way we did in the U.S. I found ideas that had validity back home.
Another important activity is to look at competition not just in your space, but at companies in other industries that are courting the customers that you are. You are selling products that require those customers to spend dollars, but those customers also have the choice to spend their money in other ways. So if you look closely at what companies are doing in other industries and sectors, you can develop new ideas about how you can compete for those dollars.
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