We all find it difficult to take a good hard look at ourselves. We become indignant when others point out our flaws. For example, you know you need to perform an exorcism on your lawn, but you’re not thrilled when your neighbor makes the suggestion. You may also know you need to loose a few pounds, but when your spouse points this out, you feel betrayed. You mean I don’t look the same as I did in college?
It can be threatening to look at yourself in the mirror and make an honest assessment. Bonnie Raitt shared her thoughts on aging in her 1990 hit “Nick of Time”.
“No matter how you tell yourself, it’s what we all go through
Those lines are pretty hard to take when they’re starin’ back at you … Scared to run out of time”
We are all a bit frightened of the future, but I can assure you, it’s not going to get any easier if you are afraid to look in the mirror.
Think about putting your company in front of that mirror.
Evaluating how well your company is doing today will provide an important baseline for your future plans to honestly and methodically build business value. A terrific side benefit is that it will also help you build a stronger leadership team. Your team is one of the keys to a successful analysis of your company’s current position in the market, and it will be crucial in increasing your company’s value. While this evaluation takes hard work, the benefits of having a cohesive leadership team that agrees on the current position of the company are priceless.
Stan Sloane, the CEO of SRA International, has done six acquisitions in three years. Sloane said that on average, he and his merger and acquisition team sort through about a hundred “frogs” before he ﬁnds one company that’s a “prince.” The hundred frogs are the companies that receive a subpar or par valuation. The prince is the one company in a hundred that commands the elusive premium value because it’s doing the hard work that the other companies in its competitive space are not.
But before you can start thinking about any actions or transformational initiatives that will take your company from where it is to the place where it can become a real market leader, you’ve got to talk seriously with company leaders about where your company is right now. You need to look into the mirror and get everybody’s perceptions of the company as it exists today out on the table.
This discussion will provide three immediate beneﬁts.
First, you’ll develop a baseline, a market position that will make all of you nod your heads and say, “Yes, that’s where we are.”
Second, this is the initial step toward determining what kind of actions or transformational initiatives your company needs to undertake to create a premium value.
The third benefit is the most important—it helps to connect people across the entire company.
Enterprises infrequently have company-wide discussions about what’s really happening on the ground. For example, your marketing people may seldom have any contact with the folks in engineering, and your sales force may rarely have any meaningful interaction with the people in corporate planning.
This exercise gives everybody a chance to have the kind of enterprise-wide conversation that almost never happens. Just getting the key players to talk about the same issues will be beneﬁcial.
So pull your team together and position your company in front of the mirror.
Those lines staring back at you are begging for change.