Explorers as CEOs, CEOs as Explorers

Explorers, Big Red Car?

Big Red Car here. Bit cloudy in the ATX but it is still On Earth As It Is In Texas!

So, The Boss is talking to a CEO about his approach to managing change and growing his company.

The Boss says, “Think of yourself as an explorer.”

The CEO sayeth, “WTF are you talking about?”

Managing change, a trick

The Boss has taught many a CEO to manage change within an organization before the team has a chance to react to the proposition by making the following simple ploy:

“I’ve given this a lot of thought, taken your views into consideration, and I think it makes sense to try this experiment. It’s just an experiment and if it doesn’t work, we can walk it backwards. An experiment.”

Anyone who opposes the “experiment” has the added burden of being both against the change and against the concept of change and against the idea of conducting a live fire experiment.

You have to do all the same planning and communication but now you have lowered the threshold and made the decision about an experiment rather than the change itself. Who doesn’t love an experiment?

The outcome is the same — if it works, the experiment becomes permanent. If it doesn’t work, the experiment becomes a “failed” experiment which sounds a lot less painful than the alternative. Some great number of changes do not work but it is even easier to live with a failed experiment. All attitude.

Explorers explore

We — founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs — are often our own worst enemies when it comes to doing what needs to be done. We procrastinate. We take counsel of our fears. We are influenced by others. We are so damn busy. We are afraid to go places where there is no footpath or footprints in the dewy, untrod grass.

The antidote is to simply commit to “explore” something. In the same way you are equivocating with your team to at least taste the pistachio ice cream, you are rationalizing your action with yourself. Become explorers.

On two specific instances, The Boss fell into excellent business offshoots because he simply agreed to “explore” the opportunity. They both took relatively small amounts of money and both bore fruit. Left to a fully staffed and complete analysis, he might have passed on the opportunities but he didn’t. He agreed to explore. Explorers explore.

When you find yourself attracted to a business proposition but unable to convince yourself, let your guard down just a smidgen and “explore” it. This is a call to all founders, entrepreneurs, CEOs — become explorers.

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway? I’m just a Big Red Car and I’ve been exploring the Hill Country while The Boss was out of town. Do not tell The Boss cause I’m still working on him about the paint job. Be kind to yourself and be kind to someone who would never expect it. You’ll like how it feels.cropped-LTFD-illust_300.png



5 thoughts on “Explorers as CEOs, CEOs as Explorers

  1. A mind is like a parachute, Best utilized when ‘open’.
    Unlike the Chapecoense travesty (your Bonanza experience should have taught your about “range”) where the Capitan (also the owner) did not understand alternatives.

    • .
      Simple flight preparation is so fundamental that considerations such as fuel do not rise to the level of planning. You flight plan for the effective fuel capacity (not nominal) plus 45 minutes plus the longest approach you might fly with two tries. That is catechism not planning.

      You also know where every alternate landing site is along your entire route of flight before you start your engines.

      As to parachutes, you always carry a reserve and know when to cut the main loose and deploy the reserve.

      Two excellent analogies on the part of the Space Cowboy. Well played.

      Merry Christmas.


  2. as often as a CEO needs to be willing to try “the next big thing,” whether a marketing strategy, product concept, or new hire, sometimes exploring manifests itself as retreating.

    so the closed loop on positive exploration, is also knowing when to end it.

    • .
      Life is all about beginnings and endings. One caution I give is that sometimes a business is just six inches from the mother lode when they stop digging. Don’t be that CEO.

      Easy advice to give but tough advice to live.

      Then, again, all the easy deals got done in the 1960s.

      Merry Christmas!


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