The Character Traits and Skills of the Successful CEO — Experimentation

Big Red Car here.  It’s zero dark thirty here in the ATX and it’s a bit cool for us hot house creatures.  It’s right at 39F with a forecasted high of 43F and a low of 24F.  Brrrrr!

So what does it take to be a successful CEO?  You’re going to have to conduct some experiments — experimentation, Old Sport.

A lab coat, a bunch of lab rats and a lab?

[Big Red Car joke:  What is the difference between a lab rat and a lawyer?  There are SOME things a lab rat will NOT do.  Haha, Big Red Car, you are a simpleton.]

Why experimentation, Big Red Car?

There are many things in the course of changing the world that you simply cannot reason to a conclusion.  How do you really know whether one or another of the innovations or initiatives that seem to be attractive at first blush is the right way to allocate capital or time?  This happens often when product development runs smack into marketing.

Should we focus on the product and develop incremental capabilities or should we be out in the marketplace pitching our deal?  Can the improved product sell itself?  Where is the best place to spend our limited capital?  [Beware the false choice.  Sometimes, often maybe, the answer is BOTH.]

Would the addition of a different marketing channel increase sales at an attractive and justifying ROI?

The answer to many of these questions is simple:  “Well, we really don’t know.”  [WTF, Big Red Car, that’s not much of an answer.  We want answers.  Now.]

Unfortunately, Old Sport, that is the way it works when you are changing the world — you are in uncharted territory, so you decide to conduct an experiment.

Big point — an experiment, even if flawed, is the first step toward actually answering the question while sitting around endlessly discussing the issue acknowledging it cannot be resolved simply by talk is a waste of time and energy.

Experimentation as change management agent

The Boss learned early on in his business career that folks are often resistant to change for no other reason than it was, in fact, a change.  People rarely like change.  Oh, there are some folks who thrive on it but most folks will fight you on change.

So, when The Boss wanted to introduce a change — he would communicate it, request feedback and then implement the change under of the guise of an innocent experiment.

“As you have so wisely indicated, this may not be the right thing to do but let’s take a crack at it.  We’ll just conduct an experiment and see how we like it in a month or so.  Sound good?  We’re only committing to an experiment.

OK, Boss, but it’s only an experiment, right?

You bet.”

A month later if the experiment worked there would be dozens of folks who were in favor of it from the very beginning.  [Big Red Car sayeth:  “Success has many parents.”  STFU, Big Red Car.]

A month later if the experiment had failed to achieve the desired results everybody had been against it from the start and it was all The Boss’s deal.  [Big Red Car sayeth:  “Failure is an orphan.”]

In most instances, the experiment would be successful and still require a bit of tweaking — not twerking, haha, tweaking — to make it better.  When the experiment was successful the tweakers were in good supply.  Everybody wants to be associated with success.

To be an effective and successful CEO, you will have to get a white lab coat and be prepared to conduct some skillful and clever experiments.

You can do it.

Need some help or want to chat about it?  Call The Boss at 512-656-1383 or email him at [email protected]

But, hey, what the Hell do I really know anyway?  I’m just a Big Red Car.  Be kind to yourself today.  Stay warm.