Lost Your Founder's Front Line Focus? - Michael Synk - #GetInSynk

Let’s talk about the third predictable pitfall of growth.

One of the key strategic advantages a company can have is the founder’s focus, especially as it applies to the front line.

Obviously, the founder of your organization (maybe you?) started the business. To be successful starting any sort of company, the founder usually has a unique understanding of everything on the front lines of the business. He/she was the frontline, sales person, customer service person, negotiator, marketing person, order taker, etc. As such he/she knows what it takes to successfully transact business with customers. The customers and all their nuances are known. The founder knows the deal; he knows the challenges the front line has when transacting business. His knowledge of this, and his ability to do it, is why the company has come so far.

What happens when the founder steps away?

So often, the founder steps away from the front line or stops paying attention to the front line transactions. When that happens the company is at risk. Just ask Howard Schultz of Starbucks.

After years of great year-over-year growth, he sold the business. It flat lined, much to the chagrin of the buyers. This is the third predictable pitfall to growth that you want to avoid.

The new management changed the focus to efficiency and took their eyes off the front line transactions and how they attract sales. The barista’s became hidden (the barista performs a key front line activity), menu changed and became less coffee oriented (key front line attraction), and the stores became smaller which made hanging around less attractive (again a key front line ambiance). There were many more similar things too numerous to mention.

The new guys didn’t appreciate everything that went on at the front lines. Schultz came back and noticed the mess ups. They were called self-inflicted wounds. He triaged them, and therefore made Starbucks four times more valuable than before the sale. The founder’s focus returned.

Find, define, and remind your team of your founder’s focus and how they can continue it.