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Momentum vs. Drag & Multiply by Subtraction (Strategic Coach Insights)


January 09, 2019 / by Ben Cohen, FSA, MAAA

At the beginning of a business, a company’s leadership may feel like their role involves constantly trying to pull the company forward to meet their goals. Over time, a more developed organization starts pushing their leadership, instead of being pulled behind them. The organizational entity is driving ahead and making the leaders feel as if they have to struggle to keep up with the “herd.” This is just one sign of a company that's headed toward multiplying their business (or sometimes called “10x-ing” in our entrepreneurial coaching lingo). This is the momentum that successful companies want to feel, not the drag of being held back and stalling.

On the other hand, drag can also be the source of innovation. It feels much more difficult to resolve problems in an organization than to build off past successes and compound the results for the future.

Keep in mind this analogy - we wouldn’t have figured out how to fly a plane without innovating through the concepts of lift and thrust vs. gravity and drag!

Another related concept we have explored in our entrepreneurial coaching is having the ability to multiply by subtraction. As someone from a math background, this concept certainly doesn't check out as reasonable in my mind. So, what does it mean?

If you can simplify or even eliminate obstacles that are causing drag, your business will be better positioned to grow. Unfortunately, these obstacles are usually staff members that do not fit well within your organization. Finding the right fit for an organization is difficult, but so is eliminating people that you know are not the right fit. We tell ourselves many things that lead us to hold off on these decisions, but at the end of most relationships, each person knows (or should know) why the relationship was toxic. Being honest with yourself and your staff will be better for all involved. Wouldn’t you want to be told you don’t fit, rather than feel the pressure, discomfort, and lost time in a position that doesn’t use your innate abilities? Further, it’s likely your clients are seeing the same issues that you have seen. Without question, there are others within your company that have seen the same signs. In these cases, a subtraction can actually build confidence from your employees and clients by demonstrating to them that you have the leadership to make the right decision for the business.

So, to lead a great organization, multiply by subtraction and innovate through the drag to build momentum.

Thanks to Chad Johnson, our entrepreneurial coach, @ www.strategiccoach.com.

Ben Cohen began attending the Strategic Coach entrepreneurial seminar in 2016. In this business coaching program, entrepreneurs meet quarterly to review course materials with the goal of developing their businesses into self managing companies, ultimately improving the quality of time spent both in their business and personal life.

Topics: Insights

Ben Cohen, FSA, MAAA

Written by Ben Cohen, FSA, MAAA

Ben serves as Wakely Actuarial’s President & Consulting Actuary. He joined Wakely in 2002 and enjoys the variety in the day-to-day of his current role.