The Risk of “Parachuting”
At CustomScoop recently, we have had some conversations about how I tend to “parachute in” to various discussions. Some of it is of my own doing, inserting myself into something that I have an interest in or opinion on, while sometimes it is at the request of one or another team member who wants to solicit my feedback or advice.
Of course, since I spend time on a number of different ventures, I often find that I am not as well-prepared for some of these sessions as I would like to be. And the team I think would agree with that. There can be some advantage to that, in that I can take a fresher look at things since I am not immersed in things on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, I find that I sometimes base my judgments and views on what I knew of the business from years ago when I was involved on a day-to-day basis. But time has passed and our customer base has changed.
We’re in the middle of doing some exciting strategic planning that will result in some cool (and useful) new functionality and initiatives, so I am involved in more meetings than usual. Because of that, I’m feeling the tug of the cords on my parachute pulling on me. The uncertainty I have felt over what I knew to be the case back then and what I suspect may be the case today has created a knowledge gap that I wanted to fill.
So I set aside time over the past few days to get back in closer touch with our customers. It’s a bit harder than it was when I co-founded CustomScoop nearly 10 years ago since we have quite a few more customers than we did back then.
To combat the disorientation of the parachute trip, I have spent a number of hours reviewing individual customer accounts. I’m going to try to do another post soon about precisely what I’m doing to get back up to speed, but the basics are to explore each account to get a sense as to what a customer is looking for and how they are using our system to achieve results.
It has been an eye-opening experience as things have definitely changed — usually for the better — since I was last involved in daily operations. The new perspective has caused me to change some long-held opinions. In fact, at one point today I found myself meeting with Steve Bracy, our EVP, where I told him his assessment on a few issues was clearly more correct than my own and the shfit was directly related to getting smarter about customer needs.
In my case, the example may be a bit dramatic since I flow in and out of my companies, but even those of you who may have just one company probably find yourself parachuting into various issues within the enterprise that you may not be as well-connected with now as you perhaps were a few years ago.
Don’t be afraid to question your assumptions and do what it takes to educate yourself on whatever it is that you need to make a decision on or provide input for. After all, you don’t want that parachute to fail you, right?