Two Heads Are Better Than One
I like reading Steve Blank’s posts. Always did. And therefore, I even borrowed the famous lyrics from Leonard Cohen (LC) songs to describe Steve… Simply put, if LC could call himself “The Little Jew Who Wrote The Bible” — I called Steve “The Little Jew Who Wrote The… Entrepreneurial Bible”.
Heck, I even recommended awarding Steve Blank with Nobel Prize in Entrepreneurial Economics and wrote to 10 leading business schools about it. But for some reason or another, my tweets and posts never caught fire.
So, in the end, Steve didn’t travel to Oslo, Nobel’s New Jerusalem, and he didn’t get to shake hands with Norway royalties. Well, but who knows what the future brings? Perhaps in 2022… right after this post?
In “When There Seems to Be No Way Out — Customer Discovery for Your Head”, Steve writes: “As a young, driven entrepreneur I prided myself on my ability to plan my way out of most business problems. But at times in my career I’d run into a problem I couldn’t solve.
Sometimes these problems would keep me up at night worrying, thoughts racing around my head like a tornado between my ears. I’d imagine only the worst possible outcomes, thinking there were only black and white solutions, or no solutions. I’d get trapped in this loop with my wife telling me to “go to sleep,” until I finally passed out anxious and exhausted. At times this went on for days.”
And Steve concludes: “Don’t spend a lot of time obsessing. Reach out to mentors, coaches and advisors for personalized advice. Use the web to find generic advice”
Now, hearing such suggestions is like music to my ears. After all, I’ve been recommending for years to hundreds of CEOs to create an Advisory Board. However, since one of my most favoured quotes of Warren Buffett says: “Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building arks does” — I also started to offer an actual solution to such a problem, faced by so many CEOs…
In my post “REINVENTING XYZ” I emphasized the importance of not leaving the REINVENTION process in the hands of a single executive. And I said: “Whatever you do, remember: Like in PROCUREMENT, single-source seldom works”…
To me, “the merit of the outside advice received during the Reinvention Process — has nothing to do with how many years the advisor was involved within a specific industry. I said: If you already have considerable domain-specific expertise, it’s time to start looking for outside-the-box thought-leaders. After all, the most successful companies strike the right BALANCE between:
· Domain-specific experts AND generalists
· Mile-deep AND mile-wide points of view
· Strategists AND tacticians
· Leaders AND managers, etc.
Why? Because there are significant benefits to BOTH. And only by using both types of advisers, the companies can gain from new and innovative recommendations and insights. The best turnarounds and pivots occur when CEOs take outside advice seriously.
No matter the size of your company, surrounding yourself with smart, pragmatic, honest, and extremely diversified Advisory Boards — is as important, as hiring the right employees. Otherwise, and before you know it, the “Law Of The Instruments” takes place: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a big nail” …
So, to REINVENT, I recommend using the following COMMON-SENSE process to solve such an Expert/Generalist dilemma:
· Generalists — use such outside advisors to reinvent old business models & generate new growth strategies
· Experts — use domain-specific experts to significantly accelerate, enhance, and optimize the revived growth strategies
· Verifiers — repeat the process when the growth flattens…
But from my own experience, I am convinced that even Steve Blank can’t persuade most of the CEOs to act. In my post “Reinventing BODs” I mentioned: The fact is that there is not a single top athlete who does not have a coach.
And yet, only 20% of CEOs are coached by Advisors — the other 80% may never become the top performers they could have been. So, my CEO recommendation is quite clear:
“Amateurs don’t use coaches, professionals do… and so should you”
To make things worse, even the 20% of CEOs who used advisors — wouldn’t acquire such help and talk to an advisor without a referral. Not surprisingly, the gene pool of good advice is shrinking dramatically in all such cases…
And when the CEOs dismiss my help and say that they already have an advisor — I frequently point out that it is like saying:
You bought a business book in the past and do not need to look at another one…
Therefore, I asked myself a simple question:
1) If offering ADVICE to CEOs is facing such an overwhelming roadblock — what is the most pragmatic way to meet such a challenge?
2) And could BOD play a greater role in helping the company to meet and exceed its growth targets, bring new & untapped revenue streams to boost ROIs, and deliver the results as planned?
The answer to the above recently dawned on me: The easiest way to solve such a problem is to… bring a Co-CEO onboard!
So, when I recently came across a great post by Aaron Dinin “I Killed My Company By Being Good at too Many Things — I realized that we can extend the Co-CEO concept to BODs and Advisory Boards, too…
Aaron’s thesis boils down to this: too many entrepreneurs are the so-called… “renaissance men”. And he explains: “Entrepreneurs tend to be generalists. They’re good at lots of things, which makes them able to fill numerous roles in small organizations.
However, because their interests are so broad, they rarely have enough time to build expertise around one skill, so they don’t learn how to be great at anything. The result can be disastrous for startups as they try to grow”
This made me think about an easy solution to such a problem… and the problem is that too many “generalist entrepreneurs” run their companies “solo” for too long.
As a result, many entrepreneurs solve business problems without making any money. And many businesses make a lot of money without solving any problems. What we need is: Profitable Entrepreneurship instead…
IMHO, what Aaron was missing is to have a… “Specialist Co-CEO”. And unless CEOs resemble Moses and can part water, BODs must insist that all CEOs have a competent Advisory Board in place and choose the right Co-CEO. After all, seeing the big picture is equally important as paying attention to domain-specific details…
And who can dispute the famous proverb that: “the two heads are better than one” — just ask Merriam-Webster Dictionary… It says: “it is easier for two people who help each other to solve a problem than it is for one person to solve a problem alone”
So, why should progressive BODs leave the company’s fortunes in the hands of a single executive? Not only would it solve Steve’s and Aaron’s problem — but a dual-CEO structure could also significantly help with another issue…
I am talking about the opportunity to solve the nagging Gender/Race Equality problem, too. Consider enforcing in growth-startups, mid-size, and especially in larger corporations to have BOD Co-Chairwomen serving side by side with BOD Co-Chairman.
The duality concept is not limited to CEOs. It can be extended to BODs, Advisory Boards, etc. Moreover, BODs could be mandated to nominate female Co-CEOs and female Co-Chairs of the BOD — at every publicly traded company…
As more companies begin to understand that the volatility is here to stay and that due to IT, Digitization, and AI innovation most corporate reinventions must now take place every 2–3 years, it’s time for the BODs to act smarter and more proactively.
And who knows, perhaps the Co-CEO duality will also stop some of the “fake-it-till-you-make-it” misgivings of Silico Valley? Especially, I strongly recommend: “adding a “seasoned” Co-CEO to the mix. The surprising findings of the recent MIT study done on 2.7MM business clearly indicate the following:
“A 40-year-old startup founder is 2.1 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old, and A 50-year-old startup founder is 2.8 times more likely to found a successful startup as a 25-year-old founder.
Still not convinced? Well, a 60-year-old startup founder is … 3 times as likely to launch a successful startup as a 30-year-old startup founder. The bottom line: Older Founders Are More Likely to Succeed and BODs should take note of such findings…”
· Running the companies with Co-CEOs brings many benefits. It lowers the anxieties of a single CEO and allows for productive utilization of both: Experts and Generalists
· In similarity, running the BODs and Advisory Boards with Co-Chairs may help all the corporations, large and small — to enhance their ESG brand
· And at public companies, such mandated changes can lower the Gender and Race Gaps, and boost competencies at many levels…
For More Information
Please see my additional posts on Linkedin, Twitter, Medium, and CGE’s website.
You can also find additional info in my book on amazon: “AI Boogeyman — Dispelling Fake News About Job Losses”, and on our YouTube Studio channel… Thank you.
“BODs Serve Investors, Advisory Boards Are CEOs’ Best Friends”
- Imitation works best in karaoke bars, not in business. To escape the competition, businesses need to constantly reinvent. So, I join Advisory Boards and “unlock” Radical Innovation.
- Helping the CEOs to escape the competitive floods — is what I do. If product descriptions qualified as IP, Business Development (BD) would have been easy. The problem is that all the competitors can use the same narratives.
- No amount of branding, marketing, and wordsmithery is going to suffice w/o utilizing BusinessAI™ — the strategies I specifically designed to achieve BD excellence.
- As a 30-yr BusinessAI™ veteran, I offer unmatched BD investment advice to VCs, PEs, and their portfolio companies. In many cases, I also Propose, Design, Structure, Finance, and Deploy state-of-the-art Joint Ventures to bring RAPID REVENUES — just as I did w/ Verizon already 20-yrs ago…
- As a founder of Canada Green ESCO Inc. (CGE), I used BusinessAI™ strategies in CleanTech and focused on fighting Climate Change and Environmental Risks — dealing with stranded assets at the largest utilities. In total, CGE raised $1B+ in project finance linked to solar (utility-scale and distributed), wind, geothermal, Waste-To-Energy (WTE), energy efficiency, and more.
- My pattern recognition abilities allow me to see what is still missing & how to maximize business offerings & profitability. And as a coach & mentor, I bring unparalleled business savvy to separate the wheat from the chaff…
- What I learned over the years is that it is not just technology innovation that makes all the difference. Business Model Innovation is as disruptive as Technology Innovation and yet I see too many companies focused on pushing their product out the door — while losing ~70% of untapped revenue streams.
- So, you can call me: “The Midas of Business Development (BD) Innovation™” as my advice is “worth its weight in gold” — at least to some open-minded CEOs…