Friday, 25 August 2017 03:02

Can You Use Brain Surgery to Help Your Business Grow?

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It started with what appeared to be a stroke. Yes, this is about your business, please stick with me here. We'll highlight something that can help you to grow your business more consistently and systematically.

The stroke patient assumed that his event was part of the unstoppable decline of his brain. His assumption: Brain death is a given. With that assumption neuroplasticity must be impossible.

And now you may be asking what neuroplasticity might be. This may be over simple, but neuroplasticity is what happens when patients re-route their own neural pathways so that different parts of the brain take on new functions. That suggests that our mind can repair our brain. For centuries this was considered impossible.

Now there is plenty of literature to support the sensibleness of neuroplasticity. So today I can turn to my friend and say:

"20 years ago, your stroke would be considered permanent damage. Here in 2016 your doctor has studies that demonstrate that you might be able to repair your neurological injury without surgery. Are you interested?"

This question is going to generate a conversation. In a few paragraphs I'll bring it around to our businesses, but let's consider how to explain the brain part in plain English.

Example: Treatment for One Patient
What I say here will become part of the business discussion. It'll be simplistic but accurate enough to say something like:

"When you drive to work, and the freeway is under construction, you can route around the blockage. If you have to repeat the detour for enough days you just adapt. You still get to work in an automatic manner. You make a good route and continue to use it. "You don't need a surgeon to do that do you? You just explore the alternatives yourself. It's almost second nature to assume that it will work. And when you hit that roadblock the first time you don't need to know exactly how you'll adapt. But you assume that you will find a way to make it work.

"The same thing can happen in your brain. Your synapses hit a block, and you can just stop and sit there and wait. Or you can make a different route. We used to think that impossible. Now we call it neuroplasticity.

"This always starts with assumption and conviction. In the traffic metaphor, you're assuming that you'll make it happen for your drive. That conviction, that you'll do this, is the key that helps you transition from stuck in traffic to moving on a new path. You don't need to know the next turn to feel sure that you can make one happen.

"The studies show is that this assumption is clearly transferable from car traffic to your neurology. That means that the solution is not in knowing the exact path. The solution is in knowing that you'll make a path."

In other words, the key to making this work is asking the patient to decide that he can reroute. I'm not trying to show the patient how to reroute. I am confident that when he decides that he can, he'll do it. That sounds odd, but it is clinically pretty accurate.

Applying This to Your Business
Your business will probably face roadblocks as it grows. The question is not if you will. The question is not whether you immediately know what to do, you may or may not. The question is:

"What assumptions do you and your team members make when the road crumbles in front of you?"

This is may sound odd, but I'm not asking you to assume that you will find new paths, nor take them. I'm asking you to assume that you will make them. Lets look at two examples.

Examples: Making Sales Happen
This can be as simple as when sales project comes to a roadblock. Early in my career I was close to finishing a deal to provide an important solution to a turbine company. The customer's executives had chosen our solution, verbally committed, and then told people outside their company. We felt pretty good about it.

Until the CFO discovered that he could neither pay cash for the project, nor tap his credit. The sale was going on hold because the CFO could not get the money until the next year. It was clear that the President of the turbine company wanted do this project immediately, but said that he felt limited in what he could do. He felt compelled to delay. However, to me a postponement would be tantamount to losing the sale.

What you want in your representative is someone who will not stop just because the CEO says no. You want a representative who will start face a roadblock and assume that his or her job is to look around the roadblock and make, not find but make, a solution. The ultimate solution isn't clear, but the assumption is.

In this case we built a custom lease for the customer and closed the sale in a week. The President got the value for his company he wanted. But that isn't the point is it? The point is that my team all assumed that we would make this work.

I had a similar situation with the owner of a chain of newspapers. He chose my solution and started to implement it. However, the many unions couldn't agree among themselves on how to support our project and everything stalled. It wasn't about the project. It was about politics between union locals. However, this was halting any chance to get the value the plan could bring.

The owner wouldn't accept the statement that "it can't be done." This man had a long history of exceeding previous limits, and his business and social stature reflected that. He assumed that we would make a way. He asked my help and we made a path for it to happen.

The solution we crafted kept his papers growing for several years. It happened when he worked from the assumption that he could and would make a new path inside his plants.

The 2x2 Growth Grid
Those examples might be a flash of the blindingly obvious to you. That is a good thing, but lets look at how this works.

Remember the 2x2 Growth Grid from a previous post? It has a vertical axis of 'limited or growth' and 'take or make' on the horizontal axis.


Lets map the examples here. The President of the turbine company was in the lower left corner. He was assuming a limited capacity. He chose to take the options provided, not try to make any. The owner of the newspaper chain made a different choice. He was focused on growing past previous limits and choosing to make a new path instead of taking the case presented by the unions. The owner of the newspapers was up and to the right on this grid.

This is about our operating assumptions. We control those. How we do that happens deep in the fabric of the business, just like changing neural pathways. This is about choosing business neuroplasticity. And we can make that choice.

The otherwise impossible solutions work when you start with the assumption that you can grow and that you can make instead of just accept what seems to be there. The same is true when you choose, even though it might be heretical, to do this in your business.

From Intuition to Successful Growth
For the patient, for the sales person, for the CEO, for the owner, the key to success isn't knowing what path she or he will take. It is his or her personal assumption that she or he will make the path the company needs.

You know intuitively that not all salespeople and not all executives are excited about making a new path. For them the pattern of success from the past is the right starting assumption. The past is always relevant, but it doesn't guide us. We get to make our own choices here. Do we assume growth? Do we assume that we make instead of take? Do we assume that we can build new paths? When we do, we are performing neuroplasticity on our business. And we are promoting sustainable growth.

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Peter Meyer

Owner/Founder of TMG

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