handsLike so many others this time of year, I have been avidly watching hockey and basketball playoff games. It is fairly simple to observe the passion and energy of the players, but I find myself concentrating more on the coaches and their strategic decisions. I am especially interested in their in-game adjustments because often changes are made in between playing periods that impact the outcome of the games.

It is plain to see why things need to be shaken up if things look bleak on the scoreboard. But when a given team is winning its game, it is fascinating to watch the plan get altered anyway. An adept basketball or hockey coach always looks at both the “macro game” (series as a whole) and the “micro game” (single sequences). Good leaders—in sport or business—see opportunities to improve in both the larger and smaller context. In my experience as a CEO, I have often attempted to get past comfort and stability to reach modification and growth.

At Sumus, we use the lessons of the past to inform decisions in the present. We are constantly reflecting on leadership and decision-making with the thought that there is always something to be learned or gained. I can relate a personal experience that will demonstrate how leaders must observe and evaluate the market, and then make key decisions based on what has been learned.

In 1991, as co-CEO of a small and moderately successful information technology (IT) staffing company called ASG, I saw two main opportunities to change the game plan. First, IT staffing was becoming passé and commoditized, so we needed to look in to the future and see the next trend. And, operating a regional business in the new computerized economy was not optimal if we planned to maximize our ability to create new business.

To solve the first problem, I was made aware of software called “SAS” that utilized numerous SAS programmers for processing pharmaceutical data. Since we recruited programmers, adding SAS programmers to our model made sense. After attending a user group conference, I realized the plain truth of my last statement.  The pharmaceutical and contract research organization (CRO) industry was robust and growing and therefore needed our services.  After scratching and clawing in IT, this new industry was nirvana for ASG!

Having stumbled upon SAS, I addressed the second issue by driving expansion into the Midwest and the West Coast. At one point a little later, I asked a client in North Carolina about how we could win more business, and the suggestion made was for us to open an office in Raleigh. So we did.

Changes are often met with skepticism, and part of the massive transition of ASG involved buying out my partner—for $26,000. But leaders with vision and conviction are motivated by the market and its opportunities and are unafraid of change.

At Sumus, we help businesses identify areas of growth and then implement a plan for success, regardless of the current state of their scoreboard. Are you ready to make in-game adjustments?

Jim Baker

Jim Baker

Sumus was founded by Jim Baker, an entrepreneur with 27 years’ experience bootstrapping and growing his business organically and through acquisition, to share his experience by providing advisory services around Board representation, Organization and Branding Strategy, Mergers & Acquisitions, Value enhancement and Exit strategy.

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