The future for the “satisfied” CEO

 

By Brian Walker
CEO & Founder, Retail Doctor Group


“If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes,” – Albert Einstein

Change is a misnomer. It implies that we are going through or about to “change”, in whatever way this means, and in any given circumstance. From Andy Groves’ “Only the paranoid survive”, the “why” of Simon Sinek, to the great curiosities and courage of today’s best leaders, the enemy of change is probably not inertia; rather it’s more likely to be satisfaction (I guess a type of inertia in itself).

Recently a leading CEO said to me that he was “satisfied’ with his business, and this was, with grateful appreciation, the catalyst for today’s article/blog.

“Satisfied” or “content” are the beginnings of the great malaise that avoids questions such as:

  • What do I really need to know about my customers that I actually don’t? What is the “truth” about my customers?
  • How could I create an endless aisle model that differentiates us?
  • What is coming downstream in my category and am I truly building a game plan here?
  • How do we lift our sales intensity +10% per square metre?
  • What other revenue streams do I have invitation to play in?
  • How do we actually increase our stockturn in three categories by 1 and reduce aged inventory profile by 20%?

There are many more questions the dissatisfied CEO and board would ask – questions that Lowy, Normans, Lews and many others ask every moment of every day.

Is there a coincidence that business greatness and dissatisfied CEOs are siblings borne of a relentless pursuit?

Looking at the business failures over time, it’s the “Good vs. Great”. Whilst a satisfied CEO aims for good, a great CEO is dissatisfied until great is a culturally embedded imperative. This means challenging sacred cows, habitually questioning oneself and constantly looking for an edge. Remaining “unsatisfied” is indeed not an easy task.

It is ultimately critical to allow the authentic curious invitation to counsel and oneself to always wonder: How can we do it better?

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group.

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