Removing Barriers to Growth


Fred Perrotta
Your ability to succeed is in direct proportion to your ability to solve your problems. -Gino Wickman, Traction

Success is dictated by your ability to identify and solve problems.

Pursuing new opportunities is fine but secondary to solving problems.

Put another way, removing barriers to growth is easier and more effective than finding new avenues for growth.

At Tortuga, we have a strong preference for doing fewer things but the right things and doing them better rather than just doing more things.

This belief doesn't preclude us from growing or even growing quickly. In fact, this preference makes growth easier. We're able to get more out of what we already have, including products and marketing channels. Just like it's easier to sell more to an existing customer than to acquire a new one, it's often easier to get more out of an existing, successful channel or asset (like your blog) than to start a new one. More isn't always better, especially if you're managing "more" with your current team. Piling on is dangerous.

Gino Wikman's book Traction brought this into focus for me. He emphasizes "Issues" and includes identifying and solving issues in every meeting from your weekly team meetings to annual planning meetings.

Having issues is normal. The sooner you admit them and not view them as negative thinking or a weakness, the faster you will move forward.

Solving problems isn't just for management. Identifying and later solving problems is the responsibility of the entire company. Frontline employees often have more visibility of Issues and are better equipped to solve them.

On our small, 10-person team, everyone reports to me so I'm still close to the work and hear about Issues firsthand in 1:1s. However, I'm not in every meeting or part of every interaction. While I talk to everyone on the team, I'm not as deep in the details of their roles as they are. I need everyone's help surfacing Issues. Then we can identify who should solve the Issue and give them the responsibility to do so without dictating how they should do it.

You must create a workplace where people feel comfortable calling out the issues that stand in the way of the Vision.

Even the best CEO or Coach can't see every problem. Each person on the team is responsible for finding, sharing, and solving Issues.

Admittedly, fixing problems isn't the sexiest work. Starting something new is often more tempting.

Coding a new feature is more fun than debugging old code. Yet, both are necessary. Both have their place. Building a new feature on top of buggy code creates a larger problem in the future. This is called "technical debt." Fixing buggy code then building a new feature is the smart way to do it but requires honesty in assessing an Issue and discipline to work in the correct order: Issues first, then opportunities.

Businesses tend toward entropy. Solving problems is necessary for holding this entropy at bay.

If you fall victim to shiny object syndrome, your business will fall victim to entropy.