I know this will age me, but in the early 90’s; I was really into Tom Peters‘ books, and was often quoting from “in Search of Excellence” and “Thriving on Chaos”. (Also liked “The Pursuit of WOW” a lot). While I had been in “management” for a while, this was primarily as I was beginning my entrepreneurial career, and I was into encouraging philosophies such as “support fast failure” and “extraordinary responsiveness”. I was also promoting the motivational aspects of “ownership mentality” and “everybody does everything”. It was certainly during this time (and many times subsequently) that I would use the phrase “light on your feet” relative to business. A little research notes that phrase continues to be well used in business. While those books were written 15-16 years ago, I believe much of it is still relevant. I must admit I’ve slowed my reading; but the world is certainly continuing to change rapidly; and “keeping up” definitely requires a business to be flexible, willing to change, and “light on your feet”.
We have been working diligently to do that at MOS. Beginning rather basically with medical transcription in 2002; we have continually embraced new technologies and added new services (and new ways to deliver the old service). Perhaps our best example of adding new services (as well as embracing internet technology) is the now 6 (count em) web sites we have. Each of these sites contains information about a full line of outsourcing solutions; although some emphasize different areas. I noted the full list in my article “You Want to Outsource What“? We continue to look at and add (when were ready) new solutions as the company continues to expand. Rajeev and I both consider new product development as part of our job.
We all work every day to stay flexible and light on our feet. On a daily basis, decisions are made regarding clients, vendors, employees, proposals, support issues, etc; with the intent of finding the best solution for all involved parties. The best way to accomplish this (in our humble opinion) is an attitude of “outside the box” as well as a deep regard for our values. These attitudes keep us grounded and not hung up on any black and white issues. The best way to take care of customers is to be willing to make adjustments, etc., on the fly. This is our M.O.
Yet, we constantly write and tweak a “strategic plan” for growth; that tends to include multiple years. I also know vividly that the guys who now run Kruse & Associates are really into “controlled growth”. (I feel controlled growth probably deserves its own article, stay tuned); but for now, how fast is too fast? is a constant issue for owners, management etc.; the balance of risk and reward, etc. So, can we do both at the same time? Of course, in fact good business demands it.
It is of course, the old adage(s) of micro vs. macro, the “forest and the trees”, and the “30,000 foot view” vs. “in the trenches”. While all businesses need both (fortune 500 types have specialists in each category; (some CEO’s look from much higher than 30,000 feet)), us small(er) businesses tend to wear both hats.
Since this is an article for public consumption, this is not the place to talk specifics on how we manage this for MOS. But, I would like to give the reader the sense that we are doing both; and that the growth of MOS is both “flexible” as well as “strategically planned”. In fact, as I write this (early July 2010) Rajeev is in India; laying groundwork for parts of that plan.
For perspective, in the most current strategic plan we have put to writing (May 2010) has: “MOS is poised in markets with growth potential. I believe we are in a position to make some “investments” into our future growth. So the question is what investment(s) will offer the best bang for the buck? What is the best way to manage that “investment”? As in the past, my biggest “suggestion” is more time for “management”. When are in the trenches, I believe that loses us some opportunity to step back, think, plan, reflect on things, and change policy level stuffthat may/could make a difference.”
Ok, enough divulging of our “secrets”; but you get the idea that the very essence of this article is alive and well at MOS, as I suspect it is in many/most businesses. Managing it is the key. Hopefully, if nothing else, by writing about it, you know we are cognizant and working to find the right balance. You can rest assured that the comment on “what’s the best investment” is followed up with concrete ideas and plans.
The strategic plan, as noted, covers multiple years. Goals and plans to achieve them are more detailed for the next 12 to 18 months, with annual goals beyond that. (Right out of the MBA handbook, right?) We have sales goals, product line goals, as well as bottom line goals, for at least five years; and roughly beyond that. We and our employees have a good idea of the road ahead, and to a large extent, participate and “own” those goals.
All this brings me back to Tom Peters and “think like an owner” and “everybody does everything”. We hope and expect, when you call MOS , you are greeted like we care and we will be flexible and light on our feet, to take care of you NOW because you are important to us; but at the same time you are treated like you are part of our future; because you are.