Finding the Right ‘Tool’ for Your Business

There are a lot of business consultants and nearly as many solutions for “fixing” a struggling organization. As the leader, once you’ve developed a healthy relationship with feedback, you need to ask yourself: what’s the right tool for you?

The best tool will fit your company’s current needs, its stage of life, your ideal level of detail, the community and resources associated with the tool, and your desired outcome.

Stage of Life

As a business searching for a core alignment tool, you are in one of three categories: starting out, stuck, or striving.

  • Starting out: You’re relatively new to business, and more willing to change direction to make progress. Your business model is fluid, and the main question that runs through your mind is “How are we going to survive?”
  • Stuck: Business units or members of your team are going in different directions. Your business moves forward based on inertia, and changing direction takes a lot of effort. Deep down you know something isn’t quite right.
  • Striving: Leadership questions if the business is on course. You are willing to learn new techniques and you want to make it easier to hire more high performers to help reach your goals faster.
Level of Detail

Do you like a broad framework? Or do you crave reconciled details and structure? Some systems are designed for engineer personalities that crave a high level of detail. Other tools provide the broad strokes.

Size of the Community

Some tools are used by a lot of companies, and they regularly meet to share ideas and best practices. Some have a growing group of coaches who can help you. Others have a very small community with few resources.

Your Desired Outcome

Do you want to build an amazing team to lead for the long term, or are you trying to work your way out of a job? Do you want to sell the company? Do you want your leadership team, or all of your employees to feel like they have a stake in the outcome?

The Next Step: Choosing Your Tools

By understanding your situation, you’re better able to find the business alignment tools that work for you. Below are examples of core alignment tools suited to your business depending if you’re starting out, stuck, or striving.

Starting-Out Tools

Your business is still forming. You wonder if you are headed in the right direction. You need a blueprint to build a successful business while you are making a living inside it.

  • The E-Myth by Michael Gerber focuses on learning how to work on your business, not in it. It discusses the process of designing a business that is repeatable.
  • Built to Sell by John Warrillow assesses whether you have a business you can sell. His concept is to create a business that can thrive and that is valuable without you. You focus your strengths on what is scalable.
Stuck Tools

Once you do have a strong relationship with feedback, small successful steps are important to get unstuck so that you can begin moving toward a striving mindset.

  • The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni is a tool to diagnose the health of an organization. This book is applicable to all companies, at all stages. At its core are six basic questions whose answers can be used to align an organization toward healthy growth.
  • Mastering the Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish identifies 10 behaviors of successful businesses. It is ideal for a stuck company because you can take one habit at a time, implement it, and get it right before adding the next habit.
  • Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) — Traction is a core alignment tool designed to give a company “traction” toward achieving its goals. It has six understandable pieces to get a business to run well.
Striving Tools

At this stage, you are ready for concepts and insights that might require some effort to grasp, and you are willing to struggle for valuable insight.

  • Scaling Up is the evolution of the original Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. Scaling Up needs a detailed striver as a leader. It works best when all of the members of the leadership team want to push themselves to implement a comprehensive blueprint for growth.
  • The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack is the system developed and implemented by a company with no choice but to figure out a way to survive.

With all the leadership options out there, it’s easy to freeze when your business is stuck. Once you can analyze your situation and what you need, selecting the right alignment tool – one catered to your organization’s needs – is a simple process.