Wild Horse Management
Updated: Sep 13
Having started and managed a business that went through more than one phase of rapid growth, I recently read a short Zen story that resonated:
"A horse suddenly came galloping quickly down the road. It seemed as though the man had somewhere important to go.
Another man, who was standing alongside the road, shouted, "Where are you going?" and the man on the horse replied,
"I don't know! Ask the horse!"
During our 20 years from startup to exit, we twice went through several years of 40%+ per annum compound annual growth as we built a multi-million Pound business. During those years, it was often all one could do to 'keep up' by problem-solving and fire-fighting. Management often focused purely on keeping systems working, liquidity, and hiring. We were trying to stay on the horse! Of course, we felt brilliant about 'our strategy' delivering such tremendous results.
Business experience and meditation have taught me that nothing is permanent, so it is essential to keep analysing the business and the markets you serve. Nobody wants to believe that a rainy day is coming, but the one thing you can be sure of in life is that everything changes. Senior management should always make time for a regular strategy review that challenges even the most fundamentally held assumptions about the business, even when all appears to be going well.
Having an external adviser with business experience can help you avoid a total focus on the good news and being blind to risks and changing conditions. It's exciting and gratifying to ride the horse at speed until it comes to a sudden halt in front of a cliff! Best to keep monitoring where you are going!