“The shortest distance between two points is under construction.” – Leo Aikman

Getting from A to B always seems so simple until you encounter the devil in the details. We learn in B school that profits come from high the start line on the roaddemand, meeting customer needs, low costs, effective sales and flawless delivery. Of course when things are working and profits are flowing, these things are often in place. What makes us think that’s all that’s in place?

Look harder.

Plenty of businesses have those things in place and still find profitability challenging. Other businesses have plenty of profits and plenty of excess, employee and customer dissatisfaction and other things out of whack according to B school formulas.

So when you’re at point A and the direct path to profits is blocked, look past the B school formulas. Find a path to C (or D or F) from which the way to B is open.

What indirect line can you draw on your strategy map to get to profits faster?

For example, I love this story about how Alcoa’s CEO Paul O’Neill dumfounded investors by prioritizing C – workplace safety – to create “habitual excellence” in the employee base. He declared that the company would have zero tolerance for workplace mishaps that cost people their well being or their lives, and began developing an organizational habit to empower everyone in the company to help reach that goal. His crazy plan ended up empowering more than just workplace safety habits and in a short few years Alcoa’s engaged and empowered employees were producing dramatically fewer workplace injuries and dramatically more profits.

Dumb like a fox, O’Neill was.

What path to C are you overlooking? What indirect line can you draw on your strategy map to get to profits faster?

Like any good explorer, you may have to send out scouts to map the way ahead. Try a pilot program, experiment with different strategies until you find one that works. Whatever you do, stop battling the devilish details blocking your way and take a step back to strategize a better way. It may look crazy to outsiders, but if you know your business, crazy just might work.

Photo credit: HERE