What Can Birds Teach Us About Running a Business? Make Your Company a Profit Generation Machine by Thinking Like an Eagle and Acting Like a Hummingbird

What Can Birds Teach Us About Running a Business? Make Your Company a Profit Generation Machine by Thinking Like an Eagle and Acting Like a Hummingbird

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How are an Eagle or Hummingbird Different?

An eagle, the majestic animal that serves as our national bird and a symbol we revere, can certainly invoke a lot of positive emotions. In fact, many use it as a metaphor for freedom, independence, adventure, courage, valor, and confidence. The hummingbird on the other hand is often seen as a cute little bird that pecks at flowers.

They appear to differ dramatically as it relates to their characteristics. A hummingbird is actually a marvel of creation; it can fly in tight spaces, hover in one spot, and turn on a dime. It flaps its wings 50 to 70 times a second, has a heart that can beat thousands of times per second and has the ability to generate more energy per unit of body weight than most other animals.

The eagle on the other hand, imposing as it is, needs a lot of space to fly, doesn’t have as much endurance as the hummingbird and actually has to depend on natural wind patterns called thermals to keep it flying for long periods of time.

These two serve as a good reminder that exterior appearances don’t tell the whole story.

So which one should a company emulate?

We believe that the answer is both!

While it’s vital to have the characteristics of an eagle to inspire and motivate, it’s equally important to be able to move quickly and use resources efficiently like a hummingbird. So how do you do it?

icube™ to the Rescue

The answer lies in PCS Insight’s framework of Inspiration, Intelligence, and Intensity:

At its core, a company should operate like an eagle with lofty goals, an outsized vision, and greater purpose, which will drive its Inspiration,

Looking at the surrounding layer, or the company’s Intelligence, it ought to behave as a hybrid–implementing the strategic qualities of an eagle, and the quick learning and nimbleness of a hummingbird.

Finally in its outer most layer, which we call Intensity, companies need to behave like a hummingbird with highly effective and efficient execution.

Forgive the pun (or not), but honestly looking at your organization through the 3 I’s: Inspiration, Intelligence, and Intensity will be certain to help your company soar!

Click below to learn more about icube™.

The Three Rings of Excellence

The Three Rings of Excellence

Who is an investor?

To us, an investor in a business could be described as any person or entity interacting with a company in some way. Founders and leaders put in time, energy, and often capital, employees and suppliers put in time and attention, customers invest with their attention and purchasing dollars, and financial investors put in capital. They are all investing something of value in it. All of these are stakeholders and potentially have an interest in the long-term viability of a company. But how do companies ensure that future success?

When you learn how to analyze a company for investment, one of the first things you look at is the financial statements including:

  • the income statement which tells you how profitable a company is for a duration of time (typically a month, quarter, or year) and…
  • the balance sheet which is a representation of the assets, liabilities, and net worth at a selected point in time. It shows how a company has secured capital, used it, and how much value it has created in the process. It’s like a medical report and can be used to diagnose problems… and finally…
  • the cash flow report which uses information from both these statements. It cuts through the BS and tells it like it is— did the company generate cash or not?

Financial statements unfortunately can be hard to get a hold of— private companies don’t give those out just because you ask them. And just because you have financial statements doesn’t mean that they are accurate and compiled correctly. More importantly, the information in financial statements is historical and of limited value in being able to predict the future of the company. In other words it’s a lagging indicator. What we need is a leading measure or indication of success and value generation.

That’s where the icube™ framework comes into play.

When we look at a company, an organization or a team, what we see generally, is how it works. Does it play well? Are the team members working well together? Is work being done efficiently and with high quality? Are customers being served well and are they satisfied? In other words we are seeing the execution of the company or what we call “Intensity” in icube™. The financial statements put execution in terms of numbers and tells us How the company is doing.

But execution isn’t automatic. Excellent execution only results when there is a well thought out and time-tested strategy that works. A compelling and validated strategy clearly identifies a constituent or customer, a clear understanding of what they need and their drivers, a service or product that meets those needs for a reasonable cost, a team that can deliver the product or service, infrastructure and processes that facilitate the delivery, and a set of objective measures to know if the strategy is working and if it needs fine-tuning. The strategy is what the company does and referred to as “Intelligence” in icube™.

Strategies however are the external reflection of a deeper source within the organization. Strategies may need to be changed if external conditions change. And when that happens only companies that are guided by a clearly defined purpose are able to do so effectively. The purpose which guides the vision and mission of the team, and its values help foster trust at all levels of the team, enables its members to understand Who they are, and form its culture or, in icube™ terms, “Inspiration”.

So while financial information shows us the execution of the organization and how it has already performed, we need insight into its strategy and culture to get a handle on how it will perform in the future. Only companies and teams that strengthen all three rings of Inspiration, Intelligence, and Intensity can continue to reinvent themselves, adapt to external situations, and generate value for their stakeholders and investors.

10 Essential Questions All Leadership Teams Should Ask Of Themselves

10 Essential Questions All Leadership Teams Should Ask Of Themselves

Organizations, similar to us humans, are like living organisms that need sustenance and care to flourish.  And depending on where each are in their development, ‘life’ is experienced and shaped by their external situations: markets, economy, and political conditions, and their internal states: thoughts, emotions, and attitude.

In his seminal paper, “A Theory of Human Motivation”, the psychologist Abraham Maslow describes five motivational stages of human development from Survival to Self-Actualization.  Businesses go through very similar stages.

In the startup phase, the motivation is survival: getting the next sale or ensuring that customers already secured are kept happy.  If a company survives this stage, some semblance of repeatability and structure begins to form.  In subsequent stages growth accelerates and eventually it becomes a self-sustaining entity.  Organizations like the Edward Lowe Foundation are dedicated to helping companies in this second-stage of growth. Getting to this point can certainly be very fulfilling and rewarding for entrepreneurs.

While this journey can be very exciting, it can also be harrowing. Companies don’t start out with a well-documented owner’s manual and founders and leadership teams must make many decisions along the way to ensure that growth is carefully managed and executed.  The biggest challenge every leadership team has is deciding how to best use precious resources and manage the complexity of growth.

This complexity has the potential to destroy value and can also suck energy and enthusiasm out of the whole team.  Unchecked it can lead to poor execution and stifled growth.  Fortunately, simplicity – not to be confused with ease – is the antidote to complexity.  And so, though we can’t create an owner’s manual for you, we can offer you 10 questions all entrepreneurial leadership teams and founders should ask of themselves.  Honest answers to these questions will provide valuable insight on where your company is and what it needs to focus on in order to flourish.