EP198: Pruning the Unnecessary to Focus on Strengths
Corey and Chris continue their dicussion about inertia and constraints. How can leaders identify hidden constraints shaping their strategy? What fosters innovation: centralization or decentralization? Can classic texts offer counter-cultural wisdom to elevate leadership today? Pulling insights from ancient to modern thinkers, Corey and Chris tackle these questions and more. They argue consolidation often hinders progress while decentralization promotes healthy competition. Chris advocates "divisionalizing" to optimize strategy. They explore conquering inertia, maximizing strengths by pruning the unnecessary and structuring for change. The curiosity continues in part two of this engaging conversation in this episode, "Pruning the Unnecessary to Focus on Strengths."
Full episode transcript below:
There's been, yeah, I think with this concept of innovation in limitations, it leads to [00:33:00] I think a natural progression to the next piece that Rami had spoken about was finding customer limitations. And he had three, and you talked about one earlier that you find customer limitations through the customer eyes, through the market's eyes, and then through the product size.
And so what are your thoughts on that? Because as a sales, a leader here and as an entrepreneur, [00:33:30] certainly sometimes, and he says in order too, it should be customer market and product. But as you know, and we've talked about many times too, Hey, I built the product so I'm going to start from the product. If I build it, they will come. Because many customers don't understand the limitations. They can't foresee the reality of a product without this limitation before connect and sell came around. Certainly folks didn't complain about [00:34:00] the real limitations because they didn't know a reality without the limitation of, wait, I just press a button and I don't have gatekeepers and everything else. Or the Henry Ford, if I asked the customer what they wanted, they'd all be still driving or still riding horses. So what do you think about that with customer market and product and as far as a blueprint, if you will, to find customer limitations for innovation?
Well, I always think of it in terms of what's the unit of change? What's the cost of change? What's [00:34:30] the probability of change? So the unit of change, you got to know what's the unit of change. The customer got to change their mind, their business, their point of view, the value that they're hoping to get, what's going to change there? The market always interesting. The market is going to say, Hey, here's some alternatives. Here's ways of looking at this. Whatever my way is, they're going to have some other ones. So the unit of change is they don't go with me, they go with somebody else or they do [00:35:00] nothing. Which is the most common one. The product is the most interesting one in this regard. You can design products for change or you can design products for perfection, for great fit. And they're two different things.
So the whole idea of software is so to speak, all software products are designed for change. This is why software is eating the world. You can do tricks with software. Think of the Tesla. Teslas download new software [00:35:30] all the time, and they keep getting smarter. It's not that the car was delivered to you smart. It's that the car's getting sitting out there charging in your garage right now. So Elon Musk identified a unit of change. It was super valuable, and customers are delighted in it because it's like, wow, look at that. Well, how does the car show that it's smart? It has a big whole screen and it can show you new things on it so it can make its new smartness obvious. [00:36:00] So designing for change is hard. Nobody in design classes teaches design for change. When you're writing code. The way I've always been a fanatic, and as you know, I've been writing code since 68. I know people laugh when I say that. It's like 1868. I'm exceptionally well preserved, 1968. Sure. So maybe 1768, anticipating some events on the eastern [00:36:30] seaboard of the us. But I've been writing code for a long time. I'm not very creative when it comes to writing code. I don't like tricks. I don't like some tricky way of doing something. I did for a little bit, and then I decided, but the main way that we design code for change is just to make it readable.
To make it readable. So you could read it to your mom. So my rule always when I hire great developers is we get in a room and we do two things. One is we decide what all the words mean. All [00:37:00] the words in the business need a formal definition. They need a comparative definition. It's one of these and not one of those, right? So you have positive and negative, and it needs an extensive definition. There's an example of one and every word that we're going to use of significance, and the business goes on the whiteboard with three definitions. It generally takes about three days. Everybody is so impatient during this process. We hate you, we hate you, we hate. That's
Let's, what's a dial a connected? So we have a very, very specific definition of what a dial is. What does navigated mean when it's applied to a dial? These are very formal, tight type concepts. When somebody misuses one of those words because they're fresh to the company, they'll get corrected by the C E O, because that's the most [00:38:00] important thing is that the language we speak is within our own time domain, hyper precise. There are no colloquial terms used to describe anything that we do because the language is, the language expresses the tolerances within our machine. We want tight tolerances so we don't have sloppy action, and then we have lubrication so that it doesn't burn up. Lubrication tends to be we're funny with each other. [00:38:30] That's the lubrication is humor. You want tight language tolerances. You want something that loosens it up a little bit and cools it off because it is tight. But readability is the equivalent of readability. Is there in every product, is it easy to tell how it does what it does so that when we need to use it a little differently in a customer situation, we can without violating [00:39:00] what it is?
That is the tough part of design. And enterprise products are really unusual in this regard. They have long, long, long survivorship. I have enterprise products in the field today that I designed in 1983 that are still being used. The lock-in on enterprise products is extremely long. And so now the question is, well, do we know how it [00:39:30] works? Do we know that's not just enough to go, oh, it has this feature or this function, this trick and so forth. The constraint on change, the unit of change is somewhere inside of that. So we have a situation right now at Connected itself. It's a customer who is at the edge of B two B, and they're kind of doing some business to consumer stuff, and they need to do something really important, which is to take credit card information over the phone. Well, everybody knows that Connect and Sell is not a call center outbound system.
[00:40:00] So do we have that built in? Well, we do have something built in, and it's something that is very easy to apply in a certain way, but only across a whole organization. So now what's the unit of change? Do you take one organization and say it's two in a connect in self sense that is we divisionalized so that each one can innovate separately? Or do we say no, it's more efficient to have them together, or now I have to have more if then else kind of statements, tricks in [00:40:30] order to do one thing rather than the other, where my tendency is, which is split 'em and eat the inefficiency so that you gain the flexibility that comes from knowing how the damn thing works. But there will always be arguments on both sides and when any and all gold GRS are talking about, when they're talking about the theory of constraints, ultimately you're talking about the theory of change [00:41:00] because okay, I've identified the constraint. Now if I didn't change, what's that all about? That about, oh, fantastic, Chris, you can see it.
Yeah. He talks a lot about identifying it as this concept of the tail and the dog, where once you see tails in the world, once you're trained to see the tails in the world, just like what you had just [00:41:30] explained with the product and how you look at code, you're always in search of the dog. And so one of the examples he gave was with GoPro, the GoPro camera, and the tail was the following, the inventors, the innovators of the GoPro camera. They were already video cameras when GoPro came around, but they observed that surfers in the Southern California, Carlsbad area and the surf, they were taping, wrapping [00:42:00] their video cameras in plastic and waterproof containers to get right in the heart of the action as you're going through a tube, as you're going through getting started on the wave and take these incredible shots.
And these same folks were the same type of extreme athletes that wanted to strap 'em to the front of their mountain bike as they're going through these precarious trails and record the motion in a mere traditional Sony Handycam wouldn't do. And so they [00:42:30] jury rigged all these other protection mechanisms. And so the tail was a small group of customers who spend extensively a lot of money and effort to satisfy a specific need that they had, and what's the need that they're trying to satisfy? Well, and then is that need potentially relevant for other customers? The size of the dog, if you will. Is it a [00:43:00] big dog or is it a small dog? And then how much effort does the market, does this company, does this innovation need to do to satisfy that need? And so he says that there's oftentimes companies that have these tales that end up being a small doc.
He also said something very humorous I thought, which says a tail plus a tail plus a tail plus a tail is not a dog. [00:43:30] It's a bunch. And the example he gave on that is Botox, where Botox people, Hey, Botox, everybody wants to feel younger, but he wants to get rid of stretch lines on their face and the culture and be accepted. Or maybe it's if you're a Hollywood starch and you want to do all these things, but the limitation, the reason why it's not a dog yet, it's still a tail, is because needles, because the molecules are too big to have something that you can rub [00:44:00] or pill you take. So you still have the barrier of putting a need, and a lot of people don't want to do that. So it's not a dog yet. It's still a tail because it's ostensibly a small group still of folks who are willing to do it.
And so when you look at what your market is as Clayton Christensen, the Innovators development, you come up with this software, this weapon that folks didn't know that this limitation of getting rid of gatekeepers and voicemails [00:44:30] then even conceptualize that that could be a possibility in the world of sales. You guys created it, and that's the tail. And the dog is look at this industry that as a result of that. But do you see that? Have you experienced that tail and dog and other industries? Certainly with a lot of the clients that you deal with, you probably see it pretty often.
Yeah. I mean, I think the tail and the dog is kind of everything, and [00:45:00] you got to start with the tail and you're guessing about the dog. You got to pull the tail towards you to go, okay, how big is this dog? Or is it just a funny shaped dog that's got a big ass, but little stubby front legs?
That's right. That's right. He says, you ultimately remember you want the dog, not the tail. So if you're trying to create something, don't live in the world of trying to make the tail better. You're trying to go for the dog,
[00:45:30] Right? But you got to make the tail good enough. So I mean, if this stuff were easy, everybody would do it, right? Everybody tries it. Most people are smart enough not to do it. They recognize that 90 hours a week is a long time to work, and neglect to your family has its limits. That becomes the constraint. Actually, we call that a backend constraint,
It's over there. It's like, oh, no. Now Corey, I'm sorry. You're only allowed to have zero children and you can't interact [00:46:00] 'em because you don't have time for either one of those activities. I don't know the algorithm for that. I know that it comes like everything else. It comes down to costs and time and more time than costs. That is, you only have so much time to figure out something. And if you haven't figured it out in a certain amount of time, you have a big choice to make, which is, are you going on faith that you're going to figure it out, or are you going to go change tails, right? And try to [00:46:30] figure it out. You're
When you're stuck and you're always stuck when you're at the tail, you're just plain all stuck. Yeah, you're stuck about the dog. You might not be stuck about the tail, but Oh, look, we put this thing together and it turns out it needs a mounting capability that goes on somebody's head, and now that we have that blah, blah, blah, okay, fine, right? Oh, but that tends to slip down and get between their nose and then they hate it. And okay, we got to have another little thing that's a strap on the back. Great. We're in tail land. We're tailing it up, right? Yep. [00:47:00] Getting to this question of is it a dog, one of the issues with that is there are people who want it to be a dog. It also comes down to this, what does somebody want it to be? What do they believe that it's, and then who's willing to look at the evidence? How much does it cost to get the evidence? How much time do we have to get the evidence? And by the way, we're busy putting another strap on that damn thing, or making it a different color or using it for [00:47:30] some slightly different purpose. I actually think this is where markets take care of what we cannot, and we tend to be somewhat victimized by them. And it's also why the folks who build these incredible products are not exactly, everybody's friend.
Sure. That would help him out in any situation that he could call. No, that wouldn't happen because his genius, and I'm speculating here, but his genius was he was pretty insistent. And people who are pretty insistent have fewer friends. I insist. I insist if all you say is I insist, and then you fire people who disagree with you, well, you don't have that many friends. But I think that is sometimes as we look at all of these factors, [00:48:30] we don't take into account this fundamental human factor, which is, and we say it about salespeople. We say, oh, well, the need to be liked, that's pretty bad in a salesperson. Oh, really? And exactly. How do we go in and do surgery on somebody's soul so they no longer have a need to be liked by other human beings?
Well, it's funny you bring that up here. As we come up against the top of the hour is so this old book here, right? And [00:49:00] for those at home, it's the Tau te Ching, the book of the Way, written by our friend lasu circa what? Chris? Five, 600 bc. I think something along that a long time.
But exactly what you said, I think we're going to end on this note. This is from one of his lessons, number 27, where he calls hidden values and talk about the need to [00:49:30] be liked and the value of inherent value inside of the folks that inspire innovation. He says, good hikers need no maps. Good speakers need no scripts. Good counters need no abacus. Good guards need no locks. The wises trusting and goodness see the potential in others treating no one as an outcast, trusting, and goodness. They redeem all things. Nothing is worthless [00:50:00] to them. They recognize the real hidden value. The whys take the lost, the seemingly lost under their wings. And so the seemingly lost become newfound treasures of the wise. Each is valuable to the other. This is the significance of spirituality. And when you talk about what we've talked about with the constraints, dealing with the false negatives as well as the false positive, the exhaust, the signals, the innovation, knowing [00:50:30] what to say no to, I think that you really conceptualized exactly why connected cell is so successful, why you're such a great mentor, and all the people you've taken under your wings, the Toms of the world, and everybody in your skunkwork projects, et cetera, because nothing is lost.
All these folks have signals and exhaust that can deliver to the bigger picture. So I thought that was very, I was like, I got to find a way to bring this in. And what did you do? You brought it right home [00:51:00] to Ru. So final thoughts, Chris, on the theory constraints, Mr. Lasu, in this episode here, this fanboy episode on ROI Goldratt.
Yeah. Well, thank you ROI Goldratt for carrying on this work. It is a boulder that we never get to the top of the hill. It never, this is one of the rare things. Well, not that rare. There's a lot of things in life like this, right, where it never rolls downhill for us, where if we [00:51:30] want it, we have to push it up the hill and theory of constraints is one of those things that will never roll down the hill.
But that's the juice though, isn't it? Effort. That exercise is the juice which keeps knuckleheads like you and I still doing this over and over and over again, versus we like the occasional mi Thai in Margarita. But to me at least, I don't want to speak for you, the sage of sales here, but isn't. That's a little bit of the driving force behind it, is that that endless,
It's a huge [00:52:00] part. If it were a trivially solvable problem, it would be solved. The understanding of the theory of constraints is fairly straightforward. The acceptance of it is harder. The application of it is idiosyncratic. That's the nature of it. Every system is different from every other system in many, many ways, except for one. They all have one constraint. And so we can count to one, but that doesn't give us the answer. It just tells us we need to go look, [00:52:30] that we need to go look. And it's so difficult in a world where we must value ourselves as others value us. We don't have an alternative to that. We're not very good as a species in playing loner. Some people are better than others, but nobody's perfect at it. And so here we are in a world full of people who need to feel important with a theory of how systems work, a true theory of how [00:53:00] systems work. This is like a unified field theory. It's a done, done that basically says, most of us, most of the time just need to be carrying on, carrying on. We're not that important except to the degree that we're building flexibility for change. Change tricks, not do tricks that sit in our inventory when it's our turn.
I love that, especially the aspect of being loners. I'm glad you're not a loner, Chris. Otherwise, this would be the market [00:53:30] dominance guy versus market dominance guys. And so it's always Chris, we're going to let you get back to the fetching, miss Ucci and all the stuff that you guys do. The brilliance that you come out of your dinners and your wines and your walks and everything else in the sales world is much better for it. So for the market, Dominus guys and Chris Beal, this is Corey Frank. Until next time.
Yeah, trusting and goodness. I mean, because all your people, you think about the skunkworks project, you started how many years ago doing that, just even with Galen, the stuff that you do, right? It's like he's not classically trained as a data scientist [00:54:30] and everything. Tom's a musician for gosh sakes, and yet you trust in goodness. They redeem all things. Nothing is worthless to them. One man's trash is another man's treasure, in other words. And so, yeah, I love how counter-cultural that is. I wish it was cultural, but unfortunately it still is counter-cultural and
It'll always be. It'll always be. And the forces that move in one direction are moving at all times. Otherwise, the stuff [00:55:00] wouldn't be written thousands of years ago. And still it'd be like, oh yeah, we live in that world.
Yeah. Well, it's amazing that just even as a sales leader, this stuff is 3000 years old, nearly 3000 years old, and we still haven't figured out how to manage somebody to their utmost potential. It's like all this stuff we are talking about idiosyncratic to manage those idiosyncrasies, [00:55:30] what do you call it? Idiosyncrasies of all of us. I mean, that's marriage, that's fatherhood.
Well, it turns out that as a matter, of course, I suppose when there's complexity, when we're trying to do stuff together, there are almost no short ways. There are profound ways. There are ways that we can understand 'em when we see 'em, but [00:56:00] there's no short ways. There just aren't. And yet we have a constant striving for short ways, and we read stuff and we consult and we put something on the wall and we think that's it. But that's it. It's very different from, that's it in execution. Think of your body. 50 trillion cells have got to collaborate, and they have to collaborate hundreds of thousands of times a second in order just to have you be [00:56:30] an organism and not complain about something. Yeah, right. Exactly.
And we have such odd ideas, these odd hierarchical ideas. I'm reading an old book, 10 years old, not thousands, by this guy, Lipton. It's called The Biology of Belief, and basically the thesis of the book is pretty simple, which is book, [00:57:00] let's face it, big organisms like us, 50 trillion cell organisms have some specialization going on with regard to this nervous system that its job first and foremost is tell you when to dock. That's its real job. You ever have somebody throw a brick at your head, it'll do its job before you know that it's done its job, and then you'll tell yourself a story about how you always saw it coming. In fact, if you're still there afterwards, you saw it coming a little bit late, but you still [00:57:30] got out of the way, right? Yeah. We have this superpower, which is to control the actions of subsets of these cells right down to inside of them, how they express the genetic material they have as proteins and how those proteins are folded.
And he makes the point, the membrane of a cell is the brain. The D n A is like a recipe book, but the membrane decides what comes in [00:58:00] and what must go out under what circumstances. And that's the definition of intelligence. What do I accept in and what do I exclude? The thousand things. I exclude the one thing, and is it time to go for stuff, or is it time to protect myself? Wow. What circumstances I find myself in, I've got 50 trillion cells right now, and so that are each working on that principle at this moment with little proteins that can fold and unfold a thousand times a second. So to think that we kind [00:58:30] of get it and reduce it to an aphorism on the wall, that aphorism might make us think in a way that is good according to us, which is probably as far as it goes, and according to people that the other organisms that we hang with you and me together and so forth, the influence is not small. We think. It's not like, oh, it's a miracle that our subconscious [00:59:00] mind controls the expression of whether we heal from a cut. That's a miracle. No, that's actually the only way it could be. Actually wouldn't work another way. There's not like, well, your finger is not detached from you. If I cut off my finger, then cut my finger, it doesn't heal itself.
Yeah. Lipton is kind of a crazy radical guy. He is a molecular, he's not a molecular biologist, cell biologist in some sense. He's out there until you really think about it. Then you go, no, actually, this is the most commonplace way to understand things.
Exactly. So anyway, I'm finding Lipton be desire, really fun to read and meaningful, and [01:00:30] kind of gets me doing different things, which is I think what we need from others is like, get me unstuck a little bit. I find myself repeating myself.
Yeah, no, no, I agree. Chris. No, this is such great stuff. It's such great stuff. I'm going to send this to Rami and this episode I told him that, hey, you probably got two guys in the States here who probably talk about you more than they should, and so [01:01:00] I'll send this. So he was interested in that. So I'll send him this episode here when we post on LinkedIn, et cetera, and see how he responds. But great stuff as always. How's business otherwise good?