I recently ready a book by Jim Collins called “Great by Choice”. Mr. Collins has written several other great books, of which “Good to Great” is perhaps the most famous one. In the book “Great By Choice” he talks about 10x performers – companies who have delivered extraordinary results to its shareholders over a long period of time. According to Mr. Collins, one of the keys to becoming a 10x performer is shooting bullets, not cannonballs.
What is meant by shooting bullets? It means testing out new products and services on a small scale before committing a lot of resources on these new innovations and opportunities. It sounds very simple in theory, but consider being a big company with vast resources, and virtually endless opportunities of new products and services you could bring to the market. If you have money, it’s simple to commit a lot of capital on the new product line and have the confidence that it will work out as planned. It rarely does.
What often happens is that the company has its focus off from the main business (the cash cow) and strains through the capital that has been accumulated, if each new opportunity is approached as a cannonball.
Shooting bullets means starting small, no big investments or commitments of other resources. Firing cannonballs means committing heavily, investing a lot of money and effort into untested new business segments and plans. Both are required to become a 10x performer, but they have to be done in correct order.
First, you shoot bullets. Test different ideas, collect feedback, seek traction. If any of the fired bullets gets traction and validates itself as a viable new product or service, then it’s time to crank it up and start investing money and resources (cannonball).
That’s how 10x performers have operated. Many small bullets at first, and if any of them shows promise by getting traction and positive feedback from the market (test groups), it’s time to fire cannonballs. Test, move fast, and have guts to commit once necessary.
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