You know what freaks me the fuck out? Business horror stories. They freak me ooooooout.
I recently read a long-ass expose in Fast Company about the spectacular flame-out of electric car company Better Place. I can’t say there was a lot in there that reminded me of MFF. But even so… (shiver)
I have a weird fascination with companies that got it really right, then really blew it. In Great By Choice, the authors discuss something they call “productive paranoia,” a useful characteristic in avoiding business decline. The good news is I’m pretty sure I have a major case of this.
I know MFF is going well NOW, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? I obsessively study business failures. It literally gets me choked up to hear that the former of employees of Peoples Jet have get-togethers and reunions.
I’m all about StevenPressfield/ Seth Godin leaning into potential failure. But I don’t have a failure fetish. The motherfucking UNICORNS are on the line.
I think SPIDE is helpful here. Search, Predict, Identify, Decide, Execute. Just like driving. I do my best to constantly scan the horizon for disruption to what we’re doing at MFF. I still maintain building an incredible culture is some of the best insurance you can have to help your business survive all sorts of shit.
But you never know. If you have a business big or small, you better keep your eyes peeled every fucking day for advances in technology, no matter what industry.
We’ll probably be adding in heart rate monitors sooner rather than later. But we could get even tekkie sexier with by tracking heart rate variability as well…
If you’re in the fitness biz, you probably aware of heart rate variability training. (Non-fitness folks, this is basically a sophisticated way of measuring recovery and preparedness to push for new gains in various fitness qualities.) It looks like a new version is being launched that will allow you to use this in group settings. I can’t quite tell if MFF would benefit from it just yet as the application is mainly for improving athletic performance, but you can bet your ass I’ll be looking into it.
Do we NEED this particular innovation? I’m not sure. Will the Ninjas give a shit one way or the other? Probably not? Will we lose potential Ninjas who want a facility with heart rate monitoring, even though there aren’t many similar style facilities that actually use it? Possibly? Can we get better results for the Ninjas’ goals (mainly fat loss, muscle gain, general health)? Maybe? Will any incremental improvements in results for the general population be enough to warrant a potentially epic investment for a facility of our size? Maybe?? Will this actually fuck us up and add an unnecessary expense and layer of complication to our operations without the appropriate return on the investment in fun, results, and business success? Maybe???
Wanna do a useful thought experiment? Do what Brian Tracy calls a “pre-mortem.”
Write a short analysis of why your business closed in two to five years. Chilling, but useful. This also scales to any business, whether you’re part of a large company, or you’re a micropreneur.
In MFF’s case, I think we will run into trouble if either “ridiculous human” or “serious fitness” starts to edge the other out. If we’re not having an incredible amount of fun EVERY SINGLE DAY, we’re fucking up. Teaching people to breath effectively is important, but not if people are fucking miserable, bored, and confused. At the same time, if we’re not always looking to stay abreast of advances in training and nutrition, while looking to continue to improve the caliber of our coaching and training systems, we could get surpassed in the results department (not to mention lose our credibility in the industry).
Consequently, to my mind, there should always be some tension between the two. Part of my job is to referee (and encourage) the ongoing tension, and make sure we’re doing our best to push both gas pedals. Of late, I’ve realized it means making sure people can fucking fight about it in a safe, non-personal way. This is important because A) it means everyone feels heard and doesn’t harbor shit they’re not saying publicly to each other and B) we’ll straddle the line more effectively if we’re having quality impassioned discourse about it.
Now this is of course just one “threat.” There’s also the danger of expanding too far outside our knowledge base and making a serious misstep and investment into an industry or service without a protected downside. Or we could grow so quickly we lose our obsessive customer service, or dilute our culture. And there’s always what I don’t know I don’t know; threats I don’t even know exist.
That’s why I’m gonna do my best to keep on SPIDEing the shit out of the landscape.
Now I want you to leave a comment so I can learn from you.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the pre-mortem. Give that a shit a try. Learn anything? Any action steps you’re gonna take because of what you’ve learned?
Any Ninjas/ MFF team members/ MFF fans want to take a stab at an MFF premortem?
How about business horror stories? Have any to share and keep my ass up at night?