Taking a step back (WWBD)

Posted by Dave CollinsGeneral

I recently stumbled across a great source of practical, qualified and tailored advice for our company. He knows our business like no-one else, is an expert in his field, always has time for us, and is completely free. (Despite the publishing date of this post, this is not an April Fool’s Joke.)

Aaron and I recently had our annual get-together, where we carved out a few days to look at some of the bigger issues of our business and to plan the year ahead.

When we do this each year, magic happens. I don’t know if it’s because of the face-to-face real interaction (Aaron typically flies to the UK for this), or because we set time aside from the day-to-day practicalities of running our business. But it works, and most of our biggest successes over the years began in these meetings.

But there’s a problem. We often get stuck in a rut, and start to obsess over some of the minor issues and practicalities, instead of making progress on the bigger picture.

So this year we somehow came up with this two-pronged approach for maintaining our focus.

The first was that we kept reminding ourselves to take a step back. It’s too easy to get sucked into the nitty-gritty and minor details, and when this happens, the flow of ideas and creativity can come to a juddering halt.


The second thing involved taking this idea even further. At the risk of sounding slightly deranged, we repeatedly called on a totally fictitious and slightly ruthless consultant who we named Bertie. (I honestly don’t know why.)

We kept asking what would Bertie say? For instance when we were looking at some of the more time consuming processes that take up our working hours, Bertie (who quite enjoys being blunt) would ask “obvious and reasonable” questions that an outsider might ask. “Why are you doing this when you could outsource it?“. “Why do you do that at the most productive time of your day?“. “You really spend that much time on this? Do you think that’s using your time wisely?” and so on.

Bertie was (actually is) more than just a devil’s advocate. He doesn’t only take the opposing view, he digs, probes and questions everything that we do. And it’s incredibly useful.

Bertie has already become an important member of our team, and as silly as the idea might seem, he might well prove to be equally useful for your company too.

Give Bertie a try. He’s free, understands your business and really does help bring some important issues to light.

As yourself: What Would Bertie Do?

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