Why I’m glad I learned to think in straight lines

What on earth is does it mean to think in straight lines and why should you care?

Well I believe that straight line thinking is essential to building a successful business – it’s the key to the transformational growth that I see in all the businesses I work with and the good news is it’s a learned skill so it’s probably worth reading on to find out why I’m glad I learned to think in straight lines and you will be too!

Linear thinking is a type of systematic and analytical thinking that is extremely powerful in planning. A linear thinker easily puts things in order and creates structure; and for years of my life it sounded like the most boring approach imaginable!

I am a sales person. A communicator. A lateral thinker. I thrive on finding creative ways to solve problems I prefer variety and a lack of routine. (I hear all the sales people reading this agreeing out loud!). I like the fly by the seat of my pants approach.

In 2001, I was given the job of running a large sales operation. This was a real challenge, particularly as there were lots of team members over various locations with some large budgets in place. The individuals in the team were all capable and had achieved some strong results, but the overall division was failing. Profits were low; repeat business was poor; and staff retention was at critical levels. This was a major turnaround job and flying by the seat of my pants wouldn’t cut this.

I had to ensure a whole community of people all embraced better ways of working. I needed to add real rigour to the customer experience – the business needed to be more efficient and quickly. It was here I learned the power and skill of thinking in straight lines.

Creating clear processes and practices enable more efficient working. Having consistent behaviours that drive the right results builds strong teams. In short, a bit of linear thinking was needed.

During this project, I learned how to turn creative ideas and performance objectives into robust processes, which were scalable and easily replicated across the teams. (I also increased turnover by 38% but that is another story). It was this learning that gave me the foundations of building consistently strong sales operations.

All the work I do and the methods I use (The Growth Framework) are based on this idea of allowing clear processes and practices to drive performance. Observing the characteristics of powerful sales teams and capturing them in a way that make them scalable. If you are not getting the growth you need could your sales habits be the problem?
Once we make great practice a consistent habit we always achieve more.

So, the key here is to use a solid framework to help you shape your success. A scalable business is one which can describe the techniques and practices that are required to drive growth and has a team of people that are living them.
This is not an easy thing to achieve unless you have a blueprint for success. And learn to think in straight lines!

Checking out our Growth Framework would certainly be an interesting place to start.

You can also view Karen discussing “how solid are your business foundations” via this video below.

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