I recently got my first car at the age of thirty-five this past October when I made the move to Austin, Texas. I also spent very little time in Austin before deciding to pick up my life in the middle of a global pandemic. Needless to say, but Google Maps has been a lifesaver. Fun question - how much would you pay per month for Google Maps if they decided to charge for it? I don’t know the answer, but it would be an incredibly high number for me. Ok, I digress. I’ve driven more in the past seven months than I probably have in the past five years, maybe even ten years.
One of the things that feels like magic with turn by turn directions is that it’s not simply a map, but it’s an intelligent map. The route I’m being guided on is being informed by what’s happening around me. If there is traffic building up ahead, the app will offer an option to take a different route that will save me a few minutes. Sometimes an accident, road closure, construction, or other unforeseen event will prompt the guidance to provide a temporary detour that will ultimately still get me to my desired destination. The navigation is adaptable. It’s reacting to what’s happening in the world, while never losing sight of the end goal. Getting me to where I need to go.
Working closely with founders at the early stage, a lot of conversation is centered on reaching different milestones and achieving set goals. Growing the number of customers. Reducing the churn rate. Expanding the team in a certain way. Improving conversion. Optimizing the go-to-market. All of these milestones are hopefully steps along the way to getting to the ultimate goal, building a large and meaningful company. It’s a CEO’s job to construct a plan, on a quarterly and yearly basis. The budget, the hiring plan, the product roadmap all flow from this forward planning. This is an important exercise, but at times CEO’s can become prisoners of their own plans. Plans work well on paper, but they are often tested when implemented. A good plan should serve as a guide, but when new information or demands present themselves, it’s crucial to be adaptable, and adjust accordingly. Being able to adjust when the path ahead presents obstacles is critical. When the market is changing around you, it’s on leadership to figure out a better alternative path. Rerouting mid-trip can be anxiety inducing, but it’s helpful to take comfort in the fact that you’re still driving towards the same ultimate destination, the twists and turns might just help you get there faster, and in a maybe slightly different looking car than you started the journey in.