It’s been a blessing my whole life… or a curse, depending on how you look at it… to have a last name that enables constant metaphors and jokes. I can’t tell you all of the ones that my friends have used over time, because that wouldn’t be of interest to you but it does segue nicely into the purpose of this article.
Recently, when discussing my advisory services with a colleague, he made the observation that I “help Hunters think like Farmers, and Farmers think like Hunters.”
Perhaps… So what does that mean?
When you think about a Hunter, you think about a lone person or small group. Think of those small, lean companies, often startups or entrepreneurial ventures. They are on their own, hunting for their own food. Maybe it’s for dinner… maybe it’s for sport. Regardless, Hunters operate with short term thinking and narrow focus. Fighting to live another day. Little to no delineation between urgency and importance – everything is urgent.
When you think about a Farmer, you think BIG BUSINESS. Think of those large, established organizations and corporations. Operating on a larger scale; employing workers; harvesting crops that were long ago planted. Farming is a big production and cyclical. It takes more people to run, it’s systematic and it’s part of a larger mission and long term plan.
Why is it critical to help small companies think big, and help big companies act small?
Orgagility is at the core of this thinking.
Throughout my time advising both Hunters and Farmers, I’ve noticed a pattern of gaps in the orgagility framework on both sides. Where do those gaps generally fall?
It’s important to note that this is a generalized view and not representative of all organizations. Every company has to be assessed in order to ensure the right component of the orgagility framework is addressed.
Underpinning the Hunter and Farmer dual-focus is my experience in leading the Chicago Tribune, where we operated for two decades in constant start-up mode at scale as the publishing landscape went through unprecedented disruption. We were considered leaders in transforming our company and evolving our business model. One of the key reasons for this was our focus on being Chicago’s preeminent news and information source. Be big, but think and act small.
Big companies can all too easily lose their agility, energy and ambition… by getting into the routine operations and failing to reevaluate strategy at pivotal moments. The upside of being big and profitable is obvious…the downside is it can lead to complacency and risk averse behavior.
Conversely, today for an ambitious disruptor like Revolution, I am applying the same approach to building sustainable big business thinking and operational excellence as the Chairman of the Board.
Small companies need to operate with a strategy in place that will allow them to capitalize on opportunities through exceptional execution and a maniacal focus on planning. This thinking and framework creates urgency on the right initiatives and creates momentum…which leads to a sustainable business model.
Within my advisory services, I help both Farmer and Hunter organizations fill in their orgagility gaps.
How can Farmers become aligned on a vision and mission, develop a culture of speed and action and revive their competitive and innovative nature? And how can small Hunter companies curate inspiring leadership teams that hold each other and the agile team accountable?
I look forward to sharing the strategies and frameworks I use to help Hunters think like Farmers, and Farmers think like Hunters. I hope you will find the lessons I have learned over years of experience on both sides valuable to your business, wherever you fall between a Hunter or a Farmer.