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Don't swim so hard – Fish where the fish are

Finding the transition between fast water (commoditized market) and the pool of innovation


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Runoff season is about over on the Front Range of Colorado, so fly-fishing season is ramping up. My recent feeble attempts at fishing the big water (when the snowmelt comes screaming down the canyons) were mostly frustrating. I don’t know why this analogy hit me, but while trying to maintain my balance in the raging water when casting to a relatively quiet spot near the far bank (with little luck) I thought: This is like trying to play tennis in a snowstorm.

Trout dislike fast water. They have to swim like hell just to stay still and wait for food to come by — literally swimming upstream. They do, however, like quiet spots near fast-moving water where they can snatch up food moving downstream without expending much energy. Sort of the equivalent of having your sweetie grab you a beer and nachos while you sit on the couch.

OK, here it comes — the transition from fish, beer and nachos to business. Too many of us try to lead our businesses by swimming midstream, expending more metaphorical calories trying to move ahead (or even stay still!) than we’re finding from the food available.

Yup, we’re dumber than fish!

If you’re looking for great ideas to grow your business by swimming in midstream, try finding the transition between the fast water (commoditized market) and the quiet pool of innovation and adjacencies.

Strategy is about being different, not swimming harder.

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Todd Ordal

Todd Ordal is president of Applied Strategy®. Todd helps CEOs achieve better financial results, become more effective leaders and sleep easier at night. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000. Todd is the author of Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing, 2016). Connect with Todd on LinkedIn, Twitter, call 303-527-0417 or email todd@toddordal.com.

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