It is Time to Take Some Risks

July 9, 2020
Written Insights

The current talk track, of which I agree, is that when we look back to this period in time, we will view it as a fundamental shift in our industry and business (and frankly, overall society).

I believe those that take the time now and invoke a permission for risk into the culture of your company will come out the long term winners and will be at the forefront of not only reshaping the industry but will reap the rewards.

When it comes to innovation, especially during a recession, playing defense and being overly conservative is the wrong way to respond.

It is (measured) go time.

Deep in the legacy bones of the access control industry, innovation is done under the pretense that we need to be right 98% of the time, and we play it way too safe (jokingly some of us call it "punting on 1st down").

The period we are in right now is transformational. We need to meet it with equal force of transformational thoughts and actions.

And innovation goes beyond technical innovation. Look wide and deep: Innovate your talent mix, innovate the way you get work done, innovate in your partnerships, and innovate the way you bring products and services to market.

You have one of the worlds most substantial historical excuses to do so.

It will be a shame if we waste it.

If you don't do it for business reasons, could you do it for your team? Could you do it for your legacy? I believe if you do not invoke and inject action (or at least let it), the results will expose what in the end is weak leadership.

I applaud the companies and people seizing this opportunity now, but those examples are the outliers. I am talking to the majority here, not the minority. As an industry, we need to flip the makeup where the norm is accepting risks, and the outlier is playing it conservative. New entrants are doing it.

Please do not confuse risk with unbridled unrestrained, "put your company at risk" risk. We are so far over in the conservatism side of the pendulum that a little bit of controlled risk would be freeing. Just bring the risk meter over a little.

Here is the reality: while you cut investment, wait and play conservative, you, in turn, are creating an even more dangerous threat and risk to your business.

The danger and risk you are creating?

You are slowly losing it all. You are allowing others to lead, and when the dust settles, they will fill the void left by your absence or lack of movement.

Especially right now. You have society, not just a market but society, looking for leadership on "how to get back to work or [fill in the blank]." We have moved from a physical safety value proposition to a must-have fabric of society value proposition. Markets are moving. Now is not the time to hold on or retreat.

What does it look like when you are "playing it safe" and creating a more terminal risk for your business?

  1. You let go of your innovation team or people within your company that will help you be the company you need to be. You hold on to the people that will keep you as the company you have been.
  2. You make zero changes at the leadership table and do not embrace fresh young talent with new ideas.
  3. You decelerate funding of innovation projects and double down legacy products. Side note: do you believe your old product will satisfy these new use cases?
  4. You double down on that old technology because the operating income is good.
  5. You do not lean in on frequent communication and marketing.
  6. You hold off on new partnerships or acquisitions.

Bonus: You announce via a press release having something with Bluetooth in it or that you now support a 3rd party legacy product. Legacy product + legacy product does not equal innovation.

What does it look like when you are "taking some measured and controlled risk?"

  1. You prioritize your innovation team or people within your company that will help you be the company you need to be.
  2. You accelerate the funding of the innovation projects.
  3. You make changes at the leadership table and embrace fresh young talent with new ideas.
  4. You balance old technology (or make some hard decisions and kill them).
  5. You lead with marketing and a current voice by over-communicating.
  6. You actively pursue new partnerships. Even ones outside of the norm.

It comes down to leading through this, not managing through it.

What legacy do you want to leave?

The time is now. Send me a note and let us discuss some of the other ways we can build our appetite for risk.

Lee Odess

I've worked as an Entrepreneur and an Integrator (founded E+L+C), for a multinational billion dollar manufacturer in the lock and access control industry (Allegion), as an Executive of a start-up who pioneered the IoT/smart lock/smart physical access control industry (UniKey), and as an Executive with the first cloud based physical access control manufacturer (Brivo). I put all those years together to form a Growth Studio focused on business creation in the CRETech, proptech and smart home markets for small to large companies in the security, access control and IoT industry.

Labeled as an uber-networker by the Washington Post, Lee Odess has over 18 years starting, building and leading businesses with an exceptional track record for sales growth and marketing effectiveness.

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