top of page
  • Writer's pictureBrian Shea

Marathon runners and CEO's struggle with the "Final Mile"

We've heard marathon runners discuss how painful the final miles of a marathon can be. It is a painful 26.2 mile quest to join the "I've finished a marathon" community. Runners will often describe how they "hit the wall" and are unable to maintain the rigorous pace achieved over the previous 20+ miles. The only thing worse than the physical and emotional pain is not finishing the race. This is The Final Mile.

So what does running a marathon and being a founder-led fast growing company have in common? Over the past year, company reorganizations were commonplace. There is the need to execute the final mile of the firm's transformation following layoffs and restructuring.

As the founder-led CEO, the executive leadership team may have committed to making organizational changes to address inefficiencies or reposition the firm to address new competitive markets. Any reorg ultimately requires re-writing the strategy to achieve the multi year revenue targets. The CEO likely assembled their leadership team and created several scenarios reflected by moving people and functions around the organizational charts. Once the scenario was selected by ELT, the layoffs began. These CEOs navigated an incredibly difficult 12-18 months and now the leadership team is joining the ranks of #ViceMedia, #Lyft, #3M, #Deloitte, #Zillow, #BestBuy, #Walmart, #HylandSoftware, #Opendoor, #Shopify, #Novavax, #ParamountMediaNetworks, #AkamaiTechnologies, #Disney, #AbbottLaboratories, #JPMorganChase, #Zendesk, #Spotify, #Meta, #GoldmanSachs #NewRelic, #Ford, #Walgreens, #Microsoft in experiencing layoffs and restructuring.

The reductions in workforce are justified to address lower than expected performance, unforeseen competitive pressures and crippling inefficiencies. Remaining employees are moved into their new roles, and team communications begin to circulate touting the company benefits of improving competitiveness. Everyone will be asked to do more.....with less.

Here come the next performance pitfalls.

Fast growing firms often lack the operational rigor required to effectively understand their buyer's buying journey, specifically with the key decision makers and influencers. Pre-reorg go-to-market sales motions are likely not designed around the different buyer buying stages. The mapping of how the buyers' needs have to be the anchoring point for commercial sales org design. Without this this critical mapping, the go-to-market strategy misses the mark.

Most of these fast growing firms also have a gap in how they hire. Before the reorg and layoffs, it's likely that the previous employee skills did not fully align to their role. Now the remaining employee's skill sets likely won't match their new function either. These firms operate in a world of ad-hoc hiring practices, absent of intentional skill and competency mapping. Simple stated, there was never a formal talent strategy to replicate or coach to.

The compounding issue is that ELT used subjectivity to decide on the "make or break" personnel moves, not science. As a result, these personnel moves will not increase sales performance. Less staff. More expectations. Less revenue. Lower morale and more turnover is around the corner.

Here's how to avoid the pitfall.

Before agreeing to a new functional organization design, take an inventory of your talent. Refer back to Jim Collins' "Good to Great" and follow the guidance of ensuring you have the right people in the right seats on the bus, BEFORE determining where to drive the bus. The bus can only be effectively navigated with clarity on how the buyers buy and an agreement on the personnel "DNA" needed to effectively engage with each buyer.

Taking an inventory isn't about calculating total headcount and compensation, but an inventory mapping of each employee's skills, competencies, attributes, business acumen, and emotional intelligence. This mapping is critically important across all revenue generating functions as the post layoff sales and account management teams will be expected to close the performance gap. Warning - don't wing it, there are several customizable assessment platforms for firms to chose from.

We cover talent strategies and other critical revenue engine system designs in our recently published eBook "Red Flags in Revenue: A Guide for Private Equity". It's available at

If your revenue recovery planning has stalled, contact us at

We can help.

1 view0 comments
bottom of page