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The Four Cycles Between the Black Holes

9th Jun 2016

By Darren Shirlaw, Co-Founder of Shirlaws.

In my previous article I outlined the predictable black holes any business can fall into if they don't plan ahead accurately enough. This article describes the four cycles between black holes and where to focus if you want to jump.


The same four cycles – points where investment is needed – occur between black holes. Each cycle requires an important but subtle infrastructure change. To show how these cycles operate lets focus on growing a business from 700m to 4bn.




The first cycle after a black hole (in this case the 700m black hole) is always a sales issue.


To support the sales cycle a business needs to have in place 3 things – solution selling, sales tools and campaigns. Most organisations will have well established sales teams and sales expertise in place yet it's the way and support to these sales teams that make the difference in this cycle.  




The second cycle after the black hole is always a channel issue. The mistake many businesses make in channel is to extend channels to market through extending the markets they operate in i.e. overseas expansion. This is a hugely difficult strategy to get right there are less resource and investment intensive strategies that be employed to extend channels to market ahead of over seas expansion.




The third cycle is always a product line issue, whether design, architecture or extension.


Some businesses that are focused on innovation and R&D have product design expertise. Those that don't tend to focus on ‘tweeking’ and refining existing products or expanding through ‘logical’ product extension rather than extend through understanding their unique business assets.  




The fourth cycle is brand because at this point its lagging behind the size of the business. Brand doesn't get updated until very late in the cycle by which time it is very out of sync with the organisation and its markets.



These four cycles – points requiring investment – always occur in the same order (sales, channel, product, brand) after a black hole.


In the next article I’ll suggest ways to avoid the common tendancy to creep the business forward rather than jump.  



To hear Darren Shirlaw explain the detail behind these concepts attend his sessions in the Shirlaws room at the International Festival of Business CXO event on 23rd June. 


Darren Shirlaw, Co-Founder of Shirlaws.

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