I had just transferred from the audit practice to the consulting practice of an international accounting firm. Already a partner in the firm, this was a total change of career for me. The first week of my new assignment I accompanied John, my new supervisor, to visit the CEO of a major academic medical center. We were implementing a new strategy for their business, and the CEO had questions – “How much market share are we going to gain if this is implemented? Will the market share gains pay for your fees?” Logical questions we should be prepared to answer. The problem for me was that I had no experience in answering this type of question, and it was one that we could not “know” the answer to – I was dealing with two unknowns:
I was terrified. Here I was – a “consulting partner”. I was supposed to have answers. I had not answered a question on market share since my economics class in college. How could I think about this and answer the question so that I would not look like an idiot?
I began to think. I knew that gaining market share is hard. There were several competitors in the market and that it would be a battle to get patients from them, so the number really could not be that big. I took a deep breath, wrote an answer, and put it on the table. Interestingly, all our answers were within a very small range of market share gains!
That experience was years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. Why? What really happened that day?
Most teams today deal with challenges and problems they haven’t seen before. They are called on to help businesses move forward in new business models and environments while dealing with new challenges. As you and your team face the ambiguity in these situations, remember to:
Susan Rucker is a seasoned executive with over thirty years of progressively responsible positions managing high performance teams and growing businesses. Her current focus is helping businesses and people navigate the rapidly changing business environment we all face today.
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