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Adii Pienaar

Now working on Receiptful. Founder & ex-CEO of WooThemes. Author of Brandiing. New Dad. Ex-Rockstar.

Unanticipated & Unexpected

I've come to the conclusion that some good things in business are totally unanticipated & even more so - unexpected.

Regardless of how big my ego is and how I rate myself as a strategist, visionary & leader within my company, some things are the results of the unknown and not my (or anyone on my team's) doing. At least not consciously.


Here's an example:

Two weeks ago we switched WooThemes' support helpdesk to use Zendesk instead. Within a week, our support numbers, capacity & performance were under control (in stark contrast to previous months where we struggled to maintain things sustainably).

Having investigated this and having accounted for all of the quantifiable variables (i.e. has the number of support tickets created by customers dropped?), I can say that everything is pretty much 99% the same. So whilst there's obvious advantages that we've gained from switching to Zendesk (if they weren't there, we would not have switched), there's nothing obvious to account for this sudden and significant change.


My point here is: a) yes, we made the decision to switch our helpdesk platform; and b) we obviously anticipated - and hoped for - an improvement; but c) the extend to which things have improved has been completely unexpected.

So whilst I'd love to give myself kudos as a CEO's job well-done, I'm cautious to take credit for the things that I can't quantify and that I never planned for.


This experience got me thinking about this quote that a friend mentioned to me in discussion the other day:

"Strategy isn't always about what you do. Sometimes strategy is all about what you don't do."

As entrepreneurs & business owners, we're epitomise the DIY approach of getting things done, making our own rules and creating our own reality in the process. To reward ourselves, we pat ourselves on the back when things work out, because that success can be directly attributed back to our efforts.

I most certainly do. Heck, I'm quite anal & controlling about many things in my business and as such, I try influence most of our activities (sometimes over-doing that too). So when things are going well, I want the credit.

What this recent experience taught me though, is that I'm only the curator of a framework, within which awesome things can happen. Some results - good and bad - will always be unexpected, unanticipated and frankly unwanted.

My challenge as a curator thus is to ensure that 51% of all things that happen within this framework leads to a positive result.

And not to take credit for absolutely everything.

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