The Next Prime Directive – Software-Based Recurring Revenue

If you know how what the system wants to be when it grows up, you can work in this line of evolution with 100% impunity.  In that way, the key to success is learning how to see what the system wants to be when it grows up; learning to see where it wants to go; learning to see what it likes to do; learning to see what it wants to achieve; learning its disposition.

What do systems want?  Well, for business systems, here’s a hint: Business systems seek top-line growth (increased sales revenue).

When you align your work with what the system seeks (top-line growth) roadblocks mysteriously remove themselves out of the way. No one will know why, but the right things will happen. Don’t believe me that roadblocks will disappear? For your next proposal, build it around top-line growth and use “top-line growth” in the title, and see what happens.  I bet I know what will happen and I bet you will get approval.

Assess the system to learn what is missing. Then, create a proposal to fill the vacuum. Or, better yet, fill the vacuum.  Do you need to ask for permission? No. Do you need formal approval? No. Is it okay to work outside your formal domain of responsibility? Yes. Is it okay if you encroach on other teams’ areas of responsibility? Yes.  Is it okay if people disagree? Yes. And why is that? Because the vacuum is blocking the path to top-line growth. And why is that a big deal? Well, because the Leadership Team is measured on top-line growth and they think it’s skillful to unblock the path to Nirvana.  And why is that?  Well, because they are judged on and compensated for top-line growth. And, because they told the Board of Directors they’d deliver top-line growth. And if there’s one thing a Leadership Team doesn’t want to do is to break a commitment to the Board of Directors.

Here’s a rule: When your work creates top-line growth, you don’t need to ask for approval.  You just need to go faster.

Here’s another rule: When you help the Leadership Team deliver on its commitment to the Board of Directors to deliver top-line growth, your career will thank you.

There are different flavors of top-line growth, but the best flavor is called “recurring revenue”. This is when customers commit to a monthly payment. Regardless of what happens, they make the monthly payment.  Think Netflix and Amazon Prime. Month in and month out, customers pay every.  And you can plan on it. And the revenue you can count on is much more valuable than the revenue that may come or may not.  And though they don’t know how, this is why companies want to do software as a service (SaaS). And for those that don’t can’t figure out how to do SaaS, the next megatrend will be hardware as a service (HaaS). It won’t be called HaaS, rather it will be called RaaS (Robotics as a Service), machines as a service (Maas), and AaaS (Automation as a Service).  But, since AaaS sounds a lot like ASS, they’ll figure out a different name.  But you get the idea.

And the new metric of choice will be Time to Recurring Revenue (TtFRR). It won’t be enough to create recurring revenue. Projects will be judged by the time to create the first dollar of recurring revenue.  And this will make software only projects more attractive than projects that require hardware and far more attractive than projects that require new hardware.  Hardware becomes a necessary evil that companies do only to create recurring software revenue.

All this comes down to Situation Analysis or Situational Analysis (SA). On a topographic map, SA is like knowing the location of the hills so you can march around them and knowing where the valleys are so you can funnel your competitors toward them to limit their ability to maneuver.  It’s a lot more nuanced than that, but you get the idea.  It’s about understanding the fitness landscape so you can speculate on dispositional or preferential paths that the system wants to follow in its quest for top-line growth.

If you don’t know how the system wants to generate top-line growth, figure it out. And, next, if you don’t know what the system needs to achieve to fulfill its desire for top-line growth, figure that out.  And once you identify the vacuum created by the missing elements, fill it and fill it fast.

Don’t ask for permission; just do the work that makes it possible for the system to achieve its Prime Directive – software-based recurring revenue to create top-line growth.

Image credit — JD Hancock

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Mike Shipulski Mike Shipulski
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