The World Needs Your Long Game

When I started Domo, there wasn’t any lack of advice on where to take the company. Most of the guidance was to make a product that was “the same but different,” a better version of something that people already knew and understood. Incremental improvements to the marketplace that could slowly grow along with the company.

But the thought in the back of my head was different: I wanted to change the way that people managed their businesses. I couldn’t shake the thought that if I could manage my social connections on Facebook—while holding an app in the palm of my hand—why couldn’t I manage my business that way? Why did it take weeks to get a pipeline number or days to get a current employee headcount when all the data was out there, sitting somewhere in my company? I couldn’t be the only CEO wanting more data from across the business, so why hadn’t anyone tried to solve this problem before?

The reality of big visions is that they come with big costs. Building something game-changing the right way isn’t cheap or fast, and it takes a focused team.

All too often, however, that focus gets pulled away faster than you’d like.

One of my biggest learnings has been that, no matter how big the vision for a new company, after a certain amount of time, the pressure for short-term wins begins to build. And who can blame people for asking? If you don’t have the right investors, they get anxious over time and want to start seeing returns. Customers love vision, but they need solutions to help their businesses today. The short game is quick. The short game is cheap. The short game plays in known territory, where you know what to build and how to build it; where customers know what to expect and can compare your offering to others. You have a category. You have an ecosystem of buyers and analysts and known expectations. But at the end of the day, you’re usually just building a slightly better version of what someone else has already built. And I’d guess it’s not why you became a CEO in the first place.

The problem with short-term wins is that they often cause the original vision to fade away. It doesn’t matter what you call it—a pivot, a change in strategy—it’s the pressure that almost always comes, and too many times, the original vision gets lost in the process.

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