More on How Business Could Solve Complex Problems


Tackle complexity rather than avoid it!

By Darlene Crane and Elnora Webb

Businesses do solve problems and well-designed products do make life better.  Yet, when it comes to deep social and economic problems business methods have not led to breakthroughs.  More startups and SMEs (small and medium sized) businesses are focused on tackling complex economic or social challenges but are starved for capital and relevant services to expand their impact.    

This article proposes we literally reshape business thinking to develop solutions to complex problems.  To take this leap it will be necessary to:

  • Acknowledge it is time to re-envision the purpose of a business, work and value 
  • Create breakthrough solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it
  • Design robust companies and products that improve social or economic problems

Acknowledge it is time to re-envision the purpose of a business, work and value? 

After decades of a single focus on shareholder value, one hundred and eighty-one corporate CEOs signed a letter as members of The Business Round Table on August 19, 2019 to redefine the role of a corporation.  The Business Roundtable letter stated,

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” said the statement signed by 181 CEOs. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.” CNBC

This is in stark contrast to the historical corporate focus on linear and inward thinking on stock value only.

The sole focus on shareholder value has led to complex long-term problems like climate change, income inequality and public health to persist.  Solutions to complex problems require flexible thinking to grasp this wider context. 

How can businesses create new solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it?

Invest in developing leader mental flexibility before attempting to develop solutions.   When leaders understand their conscious and unconscious mental responses to difficult and uncomfortable situations, they can engage with big questions longer and hear the different stakeholder viewpoints.  With open exploration of problems comes deeper understanding and readiness to create more systemic solutions. 

With the mounds of data available, leaders must think critically as they interpret data, methodologies before making decisions. 

This is the time for leadership team of all sizes of companies shifts into planning and solution development from a long-term value creation approach.  Value creation looks at the value of the company under different external conditions and points of view.  This broader view invites information from financial and market analysts as well as public and local community sectors.  Controversy may develop, but with flexible and open thinking the sparks between the viewpoints can generate new and better solutions. Envisioning desired end results ten or twenty years out also leads to innovative solutions. 

What can owners do now to lead their businesses and solve problems

The turn of the decade is a critical time to research and analyze long-range studies and other data. Strategists forecast trends in the next decade that will be updated when the 2020 Census data are released.  Start now to:

  • ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Develop the practices of flexible and insightful thinking
  • Imagine what innovations and products your company can generate to sustain and grow your company into the next decade
  • Stay informed on the most urgent social, economic and environmental issues
  • Prioritize Social Responsibilities initiatives with business opportunities and risks
  • Develop external stakeholders who help define non-financial indicators of improvement 
  • Commit to investing resources to get results and minimize unintended consequences


Recently, McKinsey & Company released major reports on the Future of Work projecting an  adoption scenario of Artificial Intelligence indicating a potential 38 million jobs impacted.  The specific report on the impact to women in the full report stated:  

Men and women need to be skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy in the automation age, but women face pervasive barriers. Concerted and creative new solutions are needed to enable women to move forward.(McKinsey Global Institute analysis, 2019 )

This magnitude of change is difficult to comprehend, let alone begin to tackle. 

Practice asking the BIG questions to start tackling complex problems.

  • What can your leadership team do to increase flexible and insightful thinking?
  • What resources and data are now available to envision the company in 10-20 years?  
  • What solutions for the short-term support long-term success?
  • What risks must be reduced to external stakeholders?
  • What can your company invent that adds value to the company and key stakeholders?

How Business Could Solve Complex Problems

Free Webinar on Thursday, July 29, 2019

In this webinar you will learn

  • Why now is the time to re-envision work and value 
  • How businesses can create new solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it
  • What you can do now to sustain business ownership, community and economic well-being

Register for a FREE webinar on August 29, 2019

12:00 noon – 1 p.m. PDT

How Business Could Solve Problems

Why now is the time to re-envision work and value:

For decades businesses have been managed from a linear and inward point of view. Move beyond that box to more flexible and open thinking and action.

How Does a CGO (Chief Growth Officer) Help the Whole Company Achieve Goals and Hit Targets ?

Turn over at the C-Level is widespread.  So how will those taking on the new role of Chief Revenue Officer (CGO)succeed on delivering on end goals and targets.REGISTER NOW for LEVEL UP! Developing Business Growth Practices for Real People
Use promo code grownow for 50% discount for June 20 workshop

At the moment one of the great examples of an organization that delivers on every level is te the Warriors, the new NBA Champions.   While the NBA trophies are beautiful, what I love about the Warriors leadership team and Steve Kerr’s coaching is that it is all about joy, commitment to doing the work to play basketball at the highest level by the whole organization: top down, bottom-up and across every role. Everyone comes together to achieve the end goal.

The NBA Championship Celebration Parade in Oakland, California provided lessons for CGOs to look beyond numbers and standard business principles and pay attention.  The soul of the Warriors came through in the parade.  What you could see through the event was recognition of the contributions by ALL team members, being embedded with their fans/customers, and maturity over ego.

1.  Recognizing the contributions of each an every person on the Warriors team was remarkable.  World famous stars to operations and game day staff all walked in the parade with signs noting their role.  The TV commentators announced all the units and we could really see their faces not just confetti.

2.  The Warriors aren’t just aligned and engaged with their fans/customers, they are embedded with them.  When Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Steve Kerr and others got down from the buses and celebrated with the fans on the streets it was like a family.  Kerr’s comments that celebrating in Oakland was for all people was as authentic as you can get.

3. The maturity demonstrated by the leadership and team through the stresses of the playoffs was reassuring.  Each individual took responsibility for their actions, each other and the results.  There are a few organizations in the press these days that should take note.
​CGOs start pulling it all together across your company: use promo code grownow for 50% discount  for LEVEL UP WORKSHOP click here
Join us at LEVEL UP! Developing Business Growth Practices for Real People! on June 20, 2017
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 Ninth Street, Stuie 290
Oakland, CA 94607


I had the opportunity to do a webinar for the Pitch Finalists at the IEEE Women in Engineering Conference in San Jose in May.  The core theme was speak as a CEO of a budding corporation.  Here are the links to the slides and audio file if you are looking for more input to your pitch preparation.  Note: the audio file is about an hour.

Audio file link

Does Your Company have a Chief Growth Officer (CGO)?


There is a great discussion going on in marketing circles since Coca Cola let go of their Chief Marketing Officer and then shifted to a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) position. Falling revenue pushed the company to connect revenue growth strategy, product, marketing, sales and digital marketing to achieve measurable targets.  The marketing industry is acknowledging that the CGO role is the trend of the future.  If this CGO trend is a surprise to you then read the articles below to understand this more holistic approach to revenue growth.

Marketing Profs gives you their five components of the CGO role click here.

Read the much shorter comments by Type A Communications that hits the key points of the CGO mindset.  click here



Register Now for our upcoming workshops:  
Developing Business Growth Practices for Real People
Presented by The CraneWorks
​and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center
 Sunday June 18, 1:30 – 3:00 p.m.
and repeated Tuesday, June 20, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. 
Cost: $30 with light refreshments

Be there to get questions about revenue growth and the Chief Growth Officer roles answered:
  • How do I set future revenue targets and really achieve them?
  • To stay in the Bay Area do I have to generate more revenue and earnings year over year?
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 Ninth St., Ste. 290
Oakland, CA 94607

Grow Your Business, Make Great Decisions

After dealing with health issues since the beginning of the year I am back and focused on business growth more than ever.  This is now The Great Decisions Blog. Each blog post will focus on one key decisions owners have to make to grow.
The key decision for this post is: 
Making the decision to grow your business
Many owners want to grow their business, but a clear decision keeps getting put off because of daily pressures, fear of taking the risk to grow or unsure about what business growth really means and the best route for the business to take. If you have questions about growing your business attend our events in April and May.
Panel:  How to Grow Your Business and Make a Better Economy FREE
Darlene Crane Moderator successful patterns for business growth in consumer, professional and B2B services Attorney Roseanne Torres, Esq. and Debbie Pfisterer, CEO Blue Heron Inc.   
Date: Friday, April 28, 2017, Time: 8:30am No registration required
Location: Sherman Balch Pavilion, St. Rose Hospital, Hayward
By the Latino Business Roundtable of the Hayward Chamber Commerce.

​Workshops:  LEVEL UP!! Business Growth Practices for Real People
​May 2 and May 7

​To help you get started thinking about growing your business now read more…

Here are some of the most frequent reasons to grow a business in the next year or two.
Circle up to three reasons why you would decide to grow your business now.

  1.  Your need to increase sales and cash flow to break even
  2.  Build up reserves in case of changes in the economy, your industry or market
  3. Increase revenue  30 – 100% by distributing new products
  4.  Buy another company to increase contracting capacity
  5.  Increase revenue and earnings to improve living conditions and save for retirement
  6.  Achieve your greatest professional ambition and purpose
  7.  Other motivation to grow::________________________________________________

Now decide what is the number one reason to grow your business and put a star by it.
If you have difficulty making a decision about the number one reason to grow your business, you can

  • Do more research on your industry and the local economy
  • Interview customers or industry experts
  • Get input from peers.

The following story illustrates how business growth can be done with focus and persistence. I was pleased to hear from a past participant in one of our small business growth programs.  As an experienced construction project manager he could get work from a prior employer to cover baseline expenses.  He came into the program to double his earnings to have a better lifestyle and cushion. In a year after finishing the program he was very excited because he found his ideal customer niche and had reached his revenue goal. He now had the tools and successful results to keep growing his business.   
If you are asking questions about growing your business get answers at the panel and workshops on April 28 in Hayward and Oakland  .

For more insights into the real purpose of a business check out the article below from McKinsey & Company the leading consulting firm to CEOs click on the link: