One of the most common questions we are asked by any prospective growth company is, “Do you have experience in our industry?”.  Odds are the answer is yes as we’ve worked with companies in all different industries from e-commerce to financial services to manufacturing to retail among others.  But it’s not as important as you might think.

In fact, we make the case that when looking for a coach, it’s often best practice to work with someone outside the industry.  While this seems counterintuitive, there are a few reasons why this makes total sense:

A Beginner’s Eye

Often times we fall into patterns that are common into our industry because “that’s just the way it works”. Some of the best ideas in human history have come from people outside that industry.  The concept of auto tune – where a producer in a studio can correct a singer’s pitch – came from a Doctor. The innovative company 3M developed a breakthrough concept to prevent infections in surgeries from a makeup artist. Championship coaches Bill Belichick and Pat Riley never played professional football or basketball but understood how to get the best out of people and systems. An “outsider” can sometimes see things that industry experts can’t because they’ve viewed the business through the same lens for many years.  You may have heard the saying “You can’t see the forest from the trees”. A coach with a beginner’s eye may help you spot the forest and the foliage you’ve never seen!

No Bias

We all have biases and not always in a negative sense and certainly in many cases not in an intentional sense. Our natural biases can block our creativity. A good coach will help an organization to not only identify their biases around processes such as pricing or even how customer data is viewed but help the organization to develop systems and metrics that cut to the real root of the issues and measure success.  A great example of this is depicted in the book and film, Moneyball, where an Ivy League graduate is hired by a professional baseball team to find value in players that other teams overlooked.  This was a novel and even ridiculed approach in the early 2000s but now you won’t find a professional sports team on the planet without an analytics department

Process with Flexibility

A truly great coach will bring a process to your organization and help scale your growth. At align5, we help organizations implement Scaling Up, which focuses on ensuring that we make the right decisions around 4 key aspects of a business – People, Strategy, Execution and Cash (we’d challenge you to find an industry or organization on the planet that doesn’t need to get those 4 things right!) then execute those strategic decisions through a One Page Strategic Plan and a series of efficient Meeting Rhythms.

There are some advantages of course to having a coach who knows your industry. The learning curve is a little faster and perhaps they have some instant best practices that may pay immediate dividends, but we’ve found that the long-term benefits of a coach with an agnostic system such as Scaling Up will yield greater results for your growth company.

Here at align5, our clients represent many industries, including Financial Services, eCommerce, Information Technology, Construction, Cannabis, and so much more! If you’re interested in talking about how our industry-agnostic coaching methodology can serve your company, contact us here