IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

Houston, we have a problem: 3 Mindsets that Keep You Stuck

In my career spanning a bit over 20 years in the IT industry, I have seen the Internet  penetrate rural America and the cell phone transform from a flip phone to the iPhone X.  I have also seen evolutions within the service models used by MSPs.

Now I sit on the other side of the table as a facilitator and consultant attempting to help those I walk alongside to run effective, efficient, and in many cases growing companies.  I attempt to help them go further, faster.

Yet lately something has been keeping me up at night.

As I consult and facilitate IT company owners and their service execs, I became concerned.  It’s not what I am seeing that concerns me.  Rather, it’s what I’m not seeing.

At each of these engagements innovation is a topic.  It has to be.  Everyone is feeling the pinch of pressure from competition and margin dilution.  But it comes up at such a high level that no action is taken.

The mindset I see most often is limited to what Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter calls cost leadership.  Business leaders are looking for ways to increase efficiency to maintain margins, lower prices to remain competitive, or both.

While efficiency and pricing matters, there is more to innovation than cost leadership.  I am concerned with the fact that I don’t see innovation occurring among many of the service and solution providers in our ecosystem.

We have a problem.  Innovation is not occurring.  Many organizations have plateaued and are in danger of decelerating on the organizational life cycle if they aren’t already.

Mindsets that Keep Us Stuck

There are three mindsets that plague many MSPs. You may recognize yourself holding one or more of these mindsets.

  • Innovation Clarity Conundrum: I am confused and don’t know what to do to innovate.


My comments and question for you: There is no shame in admitting we don’t know something. There are so many opportunities and so much information. The question is: What are you doing to understand and clarify innovation opportunities?


  • Innovation Adoption Phobia: Innovation intimidates me. I am afraid of what would happen if we did innovate. My attitude toward risk and my comfort level in my business make innovation unappealing.


My comments and question for you:  There is some wisdom in being intimidated by innovation.  That is a healthy fear.  Innovating poorly can negatively impact your company.  That is why it is important to thoughtfully and wisely pursue innovation strategically.  Remember, strategic thinking is as much about what we decide not to do as it is about what we pursue.  The question is: What innovation activities makes sense for your company at this stage?


  • Slow Follower Syndrome: I’m sitting back to watch others go first. Once I see them having success, then I will consider innovating.  For now, I’ll watch and wait.

My comments and question for you:   At the pace our industry moves, my caution would be that following slowly may mean you get left behind.  We are already well past the bleeding edge on Cloud, Security, IoT, etc.  You need to get moving.  The question is: Who are some others in the industry who are having success?  What can you learn from them?

From time to time everyone gets stuck in a mindset that is not helpful.  The important thing is recognizing those mindsets and taking steps to get un-stuck.

HTG has prepared an assessment designed to help you evaluate where you, your innovation process, and your business are today.  Take this assessment and identify the gaps you have in terms of innovation. Find it here.

We all have gaps.  In the next post, I will talk with you about ways HTG wants to walk with you as you expand your mindset and prepare to innovate.

About the Author

Arlin Sorensen's picture

Arlin Sorensen serves as the CEO and Founder of the Heartland Companies which includes HTG Peer Groups. When he is not traveling to speak and consult, he is home on his farm in Iowa with his wife Nancy. He is a proud “Pop” to four precocious grandchildren who serve as daily reminders of why he is intentionally living to leave a strong legacy of faith and integrity. He loves making a difference in the lives and businesses of small business owners. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @asorensen.

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