boiling the ocean

Boiling the Ocean

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In this edition

Nearly every business I am working with now is involved in a significant transformation. Several of them are focused on their Go To Market (GTM), with new or revamped products and services that they are hoping will deliver significant value. This work is inherently large in scope, and for that reason has the potential to get bogged down for any number of reasons. This week’s newsletter shares thoughts on how to manage projects of this nature, so we reduce the ocean to a manageable kettle. Hope it speaks to you. Let me know what you think.

Boiling the Ocean

I am presently working with 3 businesses on Go To Market (GTM) projects. It’s really fundamental stuff about their products which are evolving in some meaningful way, so they are naturally thinking about who the ideal customer profiles are, and how they attract and close new buyers.

Their GTM initiatives fall into the realm of what I call “boil the ocean” projects. They are large, critical transformations of a business and thus present a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The essence of such endeavors isn’t just in the grandiosity of their scope but in the focus required to execute them: vision intertwined with the practicality. My work with them involves helping them navigate these colossal tasks without faltering under their weight.

The dual nature of GTM

The GTM process, at its core, is bifurcated into envisioning the product’s impact and the mechanics of attracting and retaining customers. This involves a deep understanding of the customer’s pain points, how they are uniquely solved by our product/service, and identifying different buyers and industries for whom our product/service is the right solution. From this, we create materials (sales sheets, ads, case studies, websites, landing pages, and more) which, whether via push or pull, guide the customer through a journey from awareness to purchase. Clarifying this further, envisioning the product’s impact involves not just dreaming of its potential but mapping out actionable steps that transform vision into reality, guided by a deep comprehension of the target market and customer needs.

The mechanics of attracting and retaining customers—what we usually call the “funnel”—is about process. It’s understanding where to place our marketing materials, deciding the roles of marketers versus sales teams, and systematizing actions at each step of the journey to track success and relentlessly optimize our efforts. This systematic approach ensures we effectively narrow down prospects to those who are ready and able to benefit from our solution, tailored by customer type or buyer persona.

The Connection between Process and Scalability

The dual nature of GTM work necessitates diverse skill sets and a far-reaching plan that might seem overwhelming at first glance. For any large project, it’s logical and desirable to enumerate all the things you need and want to do, but here, the adage of “boiling the ocean” serves as a caution against ambition that outstrips feasibility. You won’t be able to do it all.

The key to navigating this complexity is prioritization and recognizing the ‘critical path’—the essential elements that need immediate attention. This isn’t merely about hastening to market; it’s about laying a solid, scalable foundation for your GTM strategy upon which we can build and evolve. Identifying the non-negotiables ensures the broader vision remains intact while making immediate actions clear and impactful. Understanding how the product’s substance overlaps with market processes leads to a strategy that harmonizes long-term aspirations with immediate execution. Planning for short-term and long-term solutions allows for ongoing refinement and adjustment, ensuring the project remains focused on core objectives while adaptable to future enhancements.

Project management excellence

The complexity and scale of any transformation project, GTM projects included, demand exceptional project management. I would need multiple newsletters to cover project management for transitions thoroughly, but we can summarize the essentials as being:

  • executive support to ensure the project is prioritized and properly resourced,
  • a project manager capable of handling intricacies with precision,
  • an emphasis on phased delivery, focusing on essentials initially followed by subsequent enhancements, and
  • the necessity for meticulous planning, accountability, and adaptability to change by all participants.


While the scale of “boil the ocean” projects is undoubtedly daunting, with strategic focus, robust execution, and dynamic project management, these initiatives become manageable and deliver substantial business value.

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