Monthly Archives: August 2015

Creating a Road Map for Growth

At our August Round Table meetings, we brought forth the challenges we face while “Creating a Road Map for Growth” and discussed possible solutions to help take our companies to the next level.

Conversations are always best in person, but in case you missed out or would like a recap, below are the notes from our discussions

Kalamazoo – Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Challenges

  • Not having a business plan
  • Knowing who and where your customers are.
  • Not looking at the Big Picture.
  • Focusing on the immediate details.
  • Not taking the time to get the data/information we need.
  • Wrong leadership
  • Not owning the challenges
  • Getting off Track
  • Finances
  • Diversity in the Culture
  • Employees
    • How do you find new employees?
    • How to select and manage new employees?
  • Dysfunctions: How do you have absolute trust?
  • Doing too much. You can kill yourself and your company by doing too much.

Solutions

  • Make a business Plan
  • Having marketing reviews
  • Gather Data to see:
    • Where your customers are.
    • Where your customers are going and where they no longer are in need.
  • Decide:
    • What is our focus?
    • What are we great at?
    • How many customers can we serve well?
  • Helping your team:
    • See the vision and purpose. Why we do what we do.
    • Coming alongside them to execute the plan.
  • Accountability
  • Own your development or lack thereof.
  • Understand Finances
  • Develop your Culture
    • “We took our Senior Level Team backpacking in Colorado.”
  • Senior Management meetings
    • “We have them every other week. 1 day per month and 1 three-day retreat off-site every year.”
  • Regular Staff meetings
    • Share your plan
    • Execute the plan
  • Leaders need to get dirty with the company.
  • Chutes and Ladders. People are either pulling others down or lifting them up.
  • Having people- right seat on the bus.
  • Leadership is a people business
    • Leadership has a massive influence.
    • Pay attention to your people.  Be alert and aware.
  • 15% or more growth a year is about maximum.
    • Pick and choose what 15% you want to invest your time and efforts.
    • Be aware that doing too much can kill you and your company.
  • Manage Growth
    • Have Managers in Place
  • Acquisition
  • It is more about what we do than what we say.

Takeaways

  • Continue to produce leadership within your organization.
  • Everyone in your company is a leader.
    • They have a following.
    • During a visit to the NASA space center in 1962, President Kennedy noticed a janitor carrying a broom.  He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, “Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” The janitor responded, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon, Mr. President.”
  • Alignment
  • Continually and consistently telling your message to your employees.
  • Effective leadership:
    • Functional outcomes
    • Giving experiences
    • Are they building their own success?
  • EOS
    • Numbers show their success.  When an employee goes home on Friday does he know how well he did?
    • Engagement
  • People leaving the company – You can’t change their values.
  • As we create a Road Map, build the road one brick at a time with every person, one conversation at a time.  Personal interaction places a brick and builds every time.
  • It is more about what I do than what I say.
  • Parenting at a business level.
  • Make sure you have back-ups.  Leadership that knows how and why about your business.
  • Alignment with message.
  • How we act.  Actions speak louder than words.
  • Alignment – they care about what we care about.

Grand Rapids – Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Challenges

  • Leaders inability to see opportunities versus problems (or challenges)
  • Rapid technology changes increase the changes in the corporate landscapes and the needed response time to react
  • Inability to define the destination or desired path
  • What does success look like?  How do I know if I am getting there?
  • Are the goals realistic or unrealistic – what is the difference between a stretch goal and an unrealistic goal
  • Failure to work through a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats)
  • Lack of financing to help fuel growth or poor cash management / planning
  • Succumbing to doubt – believing the naysayers
  • As a leader / owner what does growth mean to you
  • Understanding what God wants next
  • Fear of making changes – let’s just stay with the “old” stuff – never asking for input on what needs to change
  • Poor execution and poor development of roadmaps to help track the progress
  • Legislative or governmental constraints
  • Lack of strategy which leads to no vision and no plan
  • Defining what you want to grow – sales, income, market, products, people, influence, etc.
  • Do you really have Grit – Passion plus perseverance = Grit
  • Do you have road marks or tollgates on the way – or are you afraid to be held accountable (even as leaders)
  • Making decisions from a different value platform

Solutions

  • Ask for the vision and the resources – ask!!!
  • Start with a belief it will happen
  • Make you sure focus on the right things – don’t major in the minors
  • Know the numbers and LISTEN to our people
  • Learn from others and get a mentor or coach
  • Make sure you own your IP (Intellectual Property)
  • Right people on the bus (and keep them)
  • Align people with the corporate strategy and create incentives for meetings those strategies
  • As a leader take the time to mentor
  • Build systems and processes that support your strategies
  • Hold people / leader accountable for results
  • Read, often

Takeaways

  • Mentor at your business and mentor at home
  • Get the right people (and get rid of the wrong ones)
  • Hedgehog concept – know what business you are truly in (Good to Great)
  • Have Grit
  • Passion, Plan, Execute and Measure
  • Innovation at all times in all areas

Downtown Kalamazoo- Thursday, August 13, 2015

What do you need for growth?

  • A solid/good management team
  • Vision – setting the bar
  • A quality product
    • What do you want to sell?
    • Is the product something someone wants?
  • Know who we serve and geographically where we serve
  • Strategy
  • Execution
  • Training – coaching and development
    • Example: It’s like having someone else take the wheel of your car while driving while you take off a jacket.  If they don’t know what to do, your car can veer off the road.  Training is essential.
  • Total alignment
  • Accountability
  • Culture: Does the next generation understand what the clichés and adages mean that current generation uses?
  • Chutes and Ladders: Employees who are unsatisfied with a job can pull other employees down and cause a cancer in your work environment. Employees that are engaged and satisfied lift people up.
  • Having the right seat on the bus
  • Engagement
    • Movie – “Being There” the story of Chauncey the gardener.
    • Book – “Who Moved My Cheese?”
  • Investing in Employees
    • Mentoring
    • Candid discussions – Candor with Kindness
    • Dealing with conflict
    • “I believe in you.”
    • What do you need to do your job?
  • Employees should not be threatened by Growth. Let them know we grow together and it is a process.
  • Talent + Fit x Investment = Growth
  • Trust plus Faith
  • Quality, on time, budget, customer care

Take Away

  • Necessity of getting the right people in the right place.
  • We need a set of metrics that fits our organization.
  • Increase quality to allow for growth.
  • Creating an environment of engagement and comfort for employees where they feel physically and emotionally encouraged and so they will embrace growth instead of resisting growth.
  • Apply correct conditions for growth.
  • Open the Trusting door with faith for your employees.

Detroit – Thursday, August 13, 2015

Recruiting is Key – Must be treated as a process

  • Must develop a plan
  • One must recruit every week
  • Challenge recruiting millennials (QuickenLoans is doing a good job attracting millennials. What is their process like?)
  • How do you attract people? (PR)
  • You should have 3 people for backup training outside

Value Road Map

  • True alignment between business and culture
  • What are you metrics? (Where are you? Where are you going?)
  • Focus on the plan
  • Get the work force behind the values (buy-in)

How do you reinforce the culture?

  • First with Leadership
  • What kind of behaviors are proper or not?
  • Book: Working Together: 12 Principles for Achieving Excellence in Managing Projects, Teams, and Organizations by James P. Lewis (Forward by Alan Mulally, President and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes)

What does a Road Map Mean for Each Organization?

  • The plan needs to be flexible, adapting to audience (millennials)
  • Road map > Succession
  • Larger organizations have a hard time changing/adapting
  • Culture at the top sets the tone for the organization

Growth

  • Getting the results generates trust
  • The road map is the bible
  • As a leader you take ownership of the whole organization
  • Treat your employees well inside the company, as well as when they leave the company. This behavior attracts other to come to your company
  • You values, as a follower of Christ, are your path to growth
  • Integrating with the people
  • The CEO (Leaders) define the values, culture, and organization
  • Growth is more than your company. It is an ecosystem, vendors, customers, staff, etc.
  • Noble Obligation – ” to whom much was given, of him much will be required…” Luke 12:48
  • Alignment of customers and employees
  • Clarify/Alignment
  • What price do you pay for growth?
  • Getting back to fundamentals: taking care of others.
  • As leaders, we are responsible for setting the tone.

Grand Rapids – Thursday, August 13, 2015

Challenges

  • Sometimes, members of the leadership team are not well aligned, and are working from their own individual roadmap for growth.  This can create confusion, dissension and chaos across the leadership team and throughout the organization.
  • Successfulness can breed complacency.
  • Not creating and working our Roadmap for Growth can put us behind the competition, faster than ever before due to the increasingly rapid rate of change in today’s marketplaces.
  • The need to adjust our Roadmap for Growth can be triggered from within the organization (internally), and from our customers, competitors or the marketplace environment (externally).
  • Creating a Roadmap for Growth is frustrating.
  • Creativity and innovation, while healthy in many regards, can become obstacles to the discipline required for staying on a strategically sound roadmap for growth.
  • It is challenging to know thyself accurately: The greater our flaws are in our self-analysis (personally, organizationally, and within the leadership team), the more flawed our roadmap will likely become.  We all know what happens when we follow a flawed roadmap – we get lost!
  • It can be very hard and even counter-cultural to “think big enough” when creating a Roadmap for Growth.
  • Competing passions and responsibilities can create interpersonal conflicts.

Solutions

  • Since what gets inspected gets done, we can apply the old carpenter’s adage “measure twice, cut once” to our Roadmap for Growth.
  • Make small changes. All pilots know that making a small vector change to the plotted course alters the path taken (and the destination reached) significantly.
  • Creating a Roadmap for Growth forces us to quantify our strengths, advantages, weaknesses and opportunities, which in turn improves our ROI.
  • Creating a Roadmap for Growth can help illuminate who our best leaders are, and vice versa.
  • Since the roadmap creation process can also trigger interpersonal conflicts, learning how to resolve those conflicts in a healthy way builds trust, resiliency and strength for the team.

Takeaways

  • Creating a Roadmap for Growth cascades into prioritizing the performance metrics (KPIs) that need to be consistently tracked and measured.
  • Creating a Roadmap for Growth instills an environment where it’s good to ask the hard questions, which is an essential part of the process of maturing.
  • Without a Roadmap for Growth it is very hard to know when to make changes.  With it, we are much better equipped to know when to make a change.
  • Proactive change beats reactive change, every time.  The Roadmap for Growth is an essential component to being proactive leaders.
  • It is far better to be member of a company (family, church, business, mission, etc.) that is executing a mediocre Roadmap for Growth with vigor than it is to be a member of a company (family, church, business, mission, etc.) with no Roadmap for Growth.

Holland – Thursday, August 13, 2015

Challenges

  • Not knowing what you don’t know and you are afraid to ask or take the time
  • Lack of vision from the executive team and inability to communicate effectively
  • Poor talent selection and poor on-boarding process for new hires
  • Lack of understanding the nuances of your team (manage to strengths or compensate for weaknesses)
  • Inability to get everyone on the same page
  • Inability to create, maintain excitement for growth – why even grow – 5 o’clock cannot come soon enough
  • Difficulty in finding or developing internal champions or leaders to accelerate growth
  • Would rather be reactionary versus visionary (what do our actions really mean?)
  • Focus too much on quantity versus quality
  • Lack of adequate resources – whether capital, talent, energy, etc.
  • Lack of empowerment to the team and lack of encouragement
  • Poor balancing act between time, money, talent and expected outcomes
  • Lack or poor execution of training, developing and maintaining culture
  • Do employees really have a voice or do you “pretend” to hear them

Solutions

  • Communicate in quarterly / monthly meetings
  • Share the big picture and communicate via the above
  • Be purposeful in building teams
  • Keep meetings FRESH – ask people what they like about the meetings, what they would like to change, etc. (engage and be less defensive)
  • Identify the Top 5 items that need to get down – track the progress, measure the result and communicate

Takeaways

  • Let the teams voice be heard – survey the team and act (do it with purpose)
  • Continue to evaluate the purpose and effectiveness of the meetings
  • Remember John Maxwell’s Law of Momentum – either positive or negative
  • Highlight key people and celebrate their accomplishments

Kalamazoo – Friday, August 14, 2015

What challenges do you face when creating a road map for growth?

  • Lack of vision or strategic plan
  • Limited resources – human capital, finances, etc.
  • Lack of training and development
  • Poor communication of vision or lack of buy-in from middle managers or others in the organization
  • Middle management communicates/represents the vision to other employees. They needs to be onboard and ready to deliver on the vision
  • Environmental factors that create resistance to growth – competition, market, etc.
  • Fear of failure, of the unknown, etc.
  • Alignment/continuous growth throughout the organization

Solutions

  • Develop clear vision and mission statements
  • Clear, consistent communication of the mission/vision
  • Communicate the why of the vision, not just what the vision is
  • Get feedback from your team. Where do they see the company going? What challenges do they foresee? How can you make the process more user friendly for the team?
  • Make sure each employee understands their individual role in the organization and how they contribute to the vision and growth of the company
  • Personal communication (1×1) can be a big help in getting the buy-in from those who are unsure. Be available to listen to concerns and answer questions.
  • Training programs need to be aligned with the vision
  • Are proper onboarding processes in place so employees are familiarized and integrated into the vision from day one?
  • Communicate how the training programs help build the vision (This is where we are going. These are the skills/knowledge you needs to achieve these goals. This training offers you a chance to develop the skills/knowledge required)
  • Consider providing cross training/job shadowing so employees can see the big picture not just their own job
  • Check in after trainings with small groups to see how they are doing with implementing/understanding the training. The small group makes it more a more localized/intimate setting and helps keep them accountable.
  • Dealing with Fear
  • Encourage employees to ask questions and raise their concerns so you can help align them with the vision or refocus when needed.
  • Employees may be uncomfortable approaching leaders with questions or concerns. A leaders needs to be able to show vulnerability first to help make employees comfortable.
  • Develop accountability relationships to build trust
  • How can you keep technology, processes, and people growing at the same time?
  • Understand how these area of your organization interact and affect each other
  • Recognize the limitations of your people. Not everyone has the same skillsets or communication/learning styles.
  • Looking at Mistakes and Challenges
  • How do we view our challenges/mistakes? Positive or Negative?
  • We will never be without challenges, but they can refine us and make use better leaders.
  • Failures are learning experiences – How can you handle this issue better in the future or prevent it from occurring again?

Takeaways

It is important to have a unified front for vision and it is our job to steward the vision and communicate it with our team

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