Are you communicating as much as you think you are?

Are you communicating with the right people?It was an intensive project. People were working on it for months. Extensive conversations involved people from each department. Every detail was looked at and planned for. Everyone knew the timing, what had to happen, how long the downtime would be and who all was involved. There was a ton of communication. Only that communication was amongst the groups involved in making the project happen. There wasn’t any direct communication with the customer, creating surprise and confusion when the downtime happened. It was a blip that people got over, but the frustration didn’t need to happen.

It is a common business situation. Whether you are in leadership or working on a project, it seems like all you have done is communicate. The real question is, whom are you communicating with? If it is only the people who are working on the project, initiative, or your senior leadership team and not those who are impacted, you are not communicating enough. When was the last time you stepped back to think about how you are getting your message out? If you aren’t talking about it all the time, its time to take a step back and rethink your communication strategy.

Failure or Learning?

failure vs learningI’ve been listening to Masters of Scale podcasts during my drive time. Each episode deconstructs how successful businesses have been able to achieve success and scale. Almost every episode has a tale about the number of times the interviewee has been told no in trying to get their idea off the ground, or how the business has built in innovation and experimentation that results in as many failures as successes. People learn from trying and failing. The more often they try things, the better they get at succeeding. They are able to tell more quickly what resonates with their customers. They build in mechanisms to test ideas without negatively impacting customers. More importantly, they are able to move more quickly than others because they know what customers want and how to accomplish it. How are you building into your business a mechanism to learn from failing?

Do you see the potential?

do you see the potentialYears ago, I moved to Houston, necessitating house hunting. My realtor found a house three blocks from Rice University on an oak tree lined street. The houses were built in the 1930’s and had a tremendous amount of charm. My house was perfect on the outside, but was original on the inside. Original kitchen, original plumbing, original wiring. All from 1932. The paint was at least a few decades old, the ducting for the air conditioning was visible in the closets and the oak floors were in need of refinishing. To me, it was fantastic! But to everyone who walked inside, I was out of my mind. They couldn’t see what I saw. The potential.

Potential is everywhere. It is within people, in companies, in ideas, in communities. It just takes opening your eyes to see what can be. How are you looking for potential?

The Field Trip

The Field TripField trips were an amazing part of growing up. Living in Southern California, we went to the La Brea Tar Pits and Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills. La Brea Tar Pits gave a perspective of dinosaurs and the like. While on paper it seems strange to visit a cemetery for a field trip, Forest Lawn back then had an amazing exhibit on US history. Being able to see history put it into context, at least as much as you can without a time machine, took the learning to a different level. Trips as I got older took me to Checkpoint Charlie and Auschwitz during the cold war. An experience that cannot be had from books. Seeing something in real life gives context. The same is true in leadership. Walking around a facility, talking to the people, visiting customers gives an unfiltered, contextual experience. It is one that is critical to really understanding your business, your customers and your people. How are you making field trips into your business on a daily basis?

The best surround themselves with the best

the best surround themselves with the bestThe best surround themselves with the best. Top performing companies hire the best talent, work with the best partners and surround themselves with thought leaders. They continue to get better because they are constantly innovating and growing. They are constantly looking for top talent and hire them when they find them. How are you surrounding yourself with the best?

A business is worth exponentially more when it is run well

well run business is worth exponentially moreRunning your business well isn’t just for show. A business is worth exponentially more when it is well run. The math bears this out. An example of the same business, pre- and post-transformation based on a real business transformation:

  • Pre: $10MM EBITDA x 3 multiple = $30MM value
  • Post: $30MM EBITDA x 8 multiple = $240MM value

As EBITDA grows, the multiple expands dramatically. And that’s all due to running your business well. How are you positioning your business?

Activity vs. Results

high performance is about results, not activityRecently, an individual was touting the mark of high performance as hours worked. In other words, it is a matter of activity rather than results that garners the mark of high performance. The reality is top talent produces at a rate of 3 to 17 times the average in the same amount of time depending upon the industry. High performers are clear about what they are trying to accomplish. People work together to accomplish a common goal. High performing leaders set the tone, attract top talent, focus on results and have financial results as evidence. How are you focusing on results rather than activity in your organization?

Businesses exist in an ecosystem

business operates in an ecosystemBusinesses exist in an ecosystem that comprise the business, the community, the people who work in the business and the stakeholders of the business. The strength of the business has a profound impact on those that it touches. As the business becomes more successful, it employs more people and generates a host of benefits in the community and for stakeholders. How is your business contributing to the ecosystem?

Are you taking into account predictable changes in your forecast?

expect predictable changesI was getting ready to head north to Seattle. The drive time according to GPS was 2.5 hours. That might have been the case at the moment, but many times the traffic clogs up around mid day. By the time I was nearing Seattle, surely I would hit traffic that GPS wasn’t forecasting. And I did. It added about an extra hour to the drive. Good thing I planned for it, as I would have missed my first appointment had I not.

In business, there are many situations that are known, but don’t always show up in the tools you are using to plan for the future. It could be seasonality or cyclicality in your business. If you take your current month or annual sales and project them forward, you are likely to miss your projections all together. This happens more than you would expect. How are you taking predictable changes into how you run your business?


Is it time to step on the gas?

know when it is time to push on the gasHave you ever noticed cars slow down going up hills or to the top of a bridge? Once the peak has been reached, traffic speeds up and gets back to speed limit drives. This happens because the gas is not applied a bit more to maintain speed going uphill.

Headwinds can be experienced in business in the form of choppy market conditions, new competitors, supply chain disruptions, etc. Businesses that excel step on the gas. They figure out how to move faster. By doing so, they are way out ahead of the competition when the market conditions ease. How are you making sure you step on the gas at the right time?