Tag Archive: ceo

Strategy Isn’t Long Term!

September 6th, 2019

As I meet with countless CEOs and P&L leaders at clients, via connections, at speeches, etc., I pay attention to what is top of mind. Strategy is always top of mind for the most successful business leaders! After all, if a CEO makes in the millions (the top 10 paid CEOs from 2018 made between $66 million and >$500 million), he/she is being paid for more than just executing the plan. Certainly, strategy is integral to the future success of the organization.

Yet, I see a lot of confusion about strategy. It isn’t complex. Strategy is figuring out the ‘what’. Whereas, tactics is the ‘how’. Strategy isn’t necessarily long-term. Who says ‘what’ should be long-term? In fact, some of the most successful CEOs are now focusing on rapid and agile strategy. Isn’t that what we need to succeed in today’s Amazon-impacted, rapidly changing business environment?

Focusing on the ‘what’ focuses on the outcomes and goals. In essence, where should your business end up? As Peter Drucker would say, strategy is “doing the right things”; whereas tactics is “doing things right”. Take a step back and think about his profound thinking. It is easy to spend all your time “doing things right”, isn’t it? It certainly is for me, and I am an expert in strategy!

What do you think Jeff Bezos is thinking? How to execute the best logistics plan or how to control the logistics landscape, just like a chess game? Of course, strategists need managers who are good at both strategy and tactics to make any strategy come true. And it is also true that strategies rarely fail in composition. Yet, more often than not, they fail in execution. Thus, it seems we must have both! We better know which is which and not be thinking strategy and tactics are long-term vs. short-term, or we will go the way of Sears and Toys R’ Us. (Quite sad as I still remember going to Toys R’ Us as a child around Christmas to explore all the possibilities. It was truly an experience!)

Have you thought about your strategy lately? If not, you better get on it before the next Amazon passes you by. And, let’s not get cocky, Sears used to be the Amazon in my lifetime. You never know who the next Amazon will be. If you are interested in a strategic assessment, contact us.

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UGG Founder, the Amazon Effect in Healthcare & Why Demand is Key

February 8th, 2019

In listening to the UGG founder, Brian Smith talk through his trials and tribulations in developing the amazing UGG brand, a few themes emerged.

  1. Resilience in finding pivot points when obstacles emerged played a vital role in creating the UGG brand.  
  2. The benefit is what matters; not the product.
  3. Creating demand goes back to being a leader in the category when the market shifts.

What a great story!

Next, related to the demand theme, I spoke to the Professional Women in Healthcare (PWH) Orange County group about the Amazon Effect. As a former Executive of a healthcare manufacturer, it was fun to have an interactive discussion with these leaders. Interestingly, healthcare manufacturers and distributors are experiencing the same issues as aerospace, building products and food & beverage. How to keep up with demand (or preferably get ahead of it) while increasing profit and accelerating cash flow (not having a bunch of inventory tied up for no benefit) is the topic on everyone’s mind. Aligning demand and supply and related parties is the trick!

Demand emerges as a common theme. Therefore, I’d like to invite you to an executive lunch centered on the topic, “Increase Demand“. I am speaking on a panel of experts on driving demand in your business. Use early bird promo V25 for a 25% discount. Hope you’ll join us there.

What Should We Consider and/or What Impacts Could Arise?
Every client has a focus on demand. Typically, they are thinking about how to grow the business in a scalable, profitable way, which leads to a mountain of questions about forecasting and how to get in front of demand.

Interestingly, it ALL goes back to one place, the customer. Do you have a passion for your customers and creating a superior customer experience? If so, demand will grow. If not, it won’t. In watching countless organizations over the last 14 years in consulting, I’ve yet to see one that succeeded long-term without this essential ingredient. Have you?

If you have a passion for the customer as the CEO or General Manager, that is a great place to start. However, it is not enough. Your sales team is relevant but the most successful clients view the entire organization as the sales team with a passion for the customer. Ask a trusted colleague to visit your facility. They will be able to ‘feel’ whether there is a passion for the customer or not. Ask them.

If the most successful executives have a focus on demand, it is worth noting. Are you providing lip service to the customer or are you creating this view within your organization? There is also a tremendous amount of focus going into understanding demand with forecasting tools, analytics, artificial intelligence, and more. Do you have a clear path forward as it relates to demand? Of course, this topic also relates strongly to creating a resilient supply chain. Only the most successful companies predict and proactively engage customers to get ahead of demand.

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Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable, Growth Strategies & Idea Velocity

October 19th, 2018

 

Kash Gokli, Director of Clinic Programs and Head of the Manufacturing Practice at Harvey Mudd and I recently led our 13th Harvey Mudd Executive Roundtable.  We had some engaging discussions on growth strategies from multiple vantage points – small and medium-sized, closely held businesses, non-profit business, large complex, global organizations and private-equity backed companies.  It is amazing how much we had in common – no matter the industry, company size or footprint, every executive was concerned about culture and its impact on growth strategy.

I found one CEO’s comment especially intriguing – he mentioned the concept of “idea velocity“.  This topic has increased in importance in my business recently.

It turns out that the “be all, end all” in success for consulting comes down to “idea velocity”.  What are you doing to stimulate ideas? I think this is essential no matter the industry. What executive or company will be successful in today’s Amazonian marketplace if short on ideas?  Not many!

One tip to implement this week:
Don’t despair if you aren’t an idea factory.  First, undoubtedly, you have more ideas in you than you think.  The key is to help them make their way to the surface.

For example, when I interviewed for my promotion to VP of Operations and Supply Chain (as it required an interview by our new private equity backers), although I knew I could get results, I wasn’t too sure about my creative idea generation abilities because I viewed it as “developing the new sticky pad (3M)”.  It turns out that it’s all about repackaging and recombining of key information, products and services. We all have the ability to do that! However, you do not have to do it alone. That’s the point of having a team, colleagues, advisors and supply chain partners who can help spur ideas.

With that said, I recently was in an idea rut even though I surround myself with all of these resources – and more.  I didn’t realize it at the time but not enough was bubbling to the surface. What turned that around was expanding my circle of influencers  (a bit of diversity goes a long way) and realizing that not all idea collaborators are created the same (for each person and what works for him/her).  Finding that right combination “worked”.

Instead of groaning when “assigned to a team with someone you are less than thrilled to be paired with”, see it as an opportunity.  You never know who will spur an interesting idea or who is particularly good at brainstorming with you. Some exciting new ideas might just jump to the surface.  

Put yourself out there and it will happen.

 



Are You Investing in Service?

May 9th, 2017
customer service

Unanimously, our clients have seen an increase in customer expectations. Are you finding ways to exceed customer service expectations and stand out from the crowd?

Unanimously, since the recession, our clients have seen an increase in customer expectations. Excellent customer service has become expected. Instead, we must stand out from the crowd to keep the business. What must we do to maintain our preferential position in our customers’ eyes?

A few questions to think about include the following:

1. Are you investing in customer service like you invest in people, systems and programs? How much do you put aside for this critical endeavor?

2. Who is responsible for customer care? Is it a Customer Service or Sales Manager? Why isn’t it a part of each person’s performance? Does the CEO consider himself/herself ultimately responsible?

3. Are all customers created equal? Do they receive equal priority? Or, do your top customers that do not complain receive less attention because the squeaky wheel gets the attention?

4. Do your customers know they are important to you?

 

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Leaders and “They”

August 26th, 2016
leaders

Weak leadership is prevalent but surmountable by starting with an attitude adjustment. Instead of thinking of other leaders as “they”, remember that it’s a team effort and collaborate as “we”.

80% of leaders are not living up to the task! We come across hundreds of leaders every year – at our clients, non-profit work and while connecting with former colleagues and key contacts. It is unimaginable how many weak leaders there are out there! If you have some of the stronger ones, HANG ON tight!

The amount of wishy-washy leaders is simply mind-boggling. How can we get a grasp on this BIG problem rapidly? Start by taking a step back and think about “they”. When you catch yourself saying, “They won’t let me” or “They want xyz”, think about they. Who are they? Put a name to “they”.

If you are a manager, perhaps it is your boss, a Director, the CEO or CFO. Do you know? When I became “they”, it was amazing how often I had to catch myself thinking “they”, correcting it to “me or us” — even if it was the executive team, I was responsible to collaborate with this group so it was still up to me to resolve. Or, is there really no “they”? It becomes just something we say. What if we have to start owning “they”?

If you are an employee, who is “they”? Insist upon a name or group of names. The roadblocks are suddenly less complicated if we can identify the roadblock (the “they”). If you are the CEO, perhaps you are “they” – unless you are thinking of the Board of Directors or corporate (if you are a General Manager). As in my example, it really circles back to you to address the “they”.

Once you know specifically who “they” is, repeat your statement again. Do you really think “they” will not allow you to proceed with what you think is best for the company, your customer, etc.? If so, go talk to your manager.  Perhaps you and your manager can go to “they” together.

In our experience, “they” disappear quite quickly. Results will follow. And, leaders will begin to soar.

 

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