Category Archives: Best Practices

Innovation Teams coming together…

Over the past several months we have been talking with a variety of companies and executives about how they are creating innovative environments and innovative cultures in their organizations.  While we have heard some great success stories, we have also heard many tales of concern about how to build an “innovative organization and  culture”.

This couldn’t be a more timely question and discussion as CEOtoCEO is getting ready to launch our INNOVATION TEAMS.  John and I designed these teams for just this purpose, helping CEOs discuss some of the most relevant issues to building their business, making it stronger, and creating a more innovative environment for their organizations.  As we continue to talk to more CEOs we see how innovation in all areas of their business is going to be the key to their growth in the near future.  Innovation in Sales, Marketing, using Social Media, Leadership, Financial Management, Risk Management, Exit Planning, and other relevant areas.

As we move forward to put together the members of the team, we would encourage those of you who may be interested in either joining or learning more about these teams to contact John or myself to learn more before this team is filled.  We are purposely keeping the teams small, around 12-15 CEOs, so we can have some very strong interaction and engagement with the members.  Our plan is to learn some new ways of thinking from the speakers who share their knowledge with the group and some incredible new ways of approaching innovation and business from our members.  Stay tuned as we share these insights and information along the way…

Employee turnover: A good or bad thing?

At our CEOtoCEO breakfast we had the privelege of hearing from several CEOs and Leaders about why their companies were voted some of the best to work for in the Seattle area.  It was great to hear all the different perspectives and ideas that make these some great companies to work for.

John Rubino, President of GreenRubino, was one of these such leaders who shared his insights.  They are a marketing firm that helps organizations in the area of brand, advertising, media, design, and public relations, to give you some idea of his services.  He has been very successful in keeping the right people and attracting the best talent in a tough economy.  When 55% of employees plan to change jobs, careers, and industries when the economy improves, it is important to create an environment that is not only positive but fosters growth.  I believe this number and see it every day in my dealings with CEOs.  In the last year alone I’ve had my share of friends and associates sharing interest in finding the greener grass on the other side of the fence.

John shared two reasons why employee turnover is disruptive and costly  to the health of business.  John credits the creation of a workplace that attracts and keeps key talent as one of the reasons the company continues to grow even during the recession.  He shared some of his secrets to success in the video clip we captured during our July CEOtoCEO breakfast series.

How many “Four Thinkers” work in your organization?

At the start of the July CEOtoCEO Breakfast John Hartman asked the 52 CEOs attending, “What are some of the qualities and characteristics of your best employees?”

As with most CEOs, they aren’t shy so a number of responses rang out.  They  were great responses and were covering just about every area you could think of, such as honest, self-motivated, smart, team player, etc.  But then one response came from the middle of the room, “four thinkers” was the response.  Wait a minute, and everyone stopped shouting ideas for a moment as I’m sure they were asking the  same question, “What is a four thinker?”  And who said it?

As we looked around the room, we noticed it was one of the regular attendees of the CEOtoCEO breakfast events, none other than Lisa Pike, CEO of ScribeRight Transcription Services.  If you know Lisa, you first know she isn’t shy about offering suggestions or asking great questions.  But this one had us all stumped, what was this “four thinker” thing she was talking about?

She went on to explain that her best employees are “Four-Thinkers.” She said, “Almost any employee, if you show them the steps along the way of 1, 2, and 3, can perform 1, 2, and 3.  But what most can’t think of is 4 on their own. Unfortunately, many people are not taught to think that way; they just do what they’ve been shown. When you find the rare person who uses initiative and logic to figure out and act on #4, you have a valuable gem!”  Great insight – thank you Lisa.

If you haven’t attended a CEOtoCEO breakfast event for a while, see what you have been missing?  Sign up for the next one on September 29th and catch all the action and great insights – like the “Four Thinkers” from Lisa.

Do I really want to go in there?

Did you ever drive into the parking lot of a place you worked and not want to go in?  We probably all have.  I don’t know about you but I recall driving up to a couple of places I worked feeling frustrated and less than motivated, to say the least.  I became preoccupied with getting out of those workplaces ASAP.

With the economy being where it is today, there are overwhelming statistics that say a high percentage of workers truly dislike their jobs and would change immediately if given the opportunity – they don’t want to be at work.  With such a high percentage of this happening in the workplace, is it any wonder productivity is down, the customer experience is at an all time low, and morale just plain sucks?  But there are companies that are saying, “I won’t accept this as the norm and we are going to do something about it around here.”

When Patrick Tessier, CEO of Modern Dental Laboratories, started his business, he wanted to create a workplace he personally would feel good about going into when he drove into the parking lot.  His effort to create a culture where his employees feel good about going into work – and it is succeeding.  Under Patrick’s leadership, Modern Dental has been selected a Best Company to Work For the last four years in a row!

To get a better feel for how Patrick has accomplished this and why it is so important to him, we have a brief video clip of when he told the audience at the CEOtoCEO breakfast how and why this was his passion.

How do YOU feel when you drive into the parking lot of YOUR BUSINESS or where YOU work?

Benefits of being a ‘Best Company to Work For’

Eric Overton, President and CEO of Sparling Electrical Engineers, the largest specialty electrical engineering firm in the country headquartered in Seattle. I asked Eric what does Sparling do to be selected and recognized as being a ‘Best Company to Work For’, and what benefits does his organization realize from this effort? Read on for Eric’s response.
Sparling being rated as a best company to work for is a recruiting edge as potential recruits want to work at companies that are progressive, have happy employees, opportunities and so on. I think it demonstrates that a company is progressive and cares about its people.I believe my employees find Sparling a great workplace for many reasons. We offer a great environment that supports collaboration, team work, progressive office space design, the firm’s graphic image and brand is all over the offices, we utilize technology a lot as a part of our culture. We offer very competitive benefits and compensation, based on performance based incentives and we are delivering. We aspire to be a fun place to work, a very strong culture of open communications, risk taking is celebrating when the focus is on innovation or client satisfaction.

As CEO I preach honest, open and transparent communications. We publish our KPI’s monthly in a dashboard environment so everyone can see firm performance, right down to each design studio and practice area of the firm, and we talk about it regularly. We do a lot of the same things other companies do, hold quarterly company update meetings and serve food and drinks, we engage in outside activities and encourage our staff to get involved. We have a very strong Corporate Social Responsibility program and actually pay every employee an extra day of leave when they go volunteer at a charity. We make our CSR program a big deal because I realize that people really desire to give back, not just monetarily but with their time. Our younger staff don’t always have the money but they have the desire to contribute and have the time to give, the young Gen Y’s want to change the world, money isn’t as important in many ways.

In the end, we do what we say. We are a business centered practice and we return firm profits to our staff in the form of performance bonuses, leadership bonuses for our shareholders (when we do really well) pay a dividend to our shareholders and fund our 401K, annually. We have done this for 25+ years and I am committed to this as part of our commitment to our staff. We watch our business very closely.

Sometimes I think it isn’t that difficult, but it is hard work. One of the very unique benefits of our culture and being a Best Company is that it attracts great talent, Sparling is considered one of the premier engineering and consulting firms to work for on the West Coast, and we attract talent from all across the US and even abroad. I guess it works.

Strategic Map is a great tool for sharing your vision

I had the privilege of getting to meet and talk with Randy Gardner, CEO of Red Dot Corporation a while back and he shared with me a great story. He attended one of our CEOtoCEO Breakfast meetings and saw David Katri from Clark Nuber present their Strategic Map. He really grabbed onto that idea and… Continue Reading

CEO’s and Health Insurance cost management

When I decided to schedule David Hansen, CEO of United Healthcare, to be a speaker at the CEOtoCEO breakfast in November I knew we would get a lot of questions from CEOs about better ways to manage health insurance costs. We weren’t disappointed. This has been a topic I hear about all the time when… Continue Reading