Category Archives: CEOtoCEO

Surviving the Age of Disruption

At the April CEOtoCEO Breakfast the discussion focused on how to lead during a time of wide spread disruption. Disruption within the business community has also created anxiety for many CEOs. According to its 2015 survey, IBM

John Buller

found that 54 percent of CEOs expect to contend with competition from outside their industries — rising from 43 percent in 2013.

CEO speaker John Buller of Loyalty Solutions posed the the following CEO round table discussion:

What are the most important changes that a company in your industry should make to thrive these disruptions?

The CEO’s discussion led to 5 leadership strategies to survive and thrive during periods of disruption

1. Having the right Organizational Culture

The culture needs to be built to allow change, with all of the voices from all levels of the organization participating.

Some comments were:

  • Create a culture that embraces change –find the right people to champion this change
  • Work with the willing – hire people that are willing to change
  • Build a Culture of Engagement (creating internal buy-in, bottom-up information flow, adaptability)
  • Make sure senior management is aligned and become promoters of change

2. Redefine your corporate strategies

The change from incremental improvement to a culture that is flexible to make change, needs to become your organizational strategy.

Some comments were:

  • Create an education effort around organizational change ‘How do we change?’
  • Purposeful/and deliberate plan for the future – ‘Create a process’.
  • Self-awareness – listening to changes – being able to be wrong.
  • Make sure you have a capital investment plan to be able to adjust to the disruption expense issues.

3. Identify organization change agents

The organizations needs to have change agents at all levels of the organization.

Some comments were:

  • Identify leaders that can champion change, find them at all levels of the organization.
  • Find the best communicators in your organization ,empower them to communicate like crazy
  • Coach up –Show you can adapt and support the change.

4. Embrace Technology Changes

In most cases the disruption will involve new technology and applications embrace the change.

Some comments were.

  • Have capital set aside to buy and train the technology change.
  • Educate your customers – expect they will need to be trained

5. Understanding Generational Differences

There is a definite difference in the skill level and motivation between the 3 generations now working in these organizations.

Some comments were:

  • The makeup of your organizational generations will have a significant impact on how you define and react to disruption.
  • Define and identify your next generations of leaders.
  • Focus on your company’s demographic – understand the differences

“How to Discover New Sources of Growth for Your Business”

Key idea from the March 2016 CEOtoCEO Breakfast.Pam Henderson sliding image

Every CEO and business owner has big ideas that promise growth, but too often lead to products and services that don’t deliver in the end.

Why do so many ideas to add new growth to a business fail to deliver?

From my experience working with many companies leaders that disable new growth opportunities ascribe to one of two strategies: Strategy du’ jour, a new strategy for new growth seemingly every day. This “seat of pants” approach creates activity but rarely results in accomplishment.  On the other end of the spectrum is Paralysis by analysis, companies that measure and monitor everything. Solid strategy to analyze and monitor past performance but creates a risk adverse culture unwilling to try new and different ways to grow the business.

It is important to identify key business drivers are critically important factors that determine, or cause, an increase in value or major improvement of a business. A key business driver is something that has a major impact on the performance of the business… and needs to be constantly updated to be in sync with the latest trends in their markets, technology…

A whole range of internal and external factors affects the performance of every business and the secret is to focus on a handful of key drivers. For most companies key business drivers are related to– major cost-efficiency, growth-effectiveness, and customer satisfaction.
The four fundamental drivers for success are; innovation, quality, speed, cost competitive.
Innovation is important because in a changing world new products and services help the organization gain a competitive advantage by being first to market.
Quality is important because organizations grow on repeat and referred business. The product or service must excel for the client to recognize and return for more. A company’s reputation is esteemed by excellent products and services. It is key to developing new clients.
Speed relates to how quickly a company can develop and release a product or service to the market. How quickly can we respond to changes in the market?
Cost competitiveness means that your costs are kept within a fair market price to attract and retain customers by giving them high value.

Each of these four drivers is important for business success.
What are the fundamental drivers of growth for your business?

Why Organizational Culture Is Important

Organizational_CultureWe spend 40 . . . or 45 . . . or 50 . . . or more hours at work each week. Many of us spend more time with those we work with than we do our families. For us to be content and fulfilled people, that time must be valuable for more than a dollar. . . We want to be engaged in our work. We yearn for work that is enjoyable, meaningful and engaging. When we are engaged we are safer on the job, more productive and more willing and able to delight Customers.

It is for these basic reasons that organizational culture matters. It is the right thing for an organization to do – to think about the work environment, working relationships and “how we do things here.”

Focusing on building and sustaining an organizational culture is one way of showing that people are the organization’s most valuable asset.

There are of course many other bottom line business reasons to focus on and build organizational culture. Here are seven of those reasons.

A strong culture is a talent-attractor.
Your organizational culture is part of the package that prospective employees look at when assessing your organization. Gone are the days of selecting the person you want from a large eager pool. The talent market is tighter and those looking for a new organization are more selective than ever. The best people want more than a salary and good benefits. They want an environment they can enjoy and succeed in.

A strong culture is talent-retainer.
How likely are people to stay if they have other options and don’t love where they are? Your organizational culture is a key component of a person’s desire to stay.

A strong culture engages people.
People want to be engaged in their work. According to a Gallup survey at least 22 million American workers are extremely negative or “actively disengaged” – this loss of productivity is estimated to be worth between $250-$300 Billion annually. Your culture can engage people. Engagement creates greater productivity, which can impact profitability. Need I say more?

A strong culture creates energy and momentum.
Build a culture that is vibrant and allows people to be valued and express themselves and you will create a very real energy. That positive energy will permeate the organization and create a new momentum for success. Energy is contagious and will build on itself, reinforcing the culture and the attractiveness of the organization.

A strong culture changes the view of “work.”
Most people have a negative connotation of the word work. Work equals drudgery, 9-5, “the salt mine.” When you create a culture that is attractive, people’s view of “going to work” will change. Would you rather see work as drudgery or a joy? Which do you think your employees would prefer? Which will lead to the best results?

A strong culture creates greater synergy.
A strong culture brings people together. When people have the opportunity to (and are expected to) communicate and get to know each other better, they will find new connections. These connections will lead to new ideas and greater productivity – in other words, you will be creating synergy. Literally, 1 + 1 + right culture = more than 10. How is that for leverage?

A strong culture makes everyone more successful.
Any one of the other six reasons should be reason enough to focus on organizational culture. But the bottom line is that an investment of time, talent and focus on organizational culture will give you all of the above benefits. Not only is creating a better culture a good thing to do for the human capital in the business, it makes good business sense too.

Hopefully this article has helped you see that time spent enhancing your organizational culture will be time wisely invested. Regardless of your current culture, it is never too late to enhance it and to begin creating the benefits described above.

What are you waiting for?

2014 Business Confidence Index Defines Good Economic Policy as Fair, Just, and Right

At the end of 2014, the Business Confidence Index for all four quarters resulted in an average of 61.5 out of a total of 100.hebert-150x150

Jim Hebert, president of Hebert Research, presented his findings at the CEOtoCEO breakfast on January 29th and explained that “anytime the [Business Confidence Index] is above 50, the economy is expanding.” Almost half of the respondents (48.6%) reported an overall confidence level of 7 or higher in the economy and only 8.5% reported a low level of confidence in the economy (rating of 0-3). To summarize the general idea, businesses are not fearful of the economy and are confident in it.

Hebert Research then asked respondents to predict the percentage change in their business’s total revenue over the next 12 months. Out of the combined total of businesses surveyed in 2014, those who expected to see a 1% to 10% increase in total revenue averaged at 47.9%. Only 5.2% of respondents predicted that their revenues would decrease in the next 12 months. Essentially, this shows that business do not have a large concern with revenues decreasing.

Hebert then presented the findings on the forecasted change in total costs. For 2014, businesses reported a mean expected increase of 8.4% in total costs. Although they expect an increase in total costs, businesses anticipate their prices and fees to only increase slightly (3.23%). Hebert explained that costs are going up because, “the economy is becoming more commoditized in differentiation which result in higher fees and margins.” He further elaborates in his presentation “prices and fees are remaining very competitive because of the competitions within the market.” Hebert puts emphasis on the notion that price control is critical for businesses.

In the forecasted change of total capital expenditures, the mean expectation businesses had during the year of 2014 was a 4.15% increase. Over the course of the year, 36% of respondents expected an increase of 1% to 10% in total capital expenditures while 9.7% expected a decrease. Hebert explains during his presentation that there are modest rates of inflation and there are not many concerns on deflations.

Hebert has a “reserved optimism” for the economy because of the “national deficit, consumer debt, and the world economy.” He goes on to say that, “otherwise we would see that our economy based on the consumer and business confidence would be stronger and should provide a basis for a strong 2015 economic performance.” Hebert closes his presentation by concluding that good economic policy should be fair, just, and right, concluding that, “we have to strive on getting it right in terms of our business.”

A Personal Story of How to Move from Success to Significance

Larry Corey - SliderWe had the privilege of having Dr. Larry Corey, President and Director Emeritus (former CEO) of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center speak at our breakfast this past week. Not only was Dr. Corey entertaining, but his message reached everyone in the room…and got us all thinking as he shared his own personal journey.

The main message he had for us to absorb and think about was something everyone could relate to…how you move from the world of “success” to the world of “significance.” They aren’t the same usually. As the youngest full professor at the University of Washington, his career started out fast and furious. He was a researcher, someone who came up with great discoveries, and someone his fellow colleagues looked up to throughout his career.

Then something happened…he left research and went to the “dark side” as his colleagues would call it, the business side of running Fred Hutch. Leaving research for administration and management was the one thing researchers don’t understand very well. Research is the pinnacle of what they were trained for in life…and they love it. Larry gave us a great example where he told us if a researcher was given a $1M and told he could bank it, spend it, or invest it into their lab, virtually every one would invest it in their lab…that’s the level of passion and dedication these people have for what they do every day. As someone who has had family members die of cancer, I am really happy to hear that answer as they continue to work on ways to eliminate it.

Larry’s job changed from writing papers on Herpes and HIV to promoting “the Hutch” as their CEO. He had to find ways to “commercialize” it to get the funding they needed beyond the philanthropic donations they receive. He had to create awareness and building funding mechanisms to grow. He had to become a true CEO and manage, build, and promote a $400M operation. No easy task for someone spending his life in research.

He challenged all of us that lead businesses that we need to have “Self-reflection and Self-evaluation” as a CEO or leader. This is a critical component to not being just successful, but being significant. He needed to move from the success as a researcher to create significance for The Hutch. So he built a system and an operation that touched many people’s lives in ways that allowed them to continue to not only survive but grow.

As they worked to build tremendous IP (intellectual property) through their discoveries and spinning off companies other big organizations wanted to buy, they became a base for opportunities. He wishes they could keep more of these companies inside their own organization and allow them to grow and prosper as well, but that is another story. Today, he has successfully moved from the research ranks and into the leadership ranks to bring incredible significance to the work of everyone at The Hutch. He has created a brand and identity second to none in the field of cancer research and treatment. He has been a huge part in taking The Hutch to a whole new level of significance in just about everyone’s life.

Jack Welch got it Right…even for Customers

There is a famous quote I always loved from Jack Welch, famous CEO from General Electric. He said, “If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, then the end is near.” Today the rate of change is eclipsing most organizations and they can’t keep up. Competition is… Continue Reading

Complimentary Culture Assessment

For those of you who were fortunate enough to attend our CEOtoCEO breakfast this past week, you heard an excellent presentation and discussion about Culture…the Art and the Science. We want to thank Steve Gandara from Excellent Cultures and Brad Root from GM Nameplate for giving us the real world look at what it’s like… Continue Reading

John Schneider’s Partnership with Pete Carroll

We had the opportunity back in the fall to have John Schneider, General Manager of the (SuperBowl bound) Seattle Seahawks speak to us at one of our CEOtoCEO breakfast meetings. What a treat…both from John being very entertaining with his dry sense of humor but the insights he shared with us about the Seahawks organization.… Continue Reading

Tip from Seahawks leaders: Check your ego at the door.

John Schneider, General Manager and Executive Vice President, of the Seattle Seahawks shared the partnership he enjoys with head coach Pete Carroll and their working relationship at the September CEOtoCEO Breakfast.  One of the keys to their relationship that contributes to the success of the Seahawks John shared is to not let ego’s of the individuals get… Continue Reading