Tag Archives: CEOtoCEO Breakfast

3 Strategies for Overcoming the Threat of Disruption

The topic of the April CEOtoCEO Breakfast was “Can You Survive the Age of Disruption?”

In the current business environment, operational excellence has become an imperative for business rather than a competitive advantage. The ability to rapidly adapt to a change in circumstances is what really sets companies apart today.

Consequently, chief executives need to deliver more than quality control, cost control and continuous improvement. They need not only to manage the continuous threat of disruption and ride the waves of change, but to overcome them, rather than be overwhelmed by them.

Here are 3 ways chief executives can out-fight the disruption beast.

“Companies should not fight disruptive ideas, but try them out on a small scale to see if they work.”

  1. Reinvent your company, don’t just optimize it.As Theodore Levitt explained in his classic “Marketing Myopia”, one of the reasons for the decline of the railroad companies in the U.S. was that they saw themselves as railroad companies rather than as transportation companies. This led them to a focus on optimizing their companies, while the entire railroad business model was being outflanked by newer means of transportation: car, trucks and airplanes. So define your business on the basis of the customer need you are trying to meet, not the product or service you are currently offering.
  2. Disrupt your own business.As Arie de Geus documented in his “The Living Company”, one of the keys to corporate longevity is a willingness to trying out new things. Using what essentially is a lean approach, companies should not fight disruptive ideas, new ways of meeting the customer need, but try them out on a small scale, see if they work, and take things from there. (I would recommend undertaking such activities in isolation from the core business. Let it be done by different people and house them in a different building. As Kodak experienced when it came to the digital camera business too late, new ideas have a habit of not developing well or soon enough when surrounded by those they could potentially disrupt.)
  3. Manage your company as a “portfolio of opportunities”.This includes moving away from the traditional, linear strategy process. Strategic planning should not be about identifying the most likely future, but the range of possible futures, including extremes. (Often it is the extremes where your competition makes advancements, so it’s critical to keep informed about these.) Strategy formulation discussions should then be about how your company could best position itself, and which business to give prominence in each of these futures. Final commitment of resources should be delayed as long as possible and, thus, made part of strategy execution, when you know how the market is really changing. This enables you to optimize utilization of the resources of your company whatever the future turns out to be.

GE is an excellent example of how this is done in practice. It recently launched “Current”, bringing together its various businesses of relevance to Renewable Energy – LED, Solar, Energy Storage, Electric Vehicle and Predix, its predictive analytics technology. It had been developing and trying these technologies for years, and now feels the time is right to push them forward and make them a focus for the company.

ANDREAS DE VRIES

What are the unique qualities of an excellent leader?

The round table question at the February CEOtoCEO Breakfast was “What are the unique qualities of an excellent leader?”  Attending CEOs offered a variety of responses including a compelling vision, active listening, rational decisions and strong relationships were offered by participants.

One of our speakers, Karen Lee, CEO of Pioneer Human Services who has previously excelled in leadership positions in government, utilities, education, law and the military offered Courage as the unique quality of an excellent leader.

Thought you might be interested in an expert from a post by Bill Treasurer that speaks to why courage is a central quality of excellent leaders.

Aristotle called courage the first virtue, because it makes all of the other virtues possible. In addition to being the most important human virtue, it is the most important business virtue, as well. Think about it: Other important business concepts like leadership, innovation and sales wither in the absence of courage. Leadership takes making bold and often unpopular decisions. Leadership takes courage. Innovation involves creating ground-breaking but tradition-defying ideas. Innovation takes courage. Sales requires being repeatedly rejected before closing a deal. Sales takes courage. Take away courage, and sales, innovation and leadership lose their potency.

Contrary to popular belief, courage is a teachable and learnable skill, and most everyone has the capacity to be courageous. Moreover, nearly all courageous acts represent one or more of three types of courage:

TRY Courage: The courage of initiative and action— making first attempts, pursuing pioneering efforts and stepping up to the plate.

TRUST Courage: The courage of confidence in others— letting go of the need to control situations or outcomes, having faith in people and being open to direction and change.

TRY Courage: The courage of voice— raising difficult issues, providing tough feedback and sharing unpopular opinions.

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.

Customers talk to others about the brands they trust

At the CEOtoCEO Breakfast last week Kurt Dammeier, CEO of Sugar Mountain shared the brand tenets his company beechersembraces that naturally converts customers and clients into passionate Mavens (brand ambassadors) and who in turn spread the positive buzz for his businesses.

Kurt stressed how important it is to gain your customers trust as a key to increasing word of mouth promotion of your business.  One way to gain trust is to emphasize who you are (your company) more that what you are (products and services).  If customers like who you are and what you’re about they will trust you more and share that with others.

Kurt’s demonstrates transparency to build trust with customers by locating his company Beecher’s Cheese  is in downtown Seattle and New York with ample windows for customers to view the cheese being made.

Speaking of windows Kurt spoke to how charity is also an important tenet to the Sugar Mountain brand as it provides customers a “window into the soul of the company”.  To walk the talk Beecher’s created and manages the Beecher’s Flagship Foundation that provides educational programs on healthy eating to Puget Sound schools.  One-percent of Beecher’s sales dollars helps fund the foundation.

What are you doing to build trust and your brand with your internal and external customers?  Answers to that question may start a word of mouth epidemic for your business!  Now that’s really something to talk about.

Seahawks Winning Culture…

Seahawks logoBack in September at our CEOtoCEO breakfast we had the great privilege of having John Schneider speak to our group about the culture of the Seattle Seahawks. We all know how that story ended…with a SuperBowl victory!! But being a business leader you know there are lots of moving parts behind this to make it truly come together the way it did. A big one is CULTURE…

Last month we had the opportunity to have Steve Gandara from Excellent Cultures and Brad Root from GM Nameplate talk to us about “HOW” you can build this type of culture in your company or organization. Well, they took it a step further and married the Seahawks culture with their discussion about how to create this type of culture in a tremendous Four Part Series. We wanted to share these with you so you can get even more depth about how to create an excellent culture in your own organization.

Excellent CulturesIn PART ONE of The Seahawks Superbowl Winning Culture, they talked about 4 key elements that help them differentiate themselves from their competition. Here is their list…

  1. The level of intensity with which they play
  2. The voracious competitive spirit that seems to drive them
  3. The youthful talent of the players
  4. And most of all how much fun they have playing the game

In PART TWO they talked about how confidence played such a key role in their achievement. Two key ingredients that helped make up this winning culture were…

  1. Humility
  2. Confidence vs. Arrogance

These two components were far bigger drivers of their successful culture than just being a “great place to work.” There is a great deal to culture and it starts with the leadership of the organization. Pete Carroll was a master at creating this culture and allowing the players to do what they do best.

In PART THREE of the series, they focused on the internal relationships that go on between the leadership of the team and organization and the players. Yes, there is a definite relationship that has to be established and creating one that allows everyone to do what they do best is critical if you are to achieve the ultimate prize of being Superbowl champions. Two areas they discussed were…

  1. Positive Competition
  2. Superior Teams are built on high quality relationships

All of our organizations are “teams” and as such these are very applicable to everyone.

In the FOURTH (and final) PART of their series, they focused the TEAM aspects of the culture. How do they build a winning “team” that works so well together and delivers the results they wanted. One of the key aspects to accomplishing this is “Proper Goal Orientation.” They talk about this and how the Seahawks used it masterfully in their efforts to be the most successful team in the NFL this year.

So we highly recommend you read all four parts and see how you might compare to a team that was obviously successful in the most watched Superbowl in history. This was not only an exciting day for all of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, but it is a series of events we can all learn from as we lead our companies. Special thanks to Steve Gandara and Excellent Cultures for putting these blog posts together and allowing us to share them with you. And as usual…please share your comments and thoughts below.

 

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

Three Important Questions….

At the beginning of the November CEOtoCEO Breakfast Pat Chestnut, CEO of AAOA Healthcare, posed three questions to the 59 CEO’s and Business Owners in attendance.  The questions and highest rated responses (in red) are as follows: 1.  Why do you provide benefits? a) Because I should. b) My competitor’s do. c) To attract and retain… 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

Improve your rate of hiring success

The typical standard resume review and interview practices commonly used to select sales candidates only gives you a 50:50 chance of selecting the best candidate. “Easy to find, hard to hire.” is the answer Lisa Pike, CEO of ScribeRight provided when I asked what are some of the key challenges in managing a sales force.  She… Continue Reading