Turning Around the Troubled Company

Turning around floundering companies requires effective management at all levels of the organization. But how is this achieved? What must management do to be effective?

Jim Burkett knows something about making the right things happen. He has turned around twenty-eight underperforming and troubled companies, from Fortune 500 companies to smaller public and private companies, throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Burkett has come up with a tool kit for turning around companies that includes:

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Measuring performance
  • Executing
  • Following-up
  • Real-time reporting
  • Problem solving

If you are facing the daunting task of helping to turn around your company, then you’ll want to join us for our Soundview Live webinar The Learned Disciplines of Management, coming up on July 29th. You’ll hear more about his tool kit along with practical examples of how turnarounds can happen.

Join us and invite your whole management team. And make sure to bring your questions to post for Jim to answer during the webinar.

How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience

THE WAWA WAY

Win the Hearts of Your Customers

In August 2011, Philadelphia magazine described a burly, 300-pound, 24-year-old man named Jeremy Plauche, getting the logo of a convenience store called Wawa tattooed on his inner biceps. Plauche, according to the magazine, works night shifts for the rescue squad in Millville, NJ, but is originally from Louisiana. “I tried to explain to my friends there what Wawa was and what it means to people who live up here… and they kind of didn’t believe me,” Plauche tells the magazine. “Wawa is part of our culture. It’s part of our way of life.”

From the couples who marry at the Wawa where they met to the Facebook group People Who Miss Wawa How, consisting of former Wawa customers who have left the chain’s service area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and now Florida), Wawa is indeed a way of life for its fans. How does a regional convenience store elicit such devotion from its customers and even its employees (like those who kept a store on Long Beach Island open during much of Superstorm Sandy even though some had had their houses washed out to sea)? The history and principles of Wawa, as presented by former Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel in a new book, The Wawa Way, can offer lessons for any business seeking to engender fanatic customer and employee loyalty.

Private and Shared Ownership

One key to Wawa’s success, according to Stoeckel, is its unique ownership structure. Nearly 40 percent of the company is owned by the Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP), with the rest owned by Wood family members. The shared ownership with Wawa “associates” motivates all employees to make the stores a success, Stoeckel writes. Perhaps even more important, Wawa does not face the short-term pressures of a public company. “We’re not making decisions, as a lot of companies do, based on what Wall Street analysts or minority investors will think,” Stoeckel writes. “We’re making decisions based on the best long-term interests of the business.” One example are the concrete posts in front of every store to prevent customers parked in front of the store from accidentally plowing into the store (as happened a number of times). Deciding to put the posts in front of every single store “was hard to justify in terms of return on investment, but in terms of living our values and protecting people, it was the right thing to do.”

The Six Core Values

The true secret to Wawa’s success, however, is that it lives its six core values, Stoeckel writes. The ESOP and concrete barriers are just two examples of Wawa’s core value of “valuing people.” Stoeckel also recounts numerous stories of how associates “delight customers,” from bringing a Thanksgiving dinner to a wheelchair-bound customer who would be alone for the holiday, to lending a $200 coffee pot to a customer when the store ran out of coffee-to-go boxes (the customer cared for an invalid spouse and usually bought a coffee-to-go box every morning). The Wawa Way is also filled with examples of how the company follows its remaining four core values: “embrace change,” such as the decision to add fuel to its business model; “do things right,” “do the right thing,” and “have a passion for winning.”

Any company will have ups and downs, and Stoeckel is candid about some mistakes the company has made – including a poorly thought-out strategy for adding fuel to the mix in the 1980s and some questionable products. Wawa continues to excite the passion of its customers, however, because as it moves through different strategies and decisions, it continues to remain true to its core values and traditions. This is a manual on delighting customers.

How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things

GAMIFY

Motivation for Gamification

Gamification describes the use of game mechanics and experience design – a story line, for instance – to digitally engage employees and customers, writes Gartner consultant Brian Burke in his gamification primer, Gamify.

As with many new technological trends in the workplace, gamification is often misunderstood or overhyped, Burke writes. Gamification does not mean turning work processes into a video game (giving a sales manager a virtual gun and turning individual salespeople into virtual targets does not motivate salespeople to be more competitive). Nor will a game turn a dreary job into a fun-filled, joyful exercise. What gamification can accomplish, he writes, is to motivate people to change their behaviors or to develop their skills, and can also drive innovation.

Three Elements of Motivation

Gamification works because it addresses the three elements of motivation:

Autonomy. Gamification allows people to opt in, then make their own choices as they proceed through the game.

Mastery. Everyone has a deep-seated desire to improve and make progress. Perhaps full mastery is not possible in gamification as in real life, but gamification provides the constant positive feedback that motivates people to keep trying harder.

Purpose. Gamification is different from traditional games because there is an overriding purpose. Unlike a game, which is simply created to entertain, gamification “engages players at an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them,” Burke writes.

For example, Burke describes how a hospital for children developed a game app to encourage sick children to keep up their pain journals. These journals are important for doctors to know which treatments are working, but children, especially those having a bad day, are not always motivated to fill out the journal. With the iPhone “Pain Squad” app, children become members of a police force who progress through the ranks depending on how many days in a row they fill in their journals.

Three Audiences

Gamified solutions are usually targeted at one of three audiences: employees, customers and communities of interest (for example, ecologically-minded people who through Internet-based gamification are encouraged to recycle).

The Pain Squad example above illustrated how gamification was able to engage customers – in this case, the sick children – to change their behaviors. Barclaycards uses gamification to engage customers in driving innovation for their Barclaycard Ring credit card. This low-rate credit card is unique because it operates as a separate profit center, and “profits generated by the community are shared with the community,” Burke writes. Through status tiers (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and palladium) and badges, Barclayscard Ring members are pushed to participate in developing the community by suggesting or voting on ideas that would improve the product, or taking such actions as recruiting new members.

NTT Data uses its Ignite Leadership game to identify and develop leadership skills among their employees, many of whom are dispersed to various client sites, some of them for years and even decades. Under such circumstances, they lose their connection with the company. Ignite Leadership creates real-world-scenario questions and allows the player to choose among a multitude of options; there is no right answer. The training is structured as a journey, with points and badges awarded at different levels and a leaderboard that shows player rankings.

These are just three of Burke’s many examples as he illustrates the wide variety of situations in which gamification can be used. In the second half of the book, Burke offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gamification, starting with defining the business outcomes, target audiences, and player goals and moving on to such issues as the player engagement model (for example, is the game collaborative or competitive, emergent with an unknown outcome or scripted?).

In Gamify, Burke reveals the full complexity and potential of gamification but presents his material in a succinct, clearly organized manual that will motivate leaders to follow the example of the successful companies featured in the book.

Reinventing Organizations

REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

Go for the Teal

A recently hired financial analyst from Pakistan named Shazad Qasim once approached Dennis Bakke, the co-founder of global energy provider Applied Energy Services (AES), and said he was going to investigate opportunities for AES in his country. Bakke was skeptical, but the decision was up to the analyst: under Bakke, AES used the “advice process” for decision-making, which meant that superiors had to be asked for their advice, but the decision remained at the lower rungs of the organization. AES is one of the “Teal” companies featured in a new book called Reinventing Organizations by Belgian consultant Frederic Laloux.

As Laloux explains, researchers in history and developmental theory have created a general framework that describes how humans have evolved through history in leaps of human consciousness. In Reinventing Organizations, Laloux shows how we are on the cusp of the next stage in human consciousness. The Evolutionary-Teal stage (all stages have assigned colors) — will bring its own changes to our organizations. In exhaustive detail and using pioneer companies that have already moved into the next stage, Laloux describes the structures, practices and cultures of Teal organizations and how they will emerge.

With each leap or new paradigm shift in the consciousness underpinnings of society, there is a corresponding leap in how humans collaborate, Laloux writes. For example, the Impulsive-Red period in human development, which started with chiefdom-led tribes 10,000 years ago, represented organizations that were ruled by iron-fisted leaders controlling their people through fear.

The Conformist-Amber consciousness, which followed with the shift from chiefdom to states and civilizations — as in Mesopotamia in 4,000 BC — included a deeper awareness of other people’s feelings and perceptions, Laloux writes. Today’s Amber organizations, he writes, are those with stable hierarchies and processes focused on the long term — organizations such as governmental agencies, the military and public school systems.

The Achievement-Orange paradigm emerged in the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, when the universe began to be viewed as a machine that could be investigated and explained. In organizations, innovation is a major goal. Multinational companies are usually Orange.

The more recent Pluralistic-Green paradigm is uneasy with power; in this stage of human consciousness, the idea is the destruction of hierarchies. Green organizations focus on empowerment and values-driven culture — companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Southwest Airlines.

The Evolutionary-Teal stage leads to three organizational breakthroughs: self-management, operating on a basis of peer relationships rather than hierarchy; wholeness, which means the whole person and not just the professional self comes to the workplace; and evolutionary purpose, in essence, the organization itself having a direction and a reason for living.

Using 11 companies as examples, from a family-owned foundry in France to the iconoclastic Patagonia Company, Laloux explores how they operate through self-management structures and processes, strive for wholeness through their general practices and HR processes, and listen to their evolutionary purpose. This practical book will help leaders dissect their organization and find the opportunity to bring their company into the new Teal paradigm.

Turn Your Mobile Device into a Classroom

It’s been five months since we launched SoundviewPro, to provide free video business courses for people looking for efficient ways to improve their business skills.

During the past several months, we’ve added many courses on leadership, management, personal development, professional development, computer skills and more. Courses are being added weekly as we continue to build a strong base of content to match the needs of our business customers.

Every course is free of charge and consists of a group of classes broken up into short video segments. The short videos allow for easy display on mobile devices and tablets. Each trainer is an expert in their field and Soundview brings that expertise to bear in these concise skills courses.

When a customer signs up to take a course, an account will be established for them which includes their personal information and also tracks their courses and stage of completion. They can view a course one class at a time, viewing videos as they progress. While customers can view courses for free, supplemental learning materials including tests, additional readings and a certificate of completion are available for purchase.

Here is just a sampling from the subjects now available at SoundviewPro.

Leadership:

Leading Successfully Through Challenges and Obstacles with Paul White

Helping Successful Leaders Get Even Better with Marshall Goldsmith

Management:

Solving Today’s Employee Engagement Challenges with Les Landes

Installing an Accountability-Based Culture for Success with Julie Miller & Brian Bedford

Communication:

Becoming a Powerful Business Presenter with Stanley Ridgley

REAL Talk – Creating Real Conversations for Results with John Stoker

Personal Development:

Building Brand [You] with Cyndee Woolley

The Five Keys to Experiencing Extreme Personal Productivity with Jones Joflin

Technology Skills:

Microsoft Excel 2010: Introduction with Robert Devine

Microsoft PowerPoint 2010: Fundamentals with Donna Zarbatany

Please check out the courses and let your colleagues know about this free resource. Our goal is to transform the way business people learn the skills they need to move forward in their business and career.