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.

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.

How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time

Laura Stack makes an amazing claim in her book Execution IS the Strategy. She states that strategy must emerge out of execution, and she provides four premises for this approach.

  1.  Interdependency – strategy and tactics are part of the same over-arching process, with an inherent relationship.
  2. Fluidity – strategy must be more flexible in its tactics now than in the past.
  3. Speed – strategy must be executed more quickly than ever before to be effective.
  4. Validity – strategy must still be appropriate and strong, or none of the first three premises matters.

Laura then provide the 4 keys to efficient strategic execution, which she calls the L-E-A-D Formula:

Leverage – do you have the right people in place to achieve your strategic priorities?

Environment – do you have the organizational atmosphere, practices, and culture that will allow employees to easily support your strategic priorities?

Alignment – do your team members’ daily activities move them toward the accomplishment of the organization’s ultimate goals?

Drive – are your organization’s leaders, teams, and employees agile enough to move quickly once the first three pieces of this list are in place?

To learn more about how execution and strategy interact, and how to apply the L-E-A-D formula to your organization, join us on May 30th for our Soundview Live webinar How Leaders Achieve Maximum Results in Minimum Time with Laura Stack. Bring your questions and fill the room with your team members.

Four Memorable Quotes from Soundview’s Author Insight Interviews

A great accompaniment to many Soundview Executive Book Summaries is the Soundview Author Insight interview. Each interview is worth a careful listen because authors often reveal new interpretations of their material. The interviews also provide them with the opportunity to share new information gained since the book’s publication.

Here are four great thoughts to consider and share with your team:

“Most people think that success resides somewhere outside yourself. It’s something other people have. It’s something you need to go out and discover. But actually, success is always inside yourself and it’s the connection between your own interests, your own aptitudes, your own motivations and the opportunities that life presents.” G. Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success

“What we find in both individual change and organizational change is that it often requires some sort of disruptive event, some sort of major external activity in order to force change. Change becomes reactive as opposed to the individual or the organization being proactive and embracing change. The first step in performing change better is leading it better.” – Susan Goldsworthy and Walter McFarland, co-authors of Choosing Change

“For the most part, when you examine alliances you realize that it is a common pain that drives people together.” – Rich McKeown, co-author (with Mike Leavitt) of Finding Allies, Building Alliances

“People are hardwired for negative or positive emotions and we all have a different set point inside our brains for anxiety, depression and happiness. You have to really understand your set point and then do as much as you can to keep yourself on the positive side of hope, optimism, compassion and generosity.” – Bob Rosen, author of Grounded

A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change

THE EXECUTIVE CHECKLIST

A To-Do List for Achieving Results

For more than 20 years, James M. Kerr has been an independent management consultant working with both large and small companies: He helped Home Depot reimagine its store operations, for example, while advising smaller firms such as specialty insurer Jewelers Mutual on how to open up new markets. Already the author of three books, Kerr’s fourth book pulls together the varied experiences and knowledge acquired in his project work into a deceptively simple but practical and comprehensive checklist for executives. The Executive Checklist: A Guide for Setting Direction and Managing Change is built on 10 general items that all executives must manage and implement if they are to be successful: establish leadership; build trust; set strategy; engage staff; manage work as projects; renovate the business; align technology; transform staff; renew communications practices; and reimagine organizational design.

With the chapters devoted to each of these items, Kerr moves from the general to specifics with sub-checklists that are focused and actionable. The checklist for establishing leadership, for example, is as follows: have a dream; actively set direction; communicate early and often; be dynamic and visibly involved; promote collaboration; practice inclusiveness; don’t tolerate bad leaders in your midst; make no excuses.

LexisNexis Fakes a Trade Show

In less experienced hands, a book of checklists and sub-checklists could easily turn into a litany of platitudes with little implementable substance behind them. The Executive Checklist, however, reflects the grounded, real-world perspective of a management consultant paid handsomely to get results, not talk. The discussion on having a dream, for example, does not describe Martin Luther King’s speech or John Kennedy’s space goals. Instead, Kerr introduces the concept he used with LexisNexis Insurance Software division of a “vision trade show” — essentially a faux trade show with booths manned by a member of the senior leadership team.

Floundering in the ultra-competitive property casualty software market, LexisNexis top management had decided to write a new vision story for the company that would help employees understand where the company was going. Because engaging employees was vital, the new vision story was first introduced in a specially produced magazine with articles written by executives and then further explained through Kerr’s vision trade show. As with a traditional trade show, LexisNexis employees moved in small groups from booth to booth, where they “were treated to a briefing or demonstration highlighting a specific element of the firm’s vision story,” Kerr writes. “To make the trade show experience even more realistic, each booth provided attendees with various giveaways, including logowear, squeeze balls and golf goodie bags.”

For LexisNexis, the trade show booth format had several advantages over the traditional town hall meetings often used to spread the word on a company’s vision. Each booth emphasized specific key points or themes, such as speed to market, continual transformation and the building of a talent factor. In addition, the fact that top executives manned the booths persuasively demonstrated the full commitment of top management to the new vision.

Do Your Job

Recognizing that the job of an executive is to lead and motivate others, The Executive Checklist includes actions that executives must demand of others as well as themselves. For example, Build Trust, the second of Kerr’s 10 items on his executive checklist, includes imperatives such as “model the behavior,” “share the wealth” and “keep it light.” Building trust, however, also includes “don’t play games” and “do your job” — which apply to both boss and employee. Bill Belichick, coach of the New England Patriots, doesn’t play games and does his job, but a great part of his success — he turned a franchise never known for its winning consistency into a team that, since he became coach, has appeared in more Super Bowls than any other team — comes from ensuring that his players also never play games and always do their jobs. In fact, as players go through the entrance to the New England Patriot locker room, they pass under a sign that says simply: Do Your Job.

LexisNexis and the New England Patriots are just two of the many companies referenced in The Executive Checklist: an easy-to-use reference manual for executives to keep nearby for quick guidance.