Let me tell you a story about one of our clients.
Imagine a small bespectacled gentleman, about 5’6 tall, neatly dressed in a grey linen suit, with a style that pushes your mind to think of the Italian riviera. You are looking at Paulo, a humble quiet human being who, at heart, is a craftsman who loves his world of private equity, making deals and recovering old brands.
The first time we met him, he told us a story that he came across at BizSchool that changed his life. It was the story on Kodak; he said “for almost a hundred years, Kodak was at the forefront of photography with dozens of innovations and inventions. But When digital came, the film sales flew out of the window, disappeared like bats in the morning sun. The management team made three major mistakes; one they failed to reinvent the company; two, the organisation overflowed with complacency; and three, they lacked strategic creativity.”
He told us that right then he knew what he was going to do for the rest of his life, find great brands with mediocre management teams.
After leaving business school on the east coast of America, he never moved back to Manarola. He stayed on the east coast, joined a PE firm, and set about his mission. Now, he works for himself, spending his own money buying companies with great brands and poor management teams.
What is his magic formula?
The answer to this question led us to find a unique synergy with Paulo. He had a process that we recognised because we had built a tool that followed a similar philosophy.
It all hinges on a communication strategy that builds on everyone’s knowledge from the bottom to the top. Paulo’s first step is to create market knowledge by having each manager collect information on the market, the customers, the products and production methods. He lets them work in their silos. He brings them all together, senior managers with first-line supervisors, and has them share what they have collected. He shows them how to create a picture that no one person or group alone could have created.
He shows them the power of ideas and uses their work and their picture to drive a new vision for the business, with new product strategies that fit the market.
We all possess the ability to create pictures in our minds. However, it is not common-practice for management teams to spend time talking about what they see in their minds-eye. They are usually too business with tactical, urgent things to sit around talking possible maybes. What they fail to appreciate is that a vision is a very powerful tool that has shaped great civilisations, built industries and produced awe-inspiring art.
Once a quarter, or half yearly, a management team should collect data-points from all around the business and ask,
- What is this telling us?
- What data are we missing?
- What is our vision?
- And, Is it still relevant?
WHY DO THIS?
Building a well-constructed vision creates a structure that management teams can use to prioritise goals and action plans. A vision also helps managers establish alignment with each other and key people in their value chain. When other managers and suppliers have a clearer understanding of what the vision is, they are often inspired to do a better job, providing better services and components. Customers are also inspired by a vision and will sign on to be a part of something special; this is why we all love the brands we love. We like what they stand for and what they promise us.
HAVE THE TEAM BUILD A COMPELLING STORY
Execution is the key to running a successful business.
Success in business comes from a blend of vision, planning, action, tenacity and responsiveness to feedback. Turning a vision into a model managers can execute needs a story that links all of the building blocks that make up the Strategic Execution model©. When a management team comes develops a deep understanding of how all the blocks work together, this creates, “true urgency.” This kind of urgency drives energy and helps management teams focus on the essential actions and prevents them from being sidetracked by day-to-day problems.
When a team can tell a story that links vision, to values, and values to strategy, the story feels more believable. When they can then make the links between strategy, resources and capabilities, others understand why they are being asked to change.
WHEN A TEAM UNDERSTANDS MOTIVATION AND CAN RESET ENERGY LEVELS, FOR THEMSELVES AND OTHERS, CHANGE MOVES WITH SPEED. AND FINALLY, WHEN A TEAM SEEK OUT FEEDBACK TO HELP THEM MAKE THEIR STORY A REALITY, THEY INNOVATE, ADAPT AND PREVAIL.