Help! My Business is Growing

Overcoming challenges in managing business growth, with Bob Green

May 10, 2024 Kathy Svetina Episode 75
Overcoming challenges in managing business growth, with Bob Green
Help! My Business is Growing
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Help! My Business is Growing
Overcoming challenges in managing business growth, with Bob Green
May 10, 2024 Episode 75
Kathy Svetina

Feeling the pressure as your business grows? 

 As you expand, expect to face new hurdles: Your old framework might no longer be the right fit. 

You'll need to build an executive team while streamlining your processes becomes crucial. And what about succession planning? Who takes over the reins when you step back? 

And if that's not enough pressure, you also need to make sure everything keeps running smoothly while managing all these changes.  


If you don't get it right, you can slow down your progress and put the future of your business at risk.


So, how can you handle these challenges and achieve sustainable growth? When's the best time to build an executive team? How do you kickstart succession planning?  Is there a more flexible way to grow? And how can you be sure you're moving in the right direction?


In this episode, Bob Green and I talk about some practical strategies on how you can manage the complex task of growing your business. He shared the importance of adapting your business framework to accommodate growth and how to get your team excited about these changes and how they can help elevate your business to the next level of success.


Bob is the owner of TAB (The Alternative Board) North Shore and has led company growth from the war room to the board room to the conference room, with allies, and it's never been a coincidence.  Instead, he's curated the experiences with people from the launch of a new product or service all the way through post-merger integrations.  He's organized all of these experiences into one process consisting of mindset, accountability and performance with everyone in the company, without exceptions.  The outcome for the company owner is improving company value, while creating a culture of stakeholder value, without anyone having to sacrifice their life to make it happen.


We discuss: (timestamps)

02:21 Why do companies often find succession planning challenging?

04:07 The optimal time to start succession planning 

05:19 What are the signs that indicate the need to build an executive team?

07:23 Balancing loyalty and performance within your teams 

09:06 How to build an executive team and internal vs. external recruitment for executive positions 

11:45 How can businesses effectively manage change within their organization?

15:01 Building bridges between departments help with change management 

15:45 Using employee insights to drive innovation when addressing customer needs

17:02 What are the limitations of the EOS framework as a company grows?

23:27 The importance of documented procedures for maintaining consistency during growth

27:22  The next step to take when exploring alternatives to EOS



Resources:
Bob Green, Owner, TAB (The Alternative Board) North Shore 
https://www.thealternativeboard.com/

LinkedIn -
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobgreenteams/

Email - 
bob@tabnorthshore.com 


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/

Blog post | Overcoming Challenges in Managing Business Growth
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/listen/overcoming-challenges-in-managing-business-growth/

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Feeling the pressure as your business grows? 

 As you expand, expect to face new hurdles: Your old framework might no longer be the right fit. 

You'll need to build an executive team while streamlining your processes becomes crucial. And what about succession planning? Who takes over the reins when you step back? 

And if that's not enough pressure, you also need to make sure everything keeps running smoothly while managing all these changes.  


If you don't get it right, you can slow down your progress and put the future of your business at risk.


So, how can you handle these challenges and achieve sustainable growth? When's the best time to build an executive team? How do you kickstart succession planning?  Is there a more flexible way to grow? And how can you be sure you're moving in the right direction?


In this episode, Bob Green and I talk about some practical strategies on how you can manage the complex task of growing your business. He shared the importance of adapting your business framework to accommodate growth and how to get your team excited about these changes and how they can help elevate your business to the next level of success.


Bob is the owner of TAB (The Alternative Board) North Shore and has led company growth from the war room to the board room to the conference room, with allies, and it's never been a coincidence.  Instead, he's curated the experiences with people from the launch of a new product or service all the way through post-merger integrations.  He's organized all of these experiences into one process consisting of mindset, accountability and performance with everyone in the company, without exceptions.  The outcome for the company owner is improving company value, while creating a culture of stakeholder value, without anyone having to sacrifice their life to make it happen.


We discuss: (timestamps)

02:21 Why do companies often find succession planning challenging?

04:07 The optimal time to start succession planning 

05:19 What are the signs that indicate the need to build an executive team?

07:23 Balancing loyalty and performance within your teams 

09:06 How to build an executive team and internal vs. external recruitment for executive positions 

11:45 How can businesses effectively manage change within their organization?

15:01 Building bridges between departments help with change management 

15:45 Using employee insights to drive innovation when addressing customer needs

17:02 What are the limitations of the EOS framework as a company grows?

23:27 The importance of documented procedures for maintaining consistency during growth

27:22  The next step to take when exploring alternatives to EOS



Resources:
Bob Green, Owner, TAB (The Alternative Board) North Shore 
https://www.thealternativeboard.com/

LinkedIn -
https://www.linkedin.com/in/bobgreenteams/

Email - 
bob@tabnorthshore.com 


Kathy Svetina, Fractional CFO:
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/

Blog post | Overcoming Challenges in Managing Business Growth
https://www.newcastlefinance.us/listen/overcoming-challenges-in-managing-business-growth/

Kathy (host):
Well, hello there. And welcome back to another episode of "Help! My Business is Growing" a podcast where we explore how to grow and build a business that is healthy and sustainable. I'm your host, Kathy Svetina, a fractional CFO and the founder of a company called NewCastle Finance, a company where we believe that everything that you do in your business is eventually going to end up in your finances. And to get to healthy finances is to have a healthy business. Well, the question is, how in the world do you get there? Well, this is where this podcast comes into play to help. As your business gets bigger, you are going to run into some new challenges, the framework that you used to build your business might no longer fit or work for your current and future needs. You might also need to put together an executive team and revamp your systems and processes. And there's more to future planning and strategy as well. You have to think about succession planning, for example, and who's going to take over when you're ready to step back, and on top of everything that is happening, you also need to make sure that it keeps running smoothly, and that you are able to support these changes and growth spurts so it can get really, really overwhelming. So we're going to be talking about how do you achieve sustainable growth? And is it really the right time to build an executive team? And when is the right time to build an executive team? And how do you start the succession planning? And how do you know that you're doing it right? So before we jump into the podcast, I want to remind you that all of the episodes on the show, including this one, come with timestamps for topics that we discussed, and each one has its own blog post as well. You can find all the links and detailed topics in this episode's show notes. My guest today is Bob Green, he is the owner of The Alternative Board Northshore or TAB, he has led company growth from the War Room to the boardroom to the conference room with allies. And it's never been a coincidence. He's organized all of these experiences into one process consisting of mindset, accountability and performance with everyone in the company, without exceptions, the outcome for the company owner is improving company value while creating a culture of stakeholder value, without anyone having to sacrifice their life to make it happen. Join us.

Kathy (host):
Welcome to the show.

Bob (guest):
Thanks, Kathy. Great to be here.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, it's so great to have you here. Because you're the expert in what we're going to be talking about, you know, navigating Business Growth often also means succession planning, which can be daunting. It's like you're deciding to hand over the steering wheel of a speeding car, make sure that you don't lose momentum and go off course, you know? There's generally two struggles: when and how do you pass this baton? And with doing it, so without causing too many ripples in the business, especially when it comes to the culture and the strategy? And you've been helping businesses navigate this for a long time? So let's start here first. Why do you think so many businesses struggle with succession planning?

Bob (guest):
You know, I think Kathy it's because especially the first owner I worked with, he built the company like many people, they had an idea you know, didn't really want to work for somebody else started the company literally based on a federal standard of product safety for children's toys and juvenile products and great idea great execution. And like many other people even like us, maybe in some ways, you know, we we kind of start with who do we know, who are our friends and family who can pitch in and help us out? And and you know, it's still kinda like a family. And you know, eventually when you're building a company, you've reached that point where the friends and family network isn't enough. And you've got to say, "Who do I need to hire who I haven't met yet? And what job have I never created before? And how do we actually start this conversation about how I can work in a system and a process where I can trust them without looking at them without knowing them from my neighborhood." And so it's that idea of I think, people start with "I don't want to do something, so I'm going to do this." And then this becomes the company that I didn't really intend it to be but now here it is. So it kind of sneaks up on people maybe it's an unfortunate consequence of their success.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, it's you create a successful monster that you just have to keep on feeding. And let's talk about is there a specific time when you think is the best time to start at least thinking about succession planning versus actually doing the planning? When do you think that would be? You know?

Bob (guest):
What I found Kathy with, with people I've worked with is sometimes owners hesitate to let go of that title of CEO and some of them jump into it really quick. But in many cases, people who jump into it relatively quick because they don't really have an executive team yet, you know, and if you don't have an executive team, it's not really a CEO position. But the other mistake is when the CEO is still kinda like the Rainmaker. I call it the instead of the Chief Executive Officer, the Chief Executive Sales Officer, which, you know, you've got to let go of one of those things. And so I think that's that's the point when it's Like you're you really do want to be the CEO have an intention to be the CEO. But you're also still kinda like the chief Rainmaker. You got to teach people how to sell and teach people how to execute in the operation. And then you know, that's how you build that executive team. And then you just walk into that conversation of succession planning, because it just makes everybody's life better in the near term as well.

Kathy (host):
So let's say that you're at a point when you know that you have to start building an executive team, what is happening in the business? Is it a specific revenue that you're reaching? Is it a specific type of pain that you're experiencing, as a business owner that will tell you I have to start building that executive team, what is exactly happening in the business at that point?

Bob (guest):
You know, what I've called it Kathy is, and I've experienced this many times over. And even in public companies, too. It's what I call the kind of the loyalty, the loyalty versus performance. And when you feel like this idea that people are loyal. And they think, well, because I've been here, and I've been loyal to the owner or loyal to the CEO or loyal to the company that by definition, justifies my performance, whatever it is, but as you know, when we're talking about, you know, good financials and good forecasting, and great execution, whether it's growing sales, or selling to new customers, or pragmatic innovation, which is that idea of incremental things of recognizing how you might be moving up market with a newer client, or a more valuable offer to your existing clients and many more, you really have to think differently about performance. And you have to give people you have to give people something, it may not be the whole profit and loss statement, because you want it you don't want to share that with everybody. But you've got to give people some financial measures and input, even if it's a performance ratio to say, here's how we know we're on track throughout the year. And if you don't do that, then people just don't know. And they're just going to kind of do what they did yesterday. So it really doesn't matter what the revenue. I mean, I've seen it happen at a million dollars in sales, as well as it's, you know, two and a half million or 10 million where people just are kind of off in their own areas doing what they do. And there's really no way to bring it together in a legitimate not just a financial statement, but even in terms of how the leaders of a certain group or team may be teaching and helping other people to grow and perform as well. So it's the whole it's really about the discipline, you know, and loyalty is not discipline, loyalty is just we know each other, and maybe we trust each other, and maybe we don't, and it becomes ugly, and then trust becomes kind of a combative thing. But yeah, it's it's I call it the mistaken identity of of loyalty, thinking of it as performance.

Kathy (host):
And when you're realizing that this is happening in the business, what is the next step that you should do? Because if you're trying to build your executive team, and you have people that are loyal to you, but not into this new person that's coming in the business, and now it's going to be this middle man between you and the people who have been loyal to you. That becomes a little bit of a struggling point right there.

Bob (guest):
Yeah, you know, the first time I did this, I went from Bob, the technician who was just getting started in my career to Bob, the integrator. And my title was "whatever Bob says goes", and I'll tell you the secret about the way the way I did it, Kathy was really nothing spectacular. I you know, I'm an ordinary guy from Buffalo, New York, I, I've just kind of, I never thought about it as outworking people, you know, people say I work harder than anybody else I didn't. And I'll tell you what I did, I just I wanted to learn as much as I could, as fast as I could. And so the way I did it, and the way other people can do it, too, is you really, you really get to know people. And maybe it's you share a few hours with them to pay attention to what they know and what their strengths are. And you kind of let them lead with their strengths as opposed to telling people what they don't know or what they're not doing well, or you're not good enough. And you organize strengths like this. And you know, it's almost like this unrecognized collective wisdom you have in the company. And if you start there, everyone comes from a position of strength. And it's not about an attack. So people don't feel like they have to defend themselves. And it's really the secret to, you know, all of a sudden, I was integrating it with my help with many people with all their strengths, you know, two companies and 60 locations in the world around the world. And it was, but it really was about looking for people's strengths and actually having the conversation and oftentimes that's the easiest thing. People just don't do.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, a lot of times people just get so heads down into the day to day life that they don't really take a look at and take a step back. It's okay, I have to develop the team. How do I actually do this? One of the best ways is through the conversations? So when you're deciding now that you have this, the need for the executive team, should you go and look for those type of people internally? Or should you go out and look for someone externally? Well, what do you think is the best way to look at this?

Bob (guest):
I like to look internally first, and I don't I don't do it in terms of an ultimatum like you know, you need to take this or you're going to get fired. Or what I like to do though, because this is another conversation that happens many times owners will say well, you know this person I don't think their management material, but if you look back at the owner's experience, well they weren't really management material either. When they started, you know, they kind of started they learned along the way and it's almost like you know, you think you have to be the hero, and sometimes you can help other people elevate to a hero as well. And again, kind of going back to their strengths. And you realize, you know, whether people are detail oriented, or they really like to relate to people, you can build on that strength and help people recognize the details that matter or help people communicate better. And sometimes people have just never had that orientation to, you know, realize you don't have to be the biggest voice to influence people, you just have to, like you said, recognize the strengths, you know, and, and, but also give people some measures to say, well, here's how you can show your team how well they're performing. And then obviously, again, just kind of get to know their personality strengths and, and their interests. But oftentimes, you have the credibility already, as colleagues in the company, it's, it isn't necessarily a good thing. I was the outsider. When I was working for the one company and we acquired the second one, it was a little awkward, you know, I've gotten responses, like "noted", you know, like, when I was issuing a new procedure, and like, wow, that was awkward. But But again, I didn't do it to intimidate people. I was just saying, you know, here's what's best for us as a company. And you know, if you have a comment about it, tell me about it. I'm not here to issue edicts, I'm just here to do what's right for the company. And but yeah, yeah, and I think that's really the thing is people need to just recognize their strengths and say, you know, here's, here's what I would like you to do. How do you feel about it? Give people the support to say, "Well, what do you think you struggle with? I'm not a very good communicator? I don't I'm not really good with financial information." Well, you know, as you said, you don't have to give it away. You don't have to give the whole profit and loss statement to people that, you know, you're a CFO, I mean, you don't have to think like a CFO to be aware of performance to say, well, this is your part of it. And if you have questions, let's talk about it, and usually build that confidence over time. And it's, it's like credibility that people already have, and you just help people to rise up. And it also creates some legitimate loyalty, because people see that there's a path forward.

Kathy (host):
And you know, we've talked about this, when we were before we recorded this podcast, we talked about this idea of change management, every single time that you have these issues, that means that there's change happening, you have to manage that change, although Change management is really more of a corporate term. But you see that painful change happening in small businesses, they just, they just don't have that type of terminology that in the corporate world that we do, when someone is going through this change, what do you think is the best way to make it as little as painful as possible? And you talked about, you know, actually being available, having good communication skills, and making sure that you are using your internal team and you promoting them, that you are training them as well and giving them that that skill set? Is there anything else that you think is really important to to make sure that that change management is done well, there?

Bob (guest):
Yeah. You know, I was a consultant for about 24 hours. And I was in my first 1099 role, I was your number six in my career, and a couple of colleagues invited me to come up to a large, large international private company. And so we met in the executive suite, 25 years of experience, each person in the room, 25 of them. And I said to my colleague at the end of the day, "I've never seen so much fear, it seemed like they were so quiet and apprehensive to speak." And he said, "Yeah, that was something, wasn't it?" So the next day, I kind of went into the room again, I was just listening to people. And I learned there were five guys on the front line way down to the you know, the first floor, the regular desks, not the fancier, not the people with nice mahogany desks. But there were five guys who had just been laid off about two months earlier, and they were suddenly rehired. And so they were kind of just, you know, what he called "right sized out", I guess, was the expression. They didn't really know why they were laid off. And they didn't know why they were back. So I learned about these guys. And I just went down to meet them. And I helped them understand what was going on up there in the War Room, you know, with all the executives, and they said, "Oh, wow, thanks a lot. We didn't really know what was going on here." And I said, "Well, let me show you what we're kind of working on here. Now you can be a part of it." And I let the supervisor walk me around to this team to show me what they have been doing. And I just liked building the bridge. And it was almost like, you know, people talk about breaking down silos, but I think of it differently as like building catwalks between the silos because the silos do have value with their depth of knowledge and in the specific areas in which they work, but oftentimes, people aren't really building those connection points and helping people to realize and relate to each other how they're going to do this. And really where it starts, like look, I mean, this is what we're going to do first, this is the new process, this is what we're going to build on and you just let people learn it slowly rather than doing this kind of big surprise unveiling like it's, you know, choosing a curtain on a game show or something on TV. It's just these really small moves where you help people to understand incrementally how you're doing it and then you field the questions like you said, you know, the way to break through the fear is to eliminate the mystery, you know, make people aware of it and then sort of create that desire, the excitement how they can be a part of it and they can own their part of it rather than I've seen people say, you know, "shut up and do your job" and that's the mistake. That's where you create the adversarial stuff and nobody trusts each other and then just ruins everything and good people will, you know, just start looking out for themselves.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, don't leave. And you know, the other thing is what's important here too, is that when you're in the leadership position, and you're making these changes, you have probably been thinking about this for a long time. They didn't just come to you last night, and now you're making this announcement. So giving the people, the employees, the time to actually adjust themselves into this new reality is so important, because you've been working on this probably for a couple of months. And they have just heard about it yesterday afternoon.

Bob (guest):
Well, you know, some of the other things, Kathy, I've seen too, is, and I still see with owners I work with even right now, whether it's the customer service role, if it is that kind of a company where there's specific, like customer experience, people, but even those people who may be in the field, like mechanical services, or product design, product development teams, they're seeing things and they're aware of things and what they do every day. And those people working directly with customers, they can be some of the greatest sources of innovation you've ever seen. So they almost have an awareness too because they're listening, and they're hearing from people and people are giving them feedback, even if it's unsolicited feedback. So if there's something new you're going to be doing, it may not be quite the secret you thought it was. They actually have a pretty good awareness, especially when, you know, customers have told me, they said, "Here's what I need you to do. And can you help me solve this problem?" And it might just be that direct. So it may be just, "Hey, here's the demand we're hearing about" or, you know, "Here's what we've noticed out in the field. And now we can add this more valuable service." So it's almost like, well, you know, we're really going to act on it as a company. And you can almost use that wisdom of people who've heard from their customers, or would-be customers to say, "Hey, we really wish you could do this", you say, "Well, now we're going to respond to it. And here's where we're going to start. And we're going to build this new process, we're going to help each other out." And maybe you can even find some train the trainers in that, in that awareness. And you can help people get right involved in, now you've got a team, now you've got that team to help you, you know, manage as you choose, manage the change and guide people through the process so they can share that wisdom.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, that's really good. And you know, there's a couple of frameworks that you can actually use to make this happen. One of them is EOS. The other one is you have your own blueprint. And I would like us to go into, not because I'm always like, I'm not bashing EOS. It has its own purposes. But we've talked about this, you know, before we started recording, that EOS has a time and place for a specific type of companies, but in other companies, especially when the company grows, it can outgrow the EOS. Can we talk a little bit about that?

Bob (guest):
What I've found with this is EOS has the tendency to put labels on people like "visionary" and "integrator", and sometimes those labels become an unintended trap like "I can, I'm only the visionary, you're only the integrator." And you know, just like I said, but like with integration, it might not be one person who's the integrator. And most importantly, it isn't just about labels. And really what EOS does, Kathy, is it's really a great structure to bring people together with a set of core values. And, again, not just be people not just be doing stuff, and "I don't want to work for somebody else." But it's about "what do we really believe as a company? How do we bring it together in good meetings and share these core values?" But that unintended consequence of the visionary and the integrator, it almost serves as a trap, because people get caught up in that, and then they get caught up in, you know, "I just, I'm just gonna have these quarterly meetings, and we're gonna go through this stuff." And then it isn't about all the other discipline that you have to do. And, you know, what does innovation mean? And where, you know, we talked about as well. And "I care about this as much as you do. If you're going to act as a CFO and have great financial forecasting, and really offer some estimation of performance, you got to have all the good data and all the good understanding of cash in and cash out. And what are the investments? If we do go beyond our target, what investments do we need in people or technology or equipment? And how can we lower costs from our suppliers through, you know, economic ordering, and things like that and quantities?" If you don't have that kind of discipline? And and bring it together and say, "Well, it isn't so much about visionary integrator as it is a culture of innovation and a recognition of where we're going as a company." I've seen people even get so caught up in visionary and integrator, that they don't even have a leadership team because they say, "Well, these are the only two positions we need." So it just gets it gets all sideways. And it's almost like, again, as we said, not bashing it, but it's almost like people say, "Well, the EOS is kind of like color by numbers. I'm just gonna follow the script", but it's a guide. It's a guide, and then you have to go and do your work beyond that. So this is what I love to, I love to hear people who said, "Okay, we've done the EOS, they said, that's great. Now let's build on that. That's the foundation now let's get into the weeds and bring this all together and sort of wire up the house so to speak and build this thing. So it really does run without the visionary integrator because it doesn't, you don't have to have."

Kathy (host):
Yeah, and you know, as the business grows, you are going to have to have separate departments. You're going to have a Sales department, you're going to probably have a marketing department and you need a finance department that accounting rolls into, the more the business grows, the more you're going to have these structured departments. And as we've talked about, you know, the visionary, the visionary could be a chief strategic officer that you might need to have, because you have grown so much that it's not just, you know, one person, it could be an entire team on the rhythm, the support system. So yeah, and I do have with EOS, a little bit, there is definitely a time and place for it. But what I have noticed is that it's pretty old school, and it just doesn't fit into the company that's supposed to be an agile, nimble entity.

Bob (guest):
It is. And it also comes down to that question where if you have like a couple of business partners, they'll necessarily take one of those two roles by default, right? And the other conversation is, sometimes businesses are sold. And my parents did this. They went into a business when I was in college, in a restaurant, and they invited an owner to come in as many people do, because the owner had restaurant experience, but the owner was not a good fit to work with my mom. In fact, the first day the owner became an owner, she came into the restaurant and took some money out of the register and told my mom "owners don't work they just collect the money." And so what happens sometimes is, you know, owners, visionary, integrator, whatever title each one chooses, they may not really want to be in business together, they came together because of some usefulness. Like, you know, maybe a person like you is good in finance and operations, and the other person is good in sales and marketing. And there's a synergy, but you don't really want to be in business together. So you know, ultimately, you want to make that decision to say, "Well, if I didn't have something changed, or is it time for one of us to step away, because I want to, just doesn't want to be in the business." And again, this is why you want to build that discipline to say, "Well, if I'm going to lose a key person, how is this going to continue?" Because you know, it isn't about the label, it's about the job to be done. And you know, you want people who were invested in the company, who wanted to want to be a part of it, as opposed to "let's just be useful for each other."

Kathy (host):
Yeah, going back to that whole section of succession planning that we started with. And also making sure that I always like to see the business running on systems and processes versus directly on people. Because then when you have a system and process, you can move people around, obviously, you want to have the right people in the right places, but should something happen to them, they want to leave, or maybe they just don't want to work for you anymore. Or maybe there's an argument, you're not hurting when you need to put another person in place and you're not looking for a unicorn, you're looking for a specific, a specific type of skill set that is going to be able to do that job.

Bob (guest):
That's a great point, the unicorn, how many people have said, "You know, the plan is in my head", right? And I started my career writing procedures, you know, and it was just about writing good procedures. You don't have to be eloquent with words, just write it, try it out yourself, give it to somebody, say, "Does this make sense? Can you follow it?" And it doesn't matter what function it is, whether it's the operational stuff, or whether it's finance, you write good procedures, it's like a recipe book, anybody can follow. You just do it incrementally along the way, you don't, don't wait till Sunday night to do it. And this is how it is, I call it the "company book of knowledge", it's a great thing to do. And it really is, it's how you can literally give away your job and 18 more people can do it following you. And maybe even do it better because of what you laid in terms of the foundation with that book of knowledge and those procedures. It's a powerful thing. 

Kathy (host):
And it's a living, breathing organism. It's not something that when I was in the corporate world, we used to have these stacks and stacks of manuals in our storage room. And there were complete us that offered by the time that you put a procedure in and was already completely outdated. And no one really looked at that. So making sure that if you do have these processes and procedures that you understand that they're going to develop as the business develops, you know, continuous improvement, you always want to figure out how you can do something better. And you're updating those as well and it doesn't take like hours and hours and hours on end. It can be just a couple of things that you're tweaking. And but it's so important to keep those updated. And you know, nowadays, you don't even have to print that out everything is essentially on the computer, it's in the cloud and you can just do it real fast versus like we did it in the old days.

Bob (guest):
I'll give you a fun example of how it related to variation. So because I, you know, Mister aggressive learner here, I organized an independent study program. In my second year, I used all my vacation days and about $11,000 to study with a former colleague of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, you know, father of statistical process control. So this consultant, his name is Dr. Harold Heller, he shared with me one of his consulting projects and how it literally came down to a procedure. This rubber manufacturing plant was wildly out of control variation. The process was terrible. He started in a lab and he was just watching people who are drawing samples, you draw this liquid in a beaker, come inside a lab and just, you know, test it, make any adjustments. You watched the first person, take a sample, drop it in the ground, brush off the dirt, come inside and test the contaminated sample, right, and make unnecessary changes. The next person came in, brought the sample and it was uncontaminated, but then set the beaker down and ate lunch and then tested it after lunch. So he went to them after about two days and said, "I think I found your variation, that people aren't following the procedure for testing the material and process." So you don't even have to write it down. It's like, "Do we all know this? Do we understand how important it is?" And you know, "This is you are a critical person here" and really give people the importance of what they do. And just say it out loud. I mean, this is not whimsical, this is really important. And just make it, you know, this is how it's almost like, it's like teaching people how to breathe, like this is it. We don't have to write this down. This is just the way we do it and just buy into it. And then you know, just let people teach each other that way. But yeah, it's almost like the context to say like, this is not some separate thing. This is an integral part of the process. And you're a key here. Yeah, like you said, don't, you know, don't put it in the closet with a book and just to have it documented. It's this is why this is why it's important and instill that culture to help people show each other.

Kathy (host):
Yeah, I think that's the missing key a lot of the time. Sometimes you have things written down, written down really well, that might be updated, but people aren't doing it, because they just don't understand why it actually matters. So making sure that people understand why it matters, and why it matters to them, and why it matters to the company. Because even sometimes it comes to that, even the smallest things that an employee does makes a big impact on the company, for example, how you respond to customer service emails, right? I mean, the tone that you use, it's an important part, especially if you want to establish a certain brand, a certain feeling into the company, and attract a certain company, it does matter, those little things matter.

Bob (guest):
I like to say if somebody can sell ice to Eskimos, you can probably teach somebody how to do that, if you're that good. Right? Yeah, there's no reason why you're the only person who can sell ice to Eskimos and it better not be returned in the form of bottled water in the form of a supplier. Because that's, that's, that's another thing, right? But you know, that idea that some person is this unicorn or Rockstar? Well, again, encourage people to say part of your value here is if you know something that other people can benefit from, help them to succeed as well. It's not to your disadvantage to be a teacher.

Kathy (host):
So let's go back into the whole EOS system. And we said, you know, there's a time and place, then it feels like that is going to be restricting, especially when the business grows. And you need more than just integrator. And what's the other one? The integrator and visionary, the visionary and the integrator. Yes, thank you, Bob. What is the alternative to EOS? Or is there even an alternative?

Bob (guest):
Again, I think, like you said EOS has its place, I think it has this place of bringing people together with the core values. I think the other part of it is we talked about is I think of it as organizing the collective wisdom in the company. And this is where like, you know, you talked about building disciplines in finance and building discipline in accounting and building discipline in operations and the use of information technology and how do those things work together, because finance is not isolated, finance supports operations. And it's how you plan a budget, you know, and many people don't think about budgets. So this is where what we do with the Blueprint here with The Alternative Board is we literally bring that kind of really comprehensive strategic planning that you had met and delegate to many different department executives and people with many years of experience in planning to say, "Well, here's how you can do it." And it's a smaller scale, but it's that same interconnected discipline to say, "This is what it would take to create the CFO position. And maybe it begins with a fractional CFO. But first, you have to start with what's the good accounting? And how do you know, you know what your investments are going to be? Do you have good accounting in place? Do you even know where the cash is coming in and going out?" I mean, you got to start with that good information. And same thing with operations and sales and marketing, people sometimes think "marketing is just I throw money into the air to get attention, and it drives sales, or maybe it doesn't." And same thing, you know, what do you expect from the marketing and if the marketing is successful, and drives a certain amount of sales? Are you capable of handling those sales and servicing those customers? And it's those interrelated conversations. That is what we're doing here. Because just like we talked about, you know, people are our witnesses to many different aspects, and they have certain strengths. And what we're trying to do is to help people understand what it means to plan for a legitimate marketing budget, what is marketing execution? What are your customers care about? You can do many things, you know, you can post on social media platforms. But if your customers aren't there, then who cares? Don't do that, you know. So that's what we're trying to do is to build these disciplines and create this learning organization. And through the planning exercises, again, people build, add their wisdom of what they've learned from their customers and from each other. And this is how businesses learn together. So the idea is, rather than focusing on just talking about the feeling kind of stuff, which is good, the values are good, the feeling that we got to get in the weeds, and we got to build discipline here and kind of do this kind of stuff that might be a little bit awkward and messy, and we might struggle and might look like we don't know what we're doing, but we're gonna figure it out. And going through that exercise actually brings people together, it's kind of like, you know, kind of foraging for food together in the forest, you know, you're, you're going to forage and then you're going to eat together, and you're going to share this meal together. And this is, this is how you grow a company from five to 10 million without going broke, because you need more discipline than ever.

Kathy (host):
And you know, the other thing that keeps popping up for me too, is clarity, there needs to be a certain level of clarity that gets muddled as the business grows. And in every single step you it's almost like you're you're crossing this bridge, and they're like the steps stones in between, and the water gets muddled. But then you rest on this stone, get some clarity, and then you go to the next phase. And then again, because you have grown so much the water gets muddled. Again, you need more clarity, right?

Bob (guest):
Yeah, it's true. The more you work on the clarity, you know, from one step to the other, the more you have something to work with, as opposed to as you're growing in the company. If you don't know what your drivers are of success, or you don't know, you know what real profit margins are with your offers. How do you know if you're making the right choices, or even working with the right customers? I mean, you might be pleasing people. But I mean, if you're, if you're not at 10% profitability, you're really already losing money, because you don't really have any to invest. Anyway, it's kind of the new breakeven point is my accounting professor taught me.

Kathy (host):
Bob, this has been a great conversation, you're if someone is listening to this, and they're like, we've talked a lot about different things that are very, very important for the business as growing. But if they are trying to build this new level of the business, they have outgrown what is out there already, that's available to them, especially in the you know, the whole EOS system. What is the next step that they can do?

Bob (guest):
I would say the next step would be to think beyond the labels. Think beyond the visionary, the integrator and think about what you really need for this company to survive without those two people, what would it take to make this whole company greater than the sum of its parts? Because those two people are great. Now, if they can do that, who are they willing to teach to say, "I'm going to go on a three week vacation and you take over this ship", because that's a process. That's not going to happen overnight. But if you can see, so if you can, it's like the analogy, if you can see ahead 10 miles as the visionary and you can watch out for that snake 10 feet ahead as the integrator, when you're walking on that trail in Colorado, you can teach other people how to do that. And that's how you start forming an executive team.

Kathy (host):
Awesome. Bob, where can people find you?

Bob (guest):
People can send me an email anytime at bob@tabnorthshore.com or visit us at our international website, thealternativeboard.com

Kathy (host):
Awesome Bob, thank you so much. All of these are actually going to be in the show notes. So if you want to contact Bob, please do so, it is going to be in the show notes. Thanks so much.

Bob (guest):
Thank you so much, Kathy.

Why do companies often find succession planning challenging?
The optimal time to start succession planning
What are the signs that indicate the need to build an executive team?
Balancing loyalty and performance within your teams
How to build an executive team and internal vs. external recruitment for executive positions
How can businesses effectively manage change within their organization?
Building bridges between departments helps with change management
Using employee insights to drive innovation when addressing customer needs
What are the limitations of the EOS framework as a company grows?
The importance of documented procedures for maintaining consistency during growth
The next step to take when exploring alternatives to EOS