INTRODUCTION TO GDC
As a business owner, CEO, consultant, board member and over 30 years’ experience in operations, branding, process optimization, and project quality management, I have witnessed innumerable companies who meet or fail to meet, the expectations established by the board, executive management, and the client. In many cases (including my own business), they may require a boost of energy in the form of ideas, systems, new talent, and innovation to sustain business growth in highly competitive industries. In other cases, a larger re-engineering of their management system may be necessary, but the basic principles are the same. Regardless of the circumstance, there is a common theme that determines whether or not companies succeed, and that is the presence or absence of a Growth-Driven Culture (GDC).
To become a GDC, you should consider the magnitude of the deployment:
Once you determine the change necessary to achieve the goal, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do we have personnel with the skills, desire, and authority to accomplish the goal?
- Can we create a vision, with core values that are timeless, adaptable, and meaningful to your staff and partners?
- Are we willing to confront the objective facts?
- Do we understand the organizational impact of building a delivery system that assures repeatability and conformance to the client partnership?
- Do we understand the level of transparency to create a culture that pursues perfection and protects the brand?
A Growth Driven Culture is more than a department and encourages cross-functional teams to understand a corporate culture based on core values and purpose that inspires continuous improvement. It is a bi-directional connection of people, processes, ideology, and data across the value chain. To become a GDC, you need to consider several critical steps in the process:
- Determine the extent to which you possess a GDC: The depth of the investigative process will depend on your company and your need for solutions, i.e., there is a significant difference between a tactical decision to develop a new product, or enter a new market, compared to a process optimization solution. Either way, developing a sustainable growth business requires people at every level of the organization to have a desire to create a culture willing to pursue greatness.
- Place the right people on the team: There are no distinctions here between setting up an optimization team or a company moving towards greatness. In the book, “Good to Great” by Jim Collins, the common theme that all great companies possess is “Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought, and Disciplined Action.” Companies willing to transition from a culture of reaction to a culture of constant renewal understand that people are the single most important asset to the organization. These organizations are intentional about recognizing employees who are self-motivated, can work independent, and more productive. When people are autonomously motivated, their behavior will be more creative, they will be better problem solvers, and they will perform better. Also, studies have proven that autonomous motivation lends itself to more positive emotions and is associated with improvements in both physical and psychological health and well-being.
- Embrace objective analysis and adapt: Transitioning a company to a changing market place or resolving conflict requires an accelerated process of root-cause investigation to identify the changes necessary in the management delivery systems. It is this “closed-loop system” that allows for excellence to change throughout the organization by leveraging cumulative knowledge without the inefficient operating silos that typically reduce operational effectiveness, add frustrations, and often increase the risk to the organization. It enables objective investigations with careful testing and constant analysis, and it is driven by a relentless approach to eliminate waste and variability, with every point of data being accountable and traceable with metrics to capture and learn.
- Driven beyond customer satisfaction: Growth driven organizations are fully committed to understanding what the client wants and to aggressively investigate why they want it. They are ever in pursuit of their satisfaction. It’s a process that engages the right people/right skills at the right place in time, with the authority to implement change to a given process. It creates a customer delivery team through all disciplines to build a coordinated focus in real-time with lifetime value throughout the delivery process of a product or service. And finally, it's agile, acts quickly and responsibly with a life-cycle application that affirms the client relationship from one project to the next.
- Measuring success: Quantifying performance of companies initiating a cultural transition is a closely held measurement, and not easily translated to other companies moving through a similar process. While I have my own experiences in understanding and assessing the value of a business optimization process, I will default to Jim Collins for the most reliable, scalable and objective performance statistics I’ve seen in my 30 years as a CEO and Consultant. His data, while somewhat mature being published in 2001, is the single most comprehensive comparison of companies moving from “Good to Great.” We should also keep in mind that these are not a start-up, small, or medium size organizations, but some of America’s largest companies over the past 30 years. These timeless principles are still true today for any size organization who implement them, and the facts are most conclusive.
Case Study: The selection process started with 1,435 companies meeting the established criteria (too lengthy to list in this article), ending with 11 selected into the “good-to-great” set. Each company showed a pattern of “good” performance punctuated by a transition point, after which it shifts to “great’ performance. He defines “great” performance as a cumulative total stock return of at least three times the general market for a period of transition through fifteen years (T+15) with “good” performance return at no better than 1.25 times the general stock market for the same period. Each one of these companies was able to “preserve their core ideology as an anchor point while stimulating change, improvement, innovation, and renewal in everything else. Change practices and strategies while holding core values and purpose fixed”.
THE CLOSED-LOOP PROCESS:
- Assemble a client advocate team from the cross-functional organization. This team may consider people outside the organization, i.e., key partners, clients, consultants to give an alternative perspective should it be necessary. The process is the same if you’re working on new product developments or resolving a problem, Executive Management should create a culture of accountability, transparency, and a sense of entitlement to achieve the goal.
- Assess the current situation, clearly define the objective, and then determine how to measure them. A timetable and cost will be agreed upon by the organization, but there should be a change process available for the team depending on the Goal. Tactical decisions on developing prototypes are likely to be more complex and require more flexibility than repairing a process. Either way, actions taken should be done in the light of creating a “best practice” to re-define your product, service, or industry.
- Map the process. Using a process mapping software makes it easy to create, save, and share your work. In an expedited situation, flowcharts can be created to initiate this process. There are numerous online software tools available for this purpose and can help you create a process flowchart for your personalized application.
- Present the results. The old saying, “it is what it is” is particularly applicable in this collaborative environment. Not only are we looking to create a solution or resolution to immediate crises, but we should also be building a proactive process that is agile and rewarding for the corporation and the team members on the current process as well as future deployments.
- Repeat as necessary. Closed-loop systems never stop growing, changing and adapting. Whether you’re working on tactical change, re-engineering the delivery process, or just re-inventing the corporation through a thematic goal, GDC’s never stop improving their business. It’s about a life-cycle culture that moves a company from “Good to Great.”
In future articles, we will look into more detail of the effectiveness of the GDC; how successful organizations communicate vision and motivate staff; solve the inherent silo building in matrix organizations that divide, frustrate and create inefficiencies in your company/project team; asset integrity management, and the real cost of failure and non-conformances to your company and clients. In different cases, we’ll use internal articles as well as other materials/authors that communicate concepts and methodologies that will give you food for thought to implement change in your organization.
Comments? You can contact me directly via my AdvisoryCloud profile.