Container Store, Jim Collins, Zoom CEO, Zombie jobs, Thinking outside the box, Leadership Team Structure & Living in 2030
7th June 2020 Evolution Partners Newsletter
“If you want to be a clear thinker, you cannot pay attention to politics. It will destroy your ability to think.” – Naval Ravikant
Hope you’re Thriving!
So imagine you are one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic. Imagine that your revenues have sky-rocketed in the past 90 days, and now, it’s time to get on the earnings call with investors and finally release the amazing news.
But, there is one little thing that your product does that annoys all users, and everyone knows it, so whatever you do, don’t let that happen to you on this call.
Well, unfortunately, that did happen to Eric Yuan, founder of Zoom this week on his earnings call, where he was delighted to announce that free cash flow was up 1,541% year on year, but disappointed that he left his mic on mute!
It’s OK, we’ve all done it, and when people do it during Zoom calls now, I happily remind them that if Eric can do it, we all can.
And I have been on a lot of Zoom calls in the past quarter. In fact, next week I have my first quarterly workshop in person since March which is a little surreal, and I’m actually thinking that it won’t be as good an experience as a zoom meeting having just run a two-day strategic planning workshop over the past two days. The point is that I’m suspecting that now we are going to lose something as we transition to in-person meetings again.
Sure, some people run awful online meetings. Forget about that. But for motivated, dynamic winning teams, something has emerged in the past quarter. A new, urgent way of interacting that is difficult to replicate in person.
But when we do go back, if you work in an office things might not be the same again. This article from the New York Times discusses how the C.D.C. is recommending the way we go back to work. And it’s not pretty with things like desks 6 feet apart, plastic shields between desks and no seating in common areas. And face coverings be worn at all times. And no public transport to the office allowed.
In fact, it probably makes more sense to maintain the work from home policy for the time being.
So what should one do? Should one get ‘back to work’ in an office because it’s the right thing to do? Because it’s right? No. There is no substitute for a profitable, cash-flow positive business right now and everything should fall behind that, and risk mitigation (see succession planning from Made to Thrive) should be a very important factor in that. Just because you have gotten bored, or distracted it doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about building a sustainable, profitable, free cashflow business within the aftermath of the worst pandemic and economic hit most people alive have ever seen. In the last 24 hours, there were 129,000 new Coronavirus cases globally, and even though the virus is contained in some parts of the world, the economic impact is still coming and could take until 2025 to fully recover back to January 2020 levels.
One of the habits I have developed over the years is to have delegates in strategic workshops do the 9 dots puzzle 90 days after our first workshop. The reason is to embed as soon as possible with them the concept of thinking outside the box. The concept that without any documented boundaries our brain tells us we must think inside the box, an area that we just can’t be truly creative. This is an area that Kevin Lawrence and I talk about on next weeks (already recorded) episode of The Growth Whisperers, where we discuss how leaders should look between the black ink of contracts or rule books for ingenuity and innovation, especially in these times. One example of thinking outside the box of late is scientists looking at the type of disease the Coronavirus is. Non-medical folk like you and I probably look at COVID-19 and think it is like a nasty flu. Perhaps that it works in the same way that a flu does. But for Mandeep Mehra, medical director of the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Heart and Vascular Center, thinking outside the box brings a new perspective. Say’s Mandeep “If you start to put all of the data together that’s emerging, it turns out that this virus is probably a vasculotropic virus, meaning that it affects the [blood vessels],”. If it is indeed a vasculotropic virus it changes the way that doctors will treat it, and it explains the weird symptoms. Read the medium article here.
Speaking about thinking outside the box, here is an excerpt from an excerpt.
A good friend of mine Mike Goldman, a fellow 3HAG and Gravitas coach whose new book Breakthrough Leadership Team was released in the past couple of weeks, has a really interesting story about Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store.
For context, the book outlines how to structure a leadership team that will succeed – what the attributes are.
From the book
“But what really made The Container Store stand out was Tindell’s attitude toward his employees. In 1999, The Container Store made Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For”—a distinction it held for the next seventeen years. Tindell’s overriding philosophy about people was something he called 1 = 3. This is a belief that one great employee equals the productivity of three good employees. I love this philosophy and have seen it at work. You can pay a superstar double what you pay a mediocre performer, and that superstar will still add more value per labor dollar than the mediocre performer. If you want a great company, you need a great team. Team members that are “good enough” won’t get you there. And when it comes to your leadership team, an A-player’s impact is even greater. A-players in leadership can have more impact than five or even ten mediocre employees because of the number of people that your company leaders influence. They affect the rest of the leadership team, all employees reporting to them, clients, and vendors. Your Breakthrough Leadership Team needs to consist of all A-players. As Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great, “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”
Finally, so much of the work I do is connected to the research and work of Jim Collins. As such I’ve partnered with The Growth Faculty to bring you a virtual event with Jim Collins on the 22nd of July where he will be talking about “Good to Great, what makes good companies tick in uncertain times”. Please see the events information below for further information.
This week on The Growth Whisperers podcast
On episode 8 of The Growth Whisperers, Kevin Lawrence and I talk about the following.
All around the world Governments are paying stimulus to companies to keep people in jobs. But in the coming months, these payments will end and many people will lose their jobs because employers realise they can’t afford them. Brad & Kevin ask what are the zombie jobs in your business, and what you need to do about them.
Living in 2030
Last week the founder of Shopify said we are now living in 2030 because the needs of the customer have changed. The Growth Whisperers discuss what it means for business owners if indeed we have to meet new requirements from the customer.
Kevin and Brad talk about businesses who are reliant on business platforms such as shopping malls or Amazon to provide them customers and why leadership teams need to build relationships directly with customers.
Listen to The Growth Whisperers
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