This week Kevin and Brad talk about the decisions that you must be willing to make in order to build a truly great company.
This isn’t about being ruthless, it’s about being prepared to confront the brutal fact that every leader is confronted with deeply challenging decisions that require action.
They provide 6 different strategies that might help you to think about and work through your tough decisions.
Are you willing to make any decision necessary to make your company great?
Episode 47 – The Growth Whisperers
The Growth Whisperers is a weekly podcast hosted by Brad Giles and Kevin Lawrence two advisors to mid-market businesses, one Australian, one Canadian, who each work with CEOs and Leadership Teams across the world with a mission to build enduring, great companies. Each weekly episode covers interesting situations and questions from the world of strategic planning, leadership development, talent and hiring in high growth entrepreneurial companies where real results matter.
Brad Giles 00:13
Hi there, welcome to The Growth Whisperers where everything we talk about is building enduring great companies. My name is Brad Giles. And as always, I’m joined today by Kevin Lawrence. Good day, Kevin, how are you doing today?
Kevin Lawrence 00:29
You know, I’m doing really good. And I’m kind of thinking about my word of the day. And it’s actually humbled. I was helping my daughter with her homework tonight. And she had to do a whole bunch of research on all the cities across Canada, where we live, and get this the population and the biggest economic drivers and the economy and blah, blah, blah. And she needed help doing your bibliography. So I said, Okay, I’ll help you. So I’m shockingly not like we were in school, there’s a software you where you put the link, and helps you to produce the proper format of the bibliography. So I started doing it. It gave me a headache, because she had like five pages of websites she could use. And I had to go through and do this thing called manual labor, like, and I felt like I would have rather like shovel the pile of gravel in my buddy’s backyard. So I’m have to go copy the link, paste it, go to the website, click do a new entry, hit another button, paste it in, hit enter, click the link scroll, click, scroll, copy this little properly formatted Bibliography entry, and then put it back in the Word doc. And I went through and I was doing this for like, an hour and a half. It felt like I was like being punished. And I you know, by I haven’t done that kind of work in years. You know, I facilitate, I, you know, talk to people, I’ll solve big problems. They’ll do all kinds of stuff. But it was very humbling, like for 90 minutes. And it was everything I could do and I didn’t even finish. And so I’m, I’m humbled and reminded of the hard grinding work that some people do, because that kind of work just kills me. Like, thank God, I’m a leader. So what’s yours, Brad?
Brad Giles 02:32
My one phrase open. And for those of you who are new or missed our last episode, we’re trying to open with one word or one phrase is we encourage people to do in meetings. So my, my opening is, I like big buts and I cannot lie. Okay, now, that’s in the context of meetings. Okay. So what is healthy?
Kevin Lawrence 03:00
Oh, Brad, I’m really curious where this is going. I got a video playing in my head of that song going, Okay, continue, Brad, please. Okay,
Brad Giles 03:10
I got it. So all right. Okay. What is a healthy leadership team look like in the context of big buts? Okay, what it means is that they disagree. Okay, so I’ve had a few instances where we’ve had really healthy debate now. Where is healthy debate come from? It comes from the word but all right. So I want you to imagine, I think, I think I’m imagine we’re role playing and I’m in a leadership team. I think that we should, I think that we should keep that division open. But and that’s a big but. That’s a really big, but because someone wise once told me that when someone uses but in that sort of pivotal point in the sentence, what they’re really saying is the thing I said before isn’t necessarily true. Yes. So I like big buts. And I cannot lie because big buts in a leadership team in a healthy leadership team, I mean, that were really looking into when we analyze those sentences during the conversation, we’re really looking into what it is that we could do. Or the, you know, the, the decisions that could potentially make our company great. The big decisions.
Kevin Lawrence 04:40
Well, this is interesting, Brad, because so we’re gonna have a show about bibliographies and big butts. That’s gonna be really, you know, we got to think that’s not what we’re planning on talking about. But there’s a theme happening here.
Brad Giles 04:53
There is and
Kevin Lawrence 04:53
I get what you’re saying about the big butts about the disagreeing and how powerful that is. And, yeah, and you know, there’s even another methodology, although there’s not a song to match it, where it’s Yes. And instead of but so people don’t feel diminished and backhanded.
Brad Giles 05:12
Kevin Lawrence 05:13
I agree. I love it when people disagree with me and challenge and create constructors I was explaining to somebody on the weekend it’s like, you know, on my team, people disagree with me all the time. And then they challenge a bet and challenge the creation of a better decision. And when there aren’t those big butts, it’s like, oh, yes, that’s great. And then your run right off the edge of the cliff and mess something up.
Brad Giles 05:39
So it may not be the business school definition of a great meeting. But a great meeting will have really big buts in it. Okay. And if you don’t have big, if you don’t have big buts in your meetings, you’ve got to try and find some big buts for your meetings.
Kevin Lawrence 05:59
Now, I’m going to be careful what I say, Okay.
Brad Giles 06:02
I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m talking about the quality of meetings. Understood,
Kevin Lawrence 06:07
yeah, a problem isn’t visual. And you know, there’s a song that has lyrics like that, all that stuff. But yes, I got it. I appreciate that. And we both appreciate that those people. Those people that are good with the big buts are very good at helping to make the right decisions. So we don’t just smile, nod and do something stupid.
Brad Giles 06:28
And what a great segway, you’ve come up with there, into our topic for today. And this is, yeah, this is interesting because we talk about building enduring great companies every week. It’s something we’re deeply passionate about. But there’s a trade off that comes with that we can all want an enduring great, you know, company. There’s another song that talks about, I want to be a billionaire, right? Yeah. So for
Kevin Lawrence 07:01
those listeners, listening to tonight, a song by the Barenaked Ladies a great Canadian band saying, if I had a million dollars, you know, I’d buy you a house. And I, I’d Yeah, Kraft Dinner. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, yeah, all those.
Brad Giles 07:14
So we can aspire to have a great company. But on the back end of that, I you willing to make any decision necessary to make your company great, because to build an enduring, great company, by definition, you’re gonna have to make some really challenging decisions.
Kevin Lawrence 07:37
Yeah, and for most people, they’re also very uncomfortable. And just because there’s, there’s a discomfort, you know, it doesn’t mean it’s the wrong decision. And I was explaining this to my kids today, actually, we’re talking about this. And it’s like, you know, is it even when you get into situations that make you uncomfortable? Do you know you got to step back? And look, is it actually the right thing to do. And if it is, you should push ahead and proceed, right and make if it’s the right thing to do. And that takes a lot of resilience and willpower and commitment to do that. And if you look at the difference between those that are okay, and those that are great, those that are great, make a bunch of tougher decisions, they make decisions that separate their reality from mediocrity. And, you know, and we’ve talked before, and I like using the metaphor of a recreational sports team versus a pro team. Yeah, the pro team, they just make tougher decisions about lots of things. And but whether its practices who gets to play with the regimens are they have, there’s more discipline and tougher decisions made. So it’s a big thing, it sounds so simple, but you know, all day long, we’re involved in that.
And I was just, you know, with a, with a CEO, this week, we had a full day with all of his different business units. And we went through it all. And we came with a list of the end. And you know, in the sessions that I’ve worked with him for years, he’s an awesome, awesome CEO got a really excellent company, always pushing for greatness. And but at the end of the day, I summarized, I think it’s eight key decisions that we made, or agreed we will make in the next few months. And as a result, I will now have this list, I keep this list, and I will make sure we talk about it every time we talk to make sure those decisions get followed through because each of those decisions will make a notable improvement in his company. And each of the decisions has a couple of million-dollar impact on the bottom line over the next couple of years. But they’re the big ones. There’s a whole bunch of little ones I don’t even bother tracking but I’m always, you know, as a coach, you’re hunting for those big doozies that are game-changers. And I like both of us are more strategic in our approach. But you know, people need help with those things. That’s where we add a lot of value because people often have a hard time one making the decision on their own, ie intellectually deciding, or secondly, maybe executing on that decision.
Brad Giles 10:08
And one of the things that I’m interested in this area is loyalty, because loyalty to people, or to processes, or even loyalty to departments or customers can actually really be a huge hindrance here. The loyalty that you’ve got to an individual who is underperforming over the long term can be a real problem. Now, last week, we spoke about the seven people decisions from Jim Collins, and that was a great episode, I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that if you haven’t. And that’s really digging down into the people section of tough decisions. But herewith we’re kind of going up and we’re saying across the whole business, if you want to build a great business, there are some really challenging decisions that you have to make, and you must be prepared to make if you want to live out that dream of building a great company.
Kevin Lawrence 11:11
Yeah, and you touched on something here about loyalty, Brad, and I call it loyal to a fault. And the majority of founding entrepreneurs I’ve worked with are loyal to a fault. Now, there’s other ones that are psychopaths, those are not as common in the entrepreneurial organizations we work with, although they’re there, the loyalty to a fault. And it’s basically that they’re, you know, they’re loyal to the one person that’s been with them for a dozen years. Yeah. And unfortunately, there’s a massive cost to the rest of the organization and even to them. So you know, yeah, loyal, I’m a loyal person by nature. And, loyalty to a fault is a real trap. And it clouds people’s decision making. And it’s, it’s, you know, it’s one of the techniques that we use to help this. And I use this all the time to unpack really hard decisions. Yeah. Let’s decide on what, but not contemplate how, how creates way more stress, all the execution stuff, it’s always messy and a nightmare on the big stuff. You just got to decide what at a principle level. And then once you’re done that and you’re committed, go to work on how to make it the best you can, when you mix what and how together, you’re in trouble, because you’re not going to get there. So why don’t we drop into our lists here, Brad, and I just messed up something on my screen. So all of our episode notes disappeared. For me.
Brad Giles 12:43
That’s alright, I may possibly be able to help them. So let’s get back. We’ll start with the question. Okay, the question being, are you willing to make any decision necessary to make your company great, then we fall into the first point, which is really well, you have to accept that there is a trade off when you decide to be great. If you want to run a mediocre company and get mediocre profits, and you know, going skiing or going out on your boat, or, you know, living a luxurious lifestyle is more important, that’s fine. But if you decide to be great, there is a decision that you’re making with that, that there’s a trade off, and you’re going to have to make a lot of really tough decisions. So just accepting that to begin with.
Kevin Lawrence 13:30
Yes, and it’s if you decide that you play whatever sport you like to do for fun, if you play a recreational sport, or do a recreational activity, if you decide you want to be on the national team, there’s a higher level of commitment, you’re going to have to train harder and be more focused and, and do tougher things. In order to get there. I’ve got a friend of mine, his son is about the same age as my son just moved to California to join a racecar program, which is a massive thing. Yeah, but you’re, you’re I’m going to get the age wrong, but he’s my son 17. he’s a similar age. And the kids now living in California, because he can’t go back and forth, because of all the COVID stuff, ya know, amazing thing and what the discipline and the commitment that this kid and his family have put into this is amazing along the way. So yeah, it’s a different level of commitment to be able to, to do that. And you got to be ready for those decisions. And, you know, if you if it’s what you want, it’s worth it. It’s just a higher level of almost accountability and commitment required.
Brad Giles 14:37
Yeah. So let’s look at an extreme level. It’s the concept of burn the boats. Yeah, it’s not necessarily business related. It goes back to 1519 when a Spanish Captain landed in Mexico, with the aim of converting or wiping out whichever way you view it, the as ticks. The Long story short is some of his crew thought that this wasn’t such a good idea after they landed and realized how resilient the locals were. And so they thought it’d be a good idea to jump on a boat and go back to Spain. Yet, of course, the captain thought that wasn’t such a good idea. And he instead wanted them to stay, I found it difficult to persuade them. And so he set fire to all of the boats, so that they couldn’t take one boat. And then they were all stuck together to convert that land to their way of Spanish thinking. And so that’s where the phrase burn the boats come from, I’m certainly no expert in history, and I’ve probably done it a great disservice. My apologies for that. But that’s a difficult decision, you look at any really successful person. And, you know, it may seem that it’s easy, but they’ve made some really, really tough decisions along the way. And you just got to know that this is coming and be prepared for it.
Kevin Lawrence 16:06
Yeah. And they’re willing to take the account will be accountability for willing to take a risk. So a question to consider and we’ll go through a question on each of these is, you know, what is it that you need to be willing to accept that you’re dealing with in terms of your journey towards greatness, right? What is the thing that you might be frustrated by or resisting or just not happy about, when in reality, that’s just part of the game, you’ve actually decided you want to play. And it’s almost like if you want to play a sport, like American football, or soccer, sometimes you got to play in the rain. And that’s not as much fun for some people playing and rain. But that’s just that’s part of what it is. So what do you need to accept, and be willing to just basically absorb it and push forward, and then and continue to make those critical decisions? So let’s, let’s go to number two. And you know, and you know, the great thing about this, about making these decisions, or making any decision, is it gives you the freedom to think about things being absolutely amazing, like spectacular, because, because you’re not being held back by mediocre thinking and kind of benchmarks of averageness. You know, you’re just I hate best practices as a term, oh, we’re gonna go and get the best practices. Okay, so we’re gonna go and get all the common stuff that everybody else does, which is the middle of the road, we’ll call that mediocre. There are best practices, ie someone that is the highest revenue per person, profit per person, or efficiency. But when generally when people go and look for best practices, they’re picking average practices, we’ll get into this a little bit later in another one of our points. But the appointment you get, you get to really free up your mind and envision what absolutely spectacular is just many ways, you know, taking yourself from typical fun level of activity or sport to the national team or the international level of competition in something, and it frees you up to just open your mind. Because, you know, sometimes you got to make decisions, if you’re going to do that about maybe you got to dramatically change the product or kill off a product line. Maybe you change your business model, maybe you change the customers you focus on, maybe you could do, you could acquire another division, you could open in a country or close in a country, you, you know you there’s all kinds of things you can do. But it opens up your mind to thinking of whatever it takes.
Brad Giles 18:40
Whatever it takes that’s right. And if you’re thinking at the local level, it’s a great filter to be able to say, are we thinking at the local team level or the you know, the National, let’s say Premiership team winning level, you know, you can’t win a Premiership unless you do these types of things. So so it helps you to think like that. But the other side of that coin is that then you’ve got to make that tough decision. So there’s a person I’m working with at the moment, and we’ve got a small part of their business, let’s say it’s 10 to 20% of their business, maybe even less. And it kind of they can make a case that it kind of aligns with part of their broader strategy. It’s a legacy, again, we go back to loyalty, it’s a legacy part of the business. There’s only a couple of key clients that use that area of the business, but the gross margins significantly lower, let’s say 10 to 20%, lower in that part of the business, and all of our strategic energy is going into the main part of the business. Okay, so that loyalty again, is working against this decision. It’s a legacy. They feel like that Let the customers down. There’s employees in there. But we can’t really become the best at that main area of the business. Unless we stop doing that first or that, that other part of the business. And that’s a really tough decision to make. Because the employees would say, well, we do make money here, not as much. But I’ve got my job here. And we’re going to we’ve got great relationships, and we’re going to let the customers down, and then they’re going to talk about the core values. And this is the challenge that we’re talking about today. Which is, are you really prepared to make the tough decisions to build a great company? Because this company can’t be great if they hold on to that legacy? part of the business?
Kevin Lawrence 20:48
Yeah, so the CEO did some work with his team in India in a company and they provided services to Microsoft. And they were a Microsoft partner. And you know, it’s interesting, when AI started to come along, it was going to be the next big thing and software. And no one was really experts in the world. And they wanted to become experts in AI as and tying in to things like for companies like Microsoft. So I was over in visiting the team in India, and the CEO told me some stuff, and I didn’t quite, I believed it, because he’s an honest, straightforward guy, but I had to see with my own eyes, you know, they decided they made one decision that was game changing. Now, he had been with us in one of the Jim Collins study tours we’d done and he was insanely committed. But one of these he did is the whole leadership team, not just the executive was spending three hours a day learning three hours every single day on top of the day job learning because if you think about it, there wasn’t there. All the the leading and bleeding edge stuff around AI, it’s spread all over the world, there’s not one place, you can go and become an AI Master, because it was so new. So they were studying everything possible three hours a day. So they could dramatically increase the capability of the team and the company, and continue to be an outstanding partner to their very important partner. So these are those are, those are damn big decisions. And most people would not make that kind of decision and commitment to make a hard core. And it’s not just a pivot, a hardcore development of new capabilities in an organization. And it’s not just the leaders pointing down to people on the frontlines to work harder, the leaders have to step up and give you another 20 or 30% discretionary effort to be successful.
Brad Giles 22:43
What I love about that is that this isn’t a cut. Okay, so we’ve spoken from this context about, you know, dismissing someone or closing a part of a division. But what you’re saying here is, the tough decision is we need to do three hours of learning every day, the whole leadership team so that we can develop the core competency in this area. So that’s really an as we want to be the best in the world. We’re committed to being the best. Yeah. Which is awesome. Because when we’re saying, Are you prepared to make the tough decisions? A lot of people would say, Well, can we just hire someone? Can we just like, buy that in or something. But to know that we want to be the best is the tough decision.
Kevin Lawrence 23:32
Right? And it is, you’re almost committing yourself to a level of labor and suffering, kind of like I felt today helping my daughter with a bibliography. You don’t want to make your day suffers longer term any, the team, many of them may like to learn about but yeah, it’s powerful the root of it is you get to thinking about your free your mind up to think about everything being amazing. Just like the national team level versus the beer league that plays for fun.
Brad Giles 23:59
But that really brings us into the third point. That’s a great segue into all about segways today. Did you know off topic, the person who founded the Segway actually died driving a Segway he went on I cleared God. But yeah, anyway, that’s my apologies. Let’s get back into where we’re at. Look at number three is looking at the game changing decisions or opportunities that will help you win in the next three 5, 10 years. So if you’re going to win, however you define when if you’re going to build a great company, if you’re going to build a strategy that is different from the competitors and gives you a unique and valuable position in the market that is different from your competitors. That involves a whole range of tough decisions.
Kevin Lawrence 24:54
Yeah, it does. And they’re not easy and that’s the key. We talked in a previous point. Is freeing up your brain to be able to think about these things. And truly, when you also need the time to have the strategic perspective to be able to decide on these things. Now go back to this, there’s so many examples of this. But you know, Intel, as Intel was growing, they made a decision to get out of the commodity space, have memory chips and focus on processors. Right now the whole Intel Inside became their solitary obsession. And it was just a side note what’s fascinating. Now, last time I looked, Intel was running about 80%, gross margin on those chips, 80% gross margin. Like that’s not a software. It’s not a SaaS company. It’s a manufacturing organization, just outstanding business. But they it was that, that that for them that discipline, to remain very focused on the one area that they saw mattered most, and getting rid of, and you hear of companies all the time selling off divisions and stuff like that, which is, which is great, but those are big decisions. And you know, I there’s one, one company that I worked with, for a while I really liked the CEO, good guy, second generation into business. Ah, he wouldn’t make the game changing decisions. Yeah, there was a couple of fundamental flaws in the business one in particular, in terms of structure slash business model, he wouldn’t do it. And I finally sat down and said, hey, look, you know, it’s really nice, helping you, you will not, the business will not get any better. Yeah, it’s gonna Bumble along like this, it will continue to be a burden for you, it will continue to be a lot of work and not fun. Because you fundamentally have the business structured in a way that does not make sense, it creates internal conflict, that rises up to you. And so you will always have to be involved. So we discussed it, I, I tried a number of times, I do not give up easy. And I really liked the guy. And if you call me today and still talk to him, I just find that you need to, we need to stop this, you’re wasting your money, because it won’t get better. And the thing that makes the call
Brad Giles 27:11
and the thing about and I’ve had to have those conversations as well, right, and the thing is, it breaks your heart as a coach advisor to have to do that. Because, you know, The reason we get into that this game is to help people like, yeah, you know, we want and we can see the potential. But when people they aren’t prepared to make the hard decisions, that is obvious to everybody around them needs to be made. And they just sit and their loyalty. Again, their loyalty is working against them. The legacy, you know, they’re ineffective as a leader, and it breaks our heart because we only give up after we’ve tried every single possible angle.
Kevin Lawrence 27:58
I agree. And in this case, like I yeah, and he can’t, he can’t help everybody, like people have to be willing to make those tough decisions we can’t make I actually wanted to walk in and fire one of his people for him. Because the guy needed to be fired. And he was suffering. He was failing. He was the organization lost face to faith in him. He was suffering. I actually did once I don’t know if I ever told you this one Brad. I actually did once. counsel us a president to quit. The CEO wasn’t available the CEO, I actually don’t even know what happened. But then primary shareholder CEO. They may have burnt out, I don’t know. But they were not in the country for a long period of time. So we had to keep driving the business. And one day in the middle of the session this the president Wasn’t he was in the way wonderful man I love this guy. Sweet man couldn’t should not be close to being president. I think the CEO had some issues, but the closest person to them in charge. And anyway, long story short, I said when we got to go for a walk. I went for a walk. I met him early in the morning, and counseled him to quit. Because he was he was failing. And it was an awkward situation because I couldn’t talk to the CEO, the CEO was not in communication with anyone. So I had to, and the CEO was 100% shareholder. So I had to counsel and I knew it was the right thing. You know, and I never actually got to talk to them. I never saw the CEO. But it was just like it was someone who needs to make these calls sometimes. Yeah. And this guy knew he just needed the nudge and then somebody else took the role the business ended up getting way better. But it’s hard. I’m not blaming the CEO for that the CEO was was was was off. But the point of it is is that these things have to be dealt with. And normally it’s not our role to do it. But and we’re not always right on these two. So the key point there is look at those game changers. decisions that will make a massive difference. That that might be scary might be hard, but you know, Will. And it’ll help your business to endure and continue to be great. So let’s go to number four, deciding with your strategic mind instead of your ego or pride.
Brad Giles 30:17
Hmm. Yeah, ego is the enemy as the book title says. So if you, so this goes across the realm, like, the tough decisions aren’t only people decisions, as we’ve said, this could be people’s strategy, people decisions, or cash decisions, or execution decisions or strategy decisions, it could be any one of a range of decisions. But many times, you’ve it’s good to ask yourself, Am I not prepared to make tough the tough decisions because of my ego? Or is that getting in the way? So let’s just use a cash decision. Now, maybe what the business really needs is a stronger balance sheet, maybe you need to have, I don’t know, six months or three months worth of cash in the bank to you know, avoid the potential things that happen, I don’t know, like COVID, or there’s always problems that can occur. So to improve the streets, it’s good
Kevin Lawrence 31:31
it’s good to have a war chest.
Brad Giles 31:33
Yeah. So is it your ego, that’s preventing you building that war chest because you want to go and acquire a company because you want to fit out the office because you want to get the new car? Or I don’t know, whatever it is,
Kevin Lawrence 31:49
or you want the new head office with the company name on it, that’s more or who knows, it could be a million different things. Yeah. And it’s, you know, and one of them, one of the CEOs that I worked with was a founder. And what he did in this case, is that he realized he was not the right person to take his company to the next level, he stepped aside and let somebody else run it. Right. And, it wasn’t, it wasn’t that he wanted to step aside, some people want to step back and have someone else run the business. He just realized it just he couldn’t do what the business needed. And so to step aside from your own business, and let somebody else run it, that’s, you know, that’s doing the right thing for the organization. That’s what, you know, Jim Collins would call a real level five leader, doing what’s good for the organization in front of themselves. So there’s lots of those, and those are hard things. And again, there’s the ego, there’s the pride, there’s your fears, whatever emotion comes up getting in the way of it. And that’s why, you know, I talked about earlier, it’s the what, then how, think about what the right decision is, don’t even contemplate how, and deal with how later. But it’s the how and thinking of what it looks like and feels like and how it impacts people that often clouds our decision making. So decide with your strategic mind and not your ego, your ego, or your pride or your or your fear. And that also takes and we’ll talk about this in in in the next one. But it takes being around the right people to help you with some of this stuff and in the right environment. So drop us into number five there, Brad?
Brad Giles 33:36
Yeah, number five, keep calibrated to greatness. Keep experiencing what amazing look like looks like in many different industries and have your team experience the same. So for me, one of the great things that I’ve done through my career is international learning, getting outside of my city, getting outside of my country and going to America, predominantly, to learn at various I mean, I this is the first year that I haven’t traveled to America for learning in over 10 years, probably 11 or 12 years. And I would be doing it once or twice a year on various executive education’s and a whole range of things going and learning what is happening, what is the best in the world, America is the home of capitalism, therefore? Well, therefore they’ve probably got more capitalists therefore they’re probably got more case studies. That’s you know, that’s my basic reasoning. So it’s a certainly a lot more than Perth, Australia, a tiny little town of two and a half million people. My point is look around the industry. Look around the world what is great look like it’s very easy to get boxed into your town.
Kevin Lawrence 34:55
It is in a really affects and narrows your thinking and that’s also what I love about traveling You know, when I travel and work in all kinds of different countries, it opens up my mind to different things and possibilities. And for CEOs. I was the CEO last week. And they were saying yes, so when I was doing this Harvard course, and there’s this whole database that she had experienced from what she was learning in this Harvard program, it’s like, because it, it gives her different perspectives, because she’s around different people, and it opens up her mind and, and has you able to see other opportunities. So the key is, is keep connected to greatness, and whether it’s case studies or working with other great CEOs or organizations or, or board members keeping that greatness around you.
Brad Giles 35:40
And then on to number six, look for the brutal facts, the height issues that no one wants to ask, what issues must be addressed, and then identify the toughest ones that matter? And what in terms of they’re tough because they’re their impact, and their relevance? Now, we’ve spoken about the elephants in the room or the brutal facts from Jim Collins before and this really, you know, this is central just saying what are the big issues in the business and never ever letting them go every single quarterly and annual offsite planning session that I do? We’re talking about the brutal facts, and what do we need to do about that in the next 90 days? And I guess the other thing is, what’s the real issue here?
Kevin Lawrence 36:28
Yeah, and what we do even in our quarterly planning surveys, is that we even survey key people in the organization, we ask, what are the biggest brutal facts need to be addressed? We sometimes ask what are the one or two big decisions that must be made, we also asked about the opportunities and all the positive, the good stuff, but it’s the underlying issues that no one wants to deal with. And I tell you what, we build big lists. And as you said, you figure out, we try and prioritize the top few. And then underneath them, we try and get underneath them. What’s the real issue here, like the real core issue before we get too, ahead of ourselves. And we take that into account in all of our planning so that we continually deal with the ugly stuff, and excavate the abuse up and create a culture where we want to know the ugly stuff, so it doesn’t hide over there in the corner and turn into a toxic problem.
Brad Giles 37:17
So going to the title of this episode, are you prepared to make any decision necessary to make this company great, when you embed that type of thinking, what are the big brutal facts, like these things come up, and you need to address them, and you need to, to not let them just sort of rot away on the vine for one of a better analogy.
Kevin Lawrence 37:41
And you create a culture of doing it because people are embarrassed about these things. People don’t like talking about problems and failures and issues. But when you create a culture of, okay, we identify it, we prioritize it, and we deal with the ones that matter most, you can’t deal with them all. But when you start to build that into the ecosystem, because you’re fighting the egos of the people, as well, whether it’s the executives or other people, people don’t like to admit this stuff. And you’re also making it and creating an environment that forces you as the senior leader to deal with these things, which is, what people look to us for is to make those tough decisions. So things don’t get messy. And anyway, as you can imagine, you know, when things don’t get dealt with them, one of the easiest ones is toxic people when those things, those brutal issues don’t get addressed. It affects a lot of other people and creates a lot of headaches for many people, especially those that working with them every day.
Brad Giles 38:37
Let’s good. Okay, so So with all of that we kind of move to close, I suppose. But let’s do a quick review. What we’re saying here is, if you want to build a great company, are you prepared to make any decision necessary to make this company great, because you will be challenged on so many fronts, and just consciously knowing that is a great first point. Our first point is you have to accept that there is a trade off when you decide that I’m going to build a great company, that you will have to make tougher decisions that will challenge the core of your being more than most other people would. Number two, you get the opportunity to think of everything as being amazing as an example is are you in the national team? Or are you in the local, I guess, suburban team? Number three, what are the game changing decisions or opportunities that can help you win? And then what are the tough decisions that you have to make around that or that you are prepared to make around that and that could be selling a division. It could be shutting down, it could be people or cash could be any related in any area. And for knowing that as you move through this, the tough decisions will come from your strategic mind knowing what you need to do and You’ll be challenged by your ego wanting to take control or your pride as well. And five, keeping calibrated to greatness looking around the world and saying what are the great companies doing? And am I prepared to make those tough decisions as well? And then number six is always talking about the brutal facts, what are the things? What are the brutal facts in our organization that we need to know?
Kevin Lawrence 40:28
Great lists. So the thought we’d leave you with is so what are the ugly, tough decisions you’re facing that you really just need to make? Like, what is what’s gone through your mind was the most important thing you need to make a decision on today? figure out the execution tomorrow. All right, well, thanks for listening. This has been the growth whispers podcast with Brad and I’m Kevin, as you know, for the video version, go to youtube.com and search the growth whispers you’ll find us Brad is at www.evolutionpartners.com.au and I am at Lawrenceandco.com. Have a great week.
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