Building a G.R.E.A.T. Company

    Over the past 30 years of working with CEO’s, business owners, and senior executive teams, I have learned the key components to design and grow great small to mid-sized companies. Follow my posts over the next couple weeks to learn all about how to make your company a G.R.E.A.T. one.    ...

What’s the Future Worth?

The million-dollar question is this: what, from a business perspective, is being green worth? Will customers be attracted to environmentalism and pay for it? I have watched leadership groups gasp in horror at the thought of being seen as “tree huggers.” As a recovering hippie who listens to Rush Limbaugh, I don’t think being a tree hugger is such bad a thing. But for some executives, this connotation apparently carries horrific implications—might they be turning into … hippies? Is it the possibility of taking drugs and wearing tie-dyed shirts that scares them? Is it that they think listening to the Grateful Dead is mandatory? In fact, this is a generational issue. Executives in their 50’s and 60’s are environmentally sympathetic; we all want fresh air and clean water. However, this age group tends to have parameters around how far they will allow their companies to go toward sustainability. Meanwhile, employees in their 20’s and 30’s—whom I will affectionately call “Enviro-Fanatics”— find great excitement in environmental development. They are passionate about moving sustainability initiatives forward and tend to be extremely motivated by making a difference. This generation perceives that it has more at stake in the environment and the future. If an organization goes in a sustainable direction, it can build employee loyalty as well as public goodwill. If you are looking at whom to put in charge of researching environmental initiatives, it is the younger group. They will find the options and possibilities. The older set of business managers and executives will think it through and implement, and the younger set will do the passionate heavy lifting. Both will lead...

Make Green from Being Green

In honor of earth day on April 22, our next blog series will feature some tips for creating more sustainable business practices. Let’s start this series of posts with a disclaimer: I do not consider myself an expert in sustainability. However, I probably know enough to be dangerous. In my view, sustainable business practices means your business is conducted in such a way that it can exist without being environmentally destructive. At the very least, environmental neutrality is what your company wants to achieve. An even better aspiration is to positively impact the environment. There are dozens, hundreds of ideas, large and small, that organizations can implement to positively impact the environment. Additionally, your company can make money as you create a green reason for customers to buy from your organization. When real dollars can be made from environmentalism, then environmentalism is good for you and good for business. This epitomizes “making green from green.” Learn more about CMI...

Green On!

I strongly encourage your organization to adopt a direction towards sustainability. This is not a political statement but one that reflects the reality of the times. Of course, there needs to be authenticity. Just saying you are sustainable by your attempts to recycle is not sufficient. If there is not sincerity in the actions your company takes, customers will see this for what it is: an attempt to take advantage of the latest fad. By the same token, you do not need to be perfect. This is a new direction for mainstream businesses, and there will be mistakes and false starts. The payoff for attempting to create a net zero environmental impact is worth it. For example, a client of ours recently installed solar panels on its roof. The electricity generated will not be much—maybe enough to power their offices. They are in the Midwest, after all, which is known for long overcast winters. These solar panels, however, look impressive and have great buzz value. Supporting the solar industry also creates a feel-good value for the company. Five years ago, solar panels were not recommended for Chicago, but now, after dramatic improvements in price and function, they make sense. The panels will pay themselves off in ten years. Make this year your “green” year. Consider your options in manufacturing, packaging, and recycling products. Think about the savings you can achieve from a green facility. Research government grants and funding available for sustainability initiatives. Look to see where, by cutting costs and differentiating your products, you can make green from green. When your customers see the value that your environmental...

Let’s Spring Ahead with CMI’s Team Building Programs!

  Let’s Spring Ahead with CMI’s Team Building Programs!   Spring is just around the corner! As the weather gets nicer and everyone emerges from a state of cabin fever have you noticed … Productivity slowing down? Employees seeking more time out of the office? Less than outstanding customer service? Cranky attitudes on the job?     This year, be proactive. Get your team together for a morale boost and learning opportunity with one of CMI’s team building programs. At CMI we are constantly coming up with ways to stay ahead of the changing seasons in the Midwest. It’s not too late to schedule an event to kick off the spring/summer season!    Here are some ideas for outdoor events: Team building in local parks or at the beach Outdoor team rope courses or rock climbing activities Team building Kayaking Team Building Orienteering Adventures   For more information please contact us at (708) 383-7970. To start the planning process, contact me, Bruce Hodes, CEO and Facilitator Extraordinaire! I am eager to assist...

Book Review by Bruce – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

One of the most provocative leadership books that I have recently read is Extreme Ownership:  How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.  While the message of the book is not foreign to me, how the authors delivered the message and explained it was.  The authors are two veteran Navy Seals who served and led troops in Iraq.  While the stories of their combat experiences were riveting, it at times became for me a glorification of war and America’s role in Iraq.  With that said, I did find that they made a very compelling case for a leader taking ownership for whatever situation they find themselves in.  Taking Extreme Ownership was the place that they invited leaders to come from as a powerful context from which to produce results. Given the blame game that we are seeing many of our National leaders play, this message of taking extreme ownership no matter what is quite refreshing.  The book, through its chapters, outlines various principles of leadership in a clear and simple fashion.  These principles are then illuminated by stories gleaned from the war in Iraq.  I particularly like their illumination of leadership as either effective or ineffective and that the team is either successful or not.  The opportunity for leaders is to acknowledge mistakes and learn from failure.  If you are looking for a fast paced read with a powerful and provocative message of taking responsibility for whatever you are facing and dealing with, then this book will be valuable.  I recommend it.  Please let us know what you think about it and we look forward to hearing...

Check this out! Bruce’s Latest Article – “It All Impacts – Just be Nice…” published by Young Upstarts!

Our planning session was occurring and there he was.  A Hilton employee quietly entered with copies in his hand.  He was the red headed front desk guy who told me he would make copies.  My plan was during the break to go and pick them up, and then there he was.  Bright, cheerful, and bringing added value.  That put him and the San Diego Hilton Garden Mission Valley on the fast track to be my favorite hotel.  He was nice. The taxi was green…it stands out in my memory as green is my favorite color.  He was early for my six o’clock departure and efficient as the bag ended up in the trunk.  I made a call and then we talked.  He was very much a perfect cab driver.  Car was clean and a Prius.  As I exited at the airport, he fist bumped me, gave me his card, and told me to call when needed.  I will.  He was nice. Read...

It All Impacts – Just be nice….Observations of a bald guy

Our planning session was occurring and there he was.  A Hilton employee quietly entered with copies in his hand.  He was the red headed front desk guy who told me he would make copies.  My plan was during the break to go and pick them up, and then there he was.  Bright, cheerful, and bringing added value.  That put him and the San Diego Hilton Garden Mission Valley on the fast track to be my favorite hotel.  He was nice. The taxi was green…it stands out in my memory as green is my favorite color.  He was early for my six o’clock departure and efficient as the bag ended up in the trunk.  I made a call and then we talked.  He was very much a perfect cab driver.  Car was clean and a Prius.  As I exited at the airport, he fist bumped me, gave me his card, and told me to call when needed.  I will.  He was nice. It’s five in the morning, I am downstairs at the Double Tree in a foreign land.  The sign says coffee from the coffee maker $2.00 a cup.  I get a cup and go to work at the bar.  Sandy haired middle-aged night desk clerk comes up and says “coffee on me sir.  I cannot stand that you must pay”.  I say, “it’s free at other Hilton properties” and he says “but not here; you are a good customer and you must pay”.  Then he said, “not with me you don’t”.  Now that is being nice, and he and his hotel just won my heart… In these cases, the...

Get a brand new BHAG

BHAG’s – Big Hairy Audacious Goals – are a term you hear frequently in the business world. Some leave the “hairy” off and just refer to BAG’s, but I like leaving the hair in. Maybe it’s a jealousy thing. In any case, a BHAG is a 5 to 10-year stretch goal that should light people up and fill in what is missing within the organization. BHAG’s are unreasonable, yet still possible; Collins and Porras say that a BHAG should have a 70 percent chance of fulfillment. I have seen value for organizations in simply rolling around in this BHAG territory. It allows a leadership team creative freedom to put some positive, bold goals in front of the organization. To begin the BHAG process, sit around in loincloths and smoke a peace pipe with some very special tobacco. As the smoke wafts to the top of the corporate wigwam, imagine what the company could produce and become. Okay.…in reality sit in your business-casual uniform in a generic conference room at the company or some other meeting place and imagine what the company could produce and become. The first part of creating BHAG’s for your business is to ask the leadership group to brainstorm worthwhile goals for the organization. These goals should, by their very nature, require employees to demonstrate the organization’s reason for being and values. (See? It is all coming together.) An example of this is my plastics manufacturing client. The company’s BHAG was to prove that its model of manufacturing could thrive in the United States. Achieving this BHAG required the organization to live out of its values...

Creating the Reason for Being

Here are some ways that the leadership group can create a powerful and relevant Reason for Being (aka mission/vision statement).  Some of the following thinking and exercises were inspired by an article called “Building Your Company’s Vision,” by Collins and Porras, the authors of “Built to Last.” When the senior leadership gets together to create the company’s mission/vision statement (from here on I’ll refer to it as the Reason for Being) ask them to consider the following and write their answers on paper, preferably flip chart paper with a sticky side that allows for easy posting: 1. What is the purpose of your organization? You want participants to ask themselves what is unique about the organization. What does the organization do that truly matters to customers, employees, and other stakeholders? How does the organization make “the difference?” 2. What would be lost if the organization ceased to exist? Here, you need to dig into the question: if our unique, special organization were not here, what would our customers, the community, and, for that matter, the world is losing? If the group needs a scenario, tell them that the company was bought and the new owner simply mothballed the business. All employees were given a severance. What has the world lost by this organization no longer existing? 3. Repeat this process five more times with slight variations: if the organization ceased to exist, what would be lost for employees, customers, vendors, society, and the world? This question gives participants insight on the impact their organization has on its customers, employees, and communities. Provocative answers rise to the surface. One of my plastics company...