03
Sep
2011

Getting Ready for Take-Off

I really love to fly!

I get a rush when I am sitting on plane, ready to take off. For me, flights are a kind of bridge between my known life, and the new adventure waiting for me when I land.

Sometimes the adventure is working with a CEO and a 17 member team to identify the reasons for their communications problems, then providing knowledge and tools to fix the breakdowns.  Sometimes it’s working with a CEO who is “drowning” to develop a mission and vision for the company, then helping him or her articulate a set of values that define the company’s culture. And sometimes it’s helping the CEO and team reassess their go-to-market strategies and choose the ones that will provide faster penetration into markets.

I often talk with CEOs about building a bridge between where they are and where they want the company to go. First we assess where the company is now and what’s working/not working.  Next we identify where they want to be.  Then we talk about what they need to do to get from here to there, e.g., develop a new sales strategy; have an honest conversation with an employee who’s not meeting expectations; change the way he or she leads and delegate more . In effect we define the “bridge” the CEOs need to build to get from where they are to where they want to be – the bridge that will position the company for growth.

Most CEOs and employees find the bridge analogy very helpful.  Although they appreciate the need to take stock, some are shocked when they discover that their foundations are pretty weak. Since it doesn’t make sense to build a bridge on weak footings, we first have to strengthen the foundations before we construct the bridge – and that requires change, e.g.,  putting some people on a performance improvement plan, reorganizing departments, getting control of cash flow, or securing capital for growth. Then we create the plan that moves them, step by step, to where they want to be.

As they work their way across the bridge, you can feel the excitement grow:  employees are challenged in new ways; the CEO becomes a more confident leader;  customers are better served; and revenue grows! And when the whole company makes it across the bridge, and the CEO  can tell the employees that they have achieved their goals for the year, there’s an incredible rush.  In fact, it’s almost like sitting on a plane and waiting for take-off to some new adventure!