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Posts Tagged ‘strategy’

Do You Stay On The Gas With “Unlimited” Resources…?

March 20th, 2017 Comments off

     It’s been just over four months since I made the jump to start a self-imposed sabbatical to “recharge” and look to define the next chapter after 4.5 years in a hyper growth start-up. In essence, it was 4.5 years training at a redline pace that ultimately demanded a level of moderation, but at a pace that wasn’t mine to control. But what does a hyper-driven and intensely competitive individual do to “recharge” the batteries and spend some much deserved down time do? Well of course you decide to set your sights on doing one of the longest paved climbs in the world, as well as deciding on racing two of the most notable Classic races in Europe that will have no less than a combined 100 kilometers of cobbles between the two events. Those are natural next steps in getting some rest…right?

I’ve always made some pretty strong comparisons between the training for my cycling and the disciplines that have to be practiced in a Corporate environment. While some may balk at the comparison, it comes down to managing the resources you have available, using those resources in an effective manner, while accomplishing the goals or commitments you’ve made to yourself…or others. Let’s look at the very macro comparison of the resources available at a Corporate level versus Personal level. At the Corporate level, imagine having complete open access to the checking account of your favorite VC and being able to deploy those resources in any way you could to your business…ANY way. You can spend anything from $1 million…to $100 million…or more if you felt you needed it. Let’s say you settled on the amount and burned through that spend. What have you been able to accomplish with the deployment of those resources in the end? Have you built a healthy business that has a strong foundation for future growth and have you been able to establish a strong pattern of increasing performance metrics that strike the right balance between aggressive growth, establishing a healthy corporate environment, while positioning the company to deliver on your commitments? General questions, but you get the point.

Let’s talk about the Personal side though. I find myself on sabbatical and all of the sudden I basically have an “open checking account” for training time and can do whatever I want. I can train for 10 hours per week, 20 hours per week…or even 40. However, as with a Corporate environment, there is the same consideration to resources and a healthy foundation as there is for an athlete training for an event. It has to be methodical, planned, sustainable, with appropriate periods of reflection and a tempering of the pace. The attached picture is the actual chart of my training since November and the progressive peaks and subsequent tapering as I move towards my goal of leaving for Europe next week. In the chart the magenta line is the shorter term acute training load while the blue line is the longer term chronic load, which indicates a core fitness base. The yellow line is the fatigue line and the more it dips, the higher the fatigue and time and indication of need to rest. Think of the magenta line as the 200-day moving average for a stock…you can see spikes above the norm, but ultimately it’s going to come back down before hopefully making the next run up. It’s the same concept here. You can see where I’ve had the spikes, but ultimately, you taper down before making the next training push. It’s about finding the right balance, creating a healthy foundation, and continually pushing forward.

Just like the Personal level, there is an equal penalty for “overtraining” at the Corporate level. At the personal level, overtraining can lead to becoming ill, an inability to achieve peak performance, and an extended recovery time to get back to a healthy state of training. In the Corporate environment, the equivalent of “overtraining” is essentially excessive spend, excessive hiring, and a deterioration in the performance metrics of the company. At that point, there’s no choice but to move into a period of recovery to get back to a higher level of performance.

Over the last four month I’ve managed to put in over 9,200 kilometers in the saddle, climb in excess of 300,000 feet, and during that time burn almost 210,000 calories on the bike to achieve that. Again…that’s just in the last four months. Putting 210,000 calories in perspective with some of my favorite foods…

  • Roughly 2,100 packets of energy gel…
  • 131 pounds of pasta…
  • Roughly 1,750 Chobani yogurt cups
  • 1,500 cans of that nectar of the gods…Coca Cola

You get the idea…it’s all about the long game and establishing a strategic and achievable result. Imaging trying to cram all the stats above into a shorter window…say even two months. The likelihood is that you don’t have the proper foundation in place, will overtrain yourself, you’ll likely get sick…and ultimately your fall back weeks or a month…or in the case of a Corporate scenario…potentially losing Quarters due to overtraining.

Happy training my friends…

Jeff

Hyper Growth…Do You Know Your Company CTL Level?

December 22nd, 2016 Comments off

ctl-chartFor my friends and colleagues that know me, they know that I am fiercely driven both in the office…and on the bike. While I’ve tempered the shoulder and elbow bumping criterium racing these days in favor of career preservation, there is no decreased focus in the pursuit of achieving the best results I can on the bike. In fact, it was a laser focus and a very defined training plan that allowed me to achieve a 2014 title win for the SoCal Time Trial Series, which covered more than a dozen races. Some would think that this is a futile pursuit and an endeavor not worth the investment of time. However, I continue to realize the correlations between what happens on the bike and what happens in a corporate environment. It comes down to disciplines, awareness, proper planning, and executing on the strategy that you put in place. There’s no cutting corners, there’s no accidental or chance success…it’s about appropriate planning and execution. Period.

For me, getting out on a bike ride doesn’t mean just heading out for 3-5 hours, plugging in some music, and getting some good exercise. It’s about have a specific plan for that day. It’s about having specific time execution in specific power zones with specific cadence output…and REST in between those efforts. How does this even relate to corporate execution? We don’t go into the office and hope that the Quarter comes together in the last 5-10 days…although we all know this seems to be the case in just about every industry. HOWEVER, we do head into the Quarter with a blueprint that is typically part of a larger annual plan, that has Quarterly quotas, quotas that are supported by the necessary Sales headcount, as well as a host of other preplanned Marketing and operational support elements. While I commit to a daily training plan and see the immediate measurements of that output, that same realization doesn’t happen in a corporate environment. We continue to put in the “training” on a daily basis, but sometimes the runway to actually see the benefit might take a few months…or possibly a few Quarters on a more significant deal. It’s about having a plan and executing against it. A plan that is achievable. You break that plan down into its core elements and you execute against it. Period.

How does this all relate to hyper growth and corporate performance? Very simply…it’s the ability to maintain a sustainable pace that doesn’t overheat the engine, doesn’t waste resources in an inefficient way, and will allow the individuals, and ultimately the team, to cross the finish line…together. In cycling and the tracking of fitness, there are two lines that are followed during the course of executing a training plan…the CTL and ATL lines. The CTL line, or Chronic Training Load, measures your cumulative output of a trailing 28-day period. The ATL line, or Acute Training Load, measures the short term extreme spikes in training that indication your ability, or inability, to continue putting in sustained efforts. Think of the CTL line as a 200-day moving average for a company stock. You don’t want wild fluctuations in this line, and when there are, it typically isn’t healthy. You may have shorter term efforts that bring your CTL line up…but the ATL line realizes an extreme divergence away from the CTL and starts to indicate potential exhaustion and the need to rest. It’s the same concept at a corporate level, but drawn out over multiple Quarters than multiple weeks. Just like the cyclist, employees can put in a hell of an effort, but continued redlining will lead to that overextended ATL line, an unhealthy and unsustainable spike in the CTL, and eventually a condition of overtraining where either the team gets sick or rest is mandatory.

Knowing how to pace yourself and your team is critical to maintaining a path and a cadence that can continue driving a level of hyper growth. It’s taken multiple lessons for me to learn from others that it’s necessary to know and understand all the inputs that help maintain the pace. I don’t know how many times I was told to slow down and get some rest in the training by my coach. REST?!?!? Are you joking?!?!? “I’m feeling great and I don’t need to rest…”. Follow that with either getting sick or starting to see a drop in the performance level. “What do you mean rest…this isn’t the first time I’ve ridden a bike and I’ll know when I need to rest.” is what I might convey to my coach dismissing his feedback and experiences. I’ve since come to appreciate his valuable feedback and it was his feedback that was a major factor in securing a regional title.

Coming back to a corporate environment and the link to cycling…it’s all about the plan and managing all the necessary inputs to achieve that plan.

Revenue.    Corporate…what’s the Quarterly and Annual Plan? Cycling…what are the major event goals and the power level necessary to achieve the result?
Cost of Goods.    Corporate…what are all the elements necessary to produce? Cycling…what are the dietary needs to stay properly fueled, recover, and continue building on the achieved results?
Operating Expenses.    Corporate…what is the necessary cost structure to support the Plan & the resources available to achieve the plan? Cycling…what is the cost of nutritional supplements, tires, tubes, equipment, travel, etc.?
Net Income.    Corporate…with consideration to all the inputs, is the company achieving it’s planned result? Cycling…are you making progress towards achieving the wattage goals and distance goals? If not, is there a tweak to the inputs that can be made that may result in the same outcome?
It might be a bit simplistic of an analogy, but you can see the correlation between the two. While some might see my quantitative view on cycling as a bit unfortunate, it’s what makes me tick and it’s what I love about my career. For the same reason that I can’t just show up in the office and put in 8-9 hours and collect a check…nor can I get on my bike and just go for a ride…at least not with any frequency. I’m completely driven by performance and performance doesn’t happen without a strict plan in place, a set of metrics to track the plan, and the commitment to deliver. Period. In a situation of hyper growth, you need to be keenly aware of the elements and their impact on, and contribution to, delivering performance. You also need to realize that an excessive use of resources, which may ultimately be waste, will not necessarily deliver the desired results. There is no set formula…but it’s all about having the experience to know how to balance the inputs, drive a sustainable cadence, and deliver on what you promise. Changes to the plan? They happen, but don’t introduce a new race to the calendar next week, load up at the buffet with a ton of carbs, and hope that is going to get you through with a successful result…

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

A Squandering of Brand Value: Developing A Case Study…

April 22nd, 2013 Comments off

In my last entry I mentioned that I would be running a series that would break down the elements of how brand value is can be so easily squandered when mixed into a larger corporate portfolio, or under the watch of an executive team lacking the proper motivation. This is obviously a pretty complex issue and can’t be contained in a single blog entry, which is why I have chosen to take the approach of outlining the issue in a series of entries. Keep in mind, that while my approach might be directed at an entity that rolls up into a corporate parent, it can easily apply to a stand-alone entity. My experience in seeing brands fail to reach their true potential has typically been linked to a corporate parent. Ultimately, it’s an inequality of brand level performance, a lack of consistent accountability, a lack of proper resource allocation, as well as a highly political environment.

The walk we will go through on this case study will be a top down overview of the company’s P&L. Starting with revenue, progressing down through cost management, expense management, and ultimately addressing key issues such as personnel, accountability, and communication.  A company and its employees can always work through certain levels of resistance. Resistance is a natural part of the growth process. However, when each one of these potential resistance levels are compounded on each other it develops into a strong headwind where forward progress is minimal and the amount of energy needed to overcome ends up becoming, in some cases, more than the team can tolerate and key team members opt out. It’s not the hard work that turns them off, but the extreme efforts and frustration it takes for small incremental gains. Gains that could be much larger in the face of a cohesive effort and proper support.

In particular, we’ll dive into the following areas;

  • Corporate Influence. Are the brands financial goals clear and aligned with the expectations of corporate? Are the resources being deployed enough to support the achievement of those goals? Will the brand goals remain unchanged in the event of under performance by another brand or division?
  • Revenues. Is there a defined revenue plan in place that has been developed in the spirit of longer term sustainable and healthy growth for the brand? Is the brand constantly being challenged with pushing last-minute & unplanned revenue to offset a lack of performance by another brand or division. Is the revenue plan supported by the proper product initiatives and investment to see the plan realized? Is the revenue plan properly detailed by channel, product line, key customers, or similar detail? Macro level plans are only hope in disguise.
  • Cost Management. Are the projected margins for the product offerings, as well as the channel strategies, aligned with the expected outcome? Do you have the proper contingencies in place should there be a disruption in costs or supply chain? Are suppliers being paid as negotiated by corporate or are late payments affecting what might potentially be the optimum product costing?
  • Inventory Management. Is the brand being given the latitude to make the proper inventory investments to fund the planned growth? Are inventory resources constrained due to the lack of performance by another brand or division? Are you managing the brands inventory levels so as to maximize margin performance, avoid potential brand dilution in the market, as well as optimize cash flows?
  • Expense Management. What is the trend of operating expenses for the brand relative to historicals, as well as against expectations for the current plan? Is the brand continually seeing an improvement as a percentage of revenues or do they continue to grow disproportionately? Are you being denied the proper resources by corporate in order to offset non-performance by other brands or divisions? Do you have the proper staffing to execute on the original plan? Is a current lack of proper headcount creating risk that may not be seen for a few more Quarters but is allowing corporate to show more favorable results in the current results?
  • Quality of staffing and accountability.  Is the brand employing the right talent to deliver on what the brand has promised to corporate? Is the brand being given the latitude by corporate to execute on the plan that was delivered, and possible communicated in a public manner, or was it an exercise in futility? Are the levels of accountability the same across all brands or divisions? Does the same commitment to top talent extend across all brands or divisions or do results tend to be overlooked in favor of tenure? Is there a consistent level of communication across the brand relative to goals, progress, and commending the team for what has been accomplished?

Each one of these areas will be looked at in more detail. What is interesting to watch unfold is how each of these areas, even by themselves, can have a material impact on profitability. Take a combination of these and you then see how the effect is millions of dollars that are lost throughout the year. Not lost in a theoretical sense, but realistically lost and are NEVER regained. It’s not just the potential loss that might happen over a few Quarters, but that loss combined with the opportunity cost in the time spent rebuilding. Add to this the loss of key players who leave to align themselves with better performance and you lose some of that core brand knowledge that is so critical for the rebuild.

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Strategy Is A Long Term Process, Not A Reaction…

July 11th, 2012 Comments off

     We’re at just about the mid-point of the Tour de France, and while I’m not a big fan of Bradley Wiggins, I can’t help but admire the progress he and his team have made over the last few years. I remember watching a “chunkier” Wiggins getting spit out of the back of the group on climbs and struggling to put together a decent result for any portion of the race that wasn’t designated as a “TT”.  Amazing how things have changed as he is in firm control of this year’s race and clearly the strongest rider in the peloton.

     However, Wiggins increased performance was not the result of a knee jerk reaction to infuse some new untested element into his training, bring in untested teammates, or driving his teammates into the ground at the expense of him securing the yellow jersey. On the contrary, Wiggins’ planning started close to 2-years ago where he aligned himself with a strong team, a strong team director, and ensuring that all the riders on the team were informed and shared a common vision. A vision that would essentially become the mission statement for the team and the overriding goal of what needed to be accomplished. 

     Where their setbacks? Absolutely.  The team arrived at last year’s Tour only to have Wiggins crash out in the first week with a broken collarbone. Essentially the Tour was done and they missed their “Quarter”.  You knew I had to bring this full circle to Finance didn’t you? However, the Tour isn’t the ONLY race of the year, although it is the biggest. The team had countless other successes through the year and maintained their focus. They didn’t swap out a Director Sportif, didn’t find new sponsors, or change their equipment….they maintained their laser focus on the Tour.

     This year? After another year of athlete conditioning, wind tunnel testing, nutritional focus, and investing the proper resources into the team, they are the dominant force in this year’s Tour. While some are calling them robots, they are executing to the plan and reaping the benefits. There’s a lot to be said when you have a cohesive team that is communicating and the goals are clear to all involved. Wiggins standing on the podium in Paris will be the ultimate affirmation of everything the team has invested.

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

“Relentless Progression” or Staying In Cruise Control?

June 22nd, 2012 Comments off

     In continuing the theme of my last post, I can’t help but reinforce the theme of relentless progression. As it relates to my day-to-day professional endeavors, I really don’t see much of a divergence from what I do in the office versus the activities that I pursue personally. For those that know me, cycling is a passion that gives me a balance, but one I pursue with a laser focus. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting out on PCH in the mornings and just going for a “ride”, but at the end of the day I’m recording and monitoring my wattage, heart rate, caloric burn, and how that ride fits into my longer term training plan. There is nothing about my execution that doesn’t fit into a longer term plan.

     That same approach is what I carry into the office on a daily basis. Yes, time is spent developing the Quarterly and Annual Budget, but that is merely a point in time and really doesn’t address the executional aspect of achieving the plan. Nor should the Budget be viewed as another exercise or used as a set of bookends at the end of the day. It’s essentially the promise you’re making to your employees and key stakeholders on what will be delivered. There’s no doubt that we all have to deal with dynamic environments that will lead to a drift in the plan, but ultimately, it’s the execution on multiple fronts that will allow you to respond and ultimately deliver a bottom line result that is in line with expectations.

Drift? Why don’t you just anticipate the drift in your planning process? I have yet to meet a colleague that has the perfect crystal ball. One of my favorite examples of the drift process is a 5-year Plan that we had worked through, and ultimately approved by the Board, during the time I was at Pacific Sunwear. We outlined the obvious elements of revenue, margin, expenses, capital expenditures, store growth, along with every other key item. It was really a very detailed plan. Keep in mind that this was the Summer of 2001. Two months later we had the unthinkable events of the September-11, combined with a recession. Only a few months after we had the plan approved….MAJOR drift.

     The drift can be an entire market, a specific customer, or the cost of your inputs in the supply chain, but the ultimate question is whether you have the ability to quickly respond and mitigate the risk. For me personally, the drift might be a bad night of sleep, a week of sickness, or work commitments that conflict with my training plan. It’s being able to respond and keep a definitive focus on the end goal and achieve that goal.

     What have you done to maintain control on your operating expenses and pull back where necessary?

     Are you clear about ALL the contributing elements to your margin and where you can adjust?

     What have you done to ensure you’re carrying proper inventory levels to take advantage of opportunities, but not leave yourself exposed to additional reserves?

     What have you done to ensure you haven’t created too narrow a range in your supply chain that you can’t respond to significant changes?

It’s all in the day-to-day execution….

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Resurgence of the strategic CFO?

January 29th, 2009 Comments off

      A recent conversation at the trade show I attended had me discussing the expected role of the CFO in the current environment. The conversation, among finance peers, was focused on whether a technical, or “mechanical”, CFO could really be successful in the current economic environment or if we will again see the resurgence of the “strategic” CFO.  If you’ve read my prior posts there’s no question on my opinion. You would also know that my day-to-day activities are focused on a collaborative approach with every functional area of the company and I constantly look for ways to drive efficiencies that will have a positive effect on the bottom line. I’ve also been fortunate enough, prior to achieving the post myself, of working with CFOs who were also very good strategists and mentored me in creating the necessary balance.  The assumption being that any current CFO has the underlying technical skills to support the position.

     The segue for the conversation was a recruiter comment that mentioned they were looking to fill a CFO role but the hiring company was firm on having a CPA. While the scales are slightly tipped as a % towards the number of CFOs who have the designation, there is still a high % who do not, and are simply superior in their skillsets. However, for some time there was the absolute need in many corporations to bring in more of the “mechanic” type profile of a CFO for Sarbanes-Oxley implementations & other peripheral accounting and control functions.  But we now find ourselves in a much more challenging environment and I would table that many of the “mechanics” are simply not equipped, or have educated themselves on the intimate workings of the Company they deal with. That they have not established the necessary collaborative relationships to successufully implement projects. Nor do they have the mindset to work on realistic multi-year strategies that move beyond the simple construction of endless balance sheets. The real difference are the strategic CFOs who utilize their CPA knowledge as a complement versus Accountants who have progressed to the role only through opportunity.

     Yes, these are generalizations, and I have worked with some incredibly talented folks that are also CPAs. However, we are now seeing the absolute need for finance professionals that can work with all the functional areas within an organization and synthesize the information quickly to develop a realistic financial roadmap. Someone that can substantiate the information, really understand the story, and add more value than just changing some variables in a spreadsheet.

Thanks for reading . . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Do you have a fiscal strategy or fiscal workout?

October 25th, 2008 Comments off

Every so often we’re reminded about the need to have a specific plan in place, and without that plan, you’re not going to achieve your ultimate goals. I’ve seen this play out in two different ways over the last few weeks. One was my recent commitment to race the Southern California Time Trial Series this year, while the other is my new position as the CFO of a small footwear manufacturer.

Let’s start with my cycling training. I have all the top tools that would enable me to have specific and regimented training programs. I have PowerTap wheels for both my roadbike and TT bike, the latter a PowerTap disc. I have all the latest software to analyze my wattage history and taper accordingly. My wattage levels have been great. However, I hit the first two races and they were an utter disaster. I finished outside of the Top-5 and was not awarded points. My wattages during the race were 15-20% below my recent results. So….the local shop Pro tells me I was probably overtrained and not rested enough. He set me up with a daily program that I have been following diligently every day. While the “numbers” tell me my fitness is dropping, the legs feel fresh and strong. At my last race, I raced in the Pro 1/2 class, received points for second, and set a personal course record. Go figure…..

Carry the same analogy into my new company and I’m finding a team that is working very hard to make sure they hit their annual goals and achieve whatever level of profitability they can. However, just like my previous training plan, there were no day-to-day specifics, or in this case, month-to-month specifics. In particular, the Finance team does not have a forecasted P&L, there are no cash flows, there are no specifics as to how they will move back into profitability, and a host other non-existent reporting tools. The great news is, as I was, they are very willing to change and aware that they need to in order to achieve their necessary results. We are already putting some of the necessary plans in place and I’m very optimistic about the 2009 outlook. In a handful of weeks we already have reconfigured P&L info, we have a preliminary 2009 Budget, and we’ve identified a number of areas that will provide us additional product margin or expense improvements.

In both these cases, we were both working extremely hard but just not getting the necessary results. The effort was there, the necessary tools were there, the skill set was there, but what was lacking was a specific plan. In my case, it took a fellow competitor to bring out my best, while in the case of my new company, they hired me to bring out the best in them….and I’m looking forward to the results on both. So ask yourself – Do you have a fiscal strategy or fiscal workout?

Thanks for reading. . . .

Jeffrey Ishmael

Defined strategies & efficient use of resources . . . .

October 2nd, 2008 Comments off

Needless to say, my schedule has been getting crushed since I’ve started my new engagement in San Diego. My work is not only being conducted in the office, but at home after hours to get up to speed as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, one of the items to suffer has been the regular update of my site. It’s been tough trying to strategize and get my updates in. I’m going to try doing a number of posts through the weekend and updating through the week. We’ll see if that works….

However, I was on the bike early this morning (can’t give this up….) and I was doing some of my high-intensity interval work and evaluating the wattage numbers. Since I was tired this morning and was on a second consecutive day of intervals I decided to back-off and get some easy miles in. As I was spinning around Fiesta Island, where I’ll be racing in 2-weeks, I started evaluating my equipment, diet, and what kind of lead in I should be prepping for the race. One thing that came to mind, which has not before, is defining a specific course strategy and my line around the island. After all, what’s to consider, its a round island and you just need to go out and hammer. Right? Wrong….

I decided to do two laps. One lap would be a sloppy line around the island and taking the outside perimeter of a single car wide land around the island. The second would be a combination of inside lines and smooth transitions. I didn’t care about times….just the mileage. The first lap, the sloppy lap, resulted in a 4.17 mile reading. The second lap, picking what I though would be the most efficient line. The second lap came in at 4.11 miles. Ok…I know…only .06 miles. However, on race day we’ll be doing 3 laps. That translates to .18 miles. Let’s say I fall in the mid-range and a minor level of sloppiness costs me .1 mile. With a mile at clocking in at 2.3 minutes, or 150 seconds, that translates to a potential improvement, or penalty of 15 seconds. Huge in a time trial.

I started considering the application of this same concept to my budgeting efforts and the establishment of goals for 2009. As I’ve previously written, it’s not about hitting huge home runs, but more about making those small incremental changes and making sure that you’re making the most effective use of your resources. How do I produce a higher level of EBIT through an efficient use of my resources. How do you hit your goals without blowing out the finance element of your organization? It’s an interesting consideration and one I continue to practice in my professional career.
Thanks for reading. . . .

Brand longevity & the Hertz history…

July 24th, 2008 Comments off

     I received the latest edition of one of my favorite magazines yesterday, The Deal, and found an interesting article on Hertz rental cars and the history the brand had gone through relative to the different suitors that had acquired the company.  What jumped out at me immediately was how old the brand actually was, and what a great fun fact this info is.  The brand was started in 1918 by a Walter Jacobs who founded the company in Chicago with a dozen Model T’s!  Within 5 years the company was already doing $1 million in revenue.  Adjusted for a modest 3% annual inflation figures it’s almost $15 million in todays figures. The company then went through a number of acquisitions over the next 5 decades.  One of the more notable though was it’s acquistion by United Airlines in 1967 for a price of $567 million from RCA Corp. Now we don’t usually equate corporate M&A performance with that of the folks specializing in it, especially airline M&A, but United ended up divesting Hertz in one of the largest LBO’s (that is until the $25 billion purchase of Nabisco). That’s a multiple most would be envious of. 

     The article went into more detail on the current financial sitution of the company, their strategic direction, and some further changes. What’s always fun though is to learn of the history behind a brand, especially those that aren’t as recent as the iPod, Prius cars, or even IBM. 

Thanks for reading . . . .

Categories: CorpFin Cafe, M&A Tags: , , ,

Passive-Aggressive Organizations

July 23rd, 2008 Comments off

     With as much reading as we do on a daily basis, it’s refreshing to find the occassional article that really deserves to be archived and referred back to for it’s ongoing validity.  One of those articles for me was one I found a few years ago on the Harvard Business Review site; The Passive-Aggressive Organization.  The article is writtern by Gary Neilson, Bruce Pasternak, and Karen Van Nuys.  The article does a fantastic job of identifying where energy within the corporate structure is diverted from the main objected and is rechanneled into efforts that hinder the process.

     Almost every company I have been involved with has exhibited some of the characteristics highlighted in the article. Some more than others.  I constantly refer back to the article to help put things in perspective and help me through major projects that seem to see the progress stalling.  In the article there’s a great breakdown of the different corporate profiles that might characterize an organization.  The most ideal is that of a Resilient company where the entity is highly adaptable to external market shifts and is focused and aligned on a coherent business strategy.  The least desirable being the Passive-Aggressive entity in which all seems congenial and conflict free, seems to achieve concensus, but struggles to implement any plans due to conflict avoidance.

     There’s so much more to read in the article and it’s worth the 15-minute investment to read the article. You can find the article at Passive-Aggressive Organization .  I hope you find as much value in this article as I have.

Thanks for reading . . . .