Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Are 'doing what you say you'll do' and 'flawless execution' old-fashioned values

The Mead Consulting Group has been focused on execution and getting results for businesses for many years. It is the key to our success as a business and has become essential component of our brand. Execution is not only important to the business, but also very important to me personally in everything I do. People who have worked alongside me in nonprofits, community, or public service areas certainly understand this.
At a gathering of a group of top emerging professional services leaders in the Colorado community - the question was raised: "Is meeting your commitments and 'doing what you say you'll do' as important today as it was 20 years ago?
It's an interesting question. I was quick to respond that "Absolutely! Meeting your commitments is just as important today as it was a couple of decades ago."
However, as I thought more about it, I have had reason to question whether that is really true. Is it really as important today? In the last few months, I have been faced with a number of iterations of businesses and people not executing, not meeting their commitments, not doing what they say they will.
Do what you say you'll do. Business on a handshake. Mead Consulting has numerous marketplace partnerships with the better providers of a wide array of services that our clients need (training, recruiting, managed IT services, investment banking, etc.). We have had mutual agreements for many years with these providers - virtually all on a handshake agreement. We have had only one negative issue with a partner over 20+ years with this program... until recently.
In the past two years, we have had two new partners (one a Managed IT Services firm, the other a marketing firm) not live up to their word. It has given me pause to question why. Is this a sign of desperation due to tough business conditions? If that is true, does integrity only apply to good times? Did we compromise our standards by working with these firms? Or, was it just the luck of the draw over time?
Don't over-commit and under-deliver. There have always been situations of over-committing and under-delivering in business and community. Sometimes it is a miscalculation or unintentional. Sometimes people can't say NO and get overloaded. However, recently I have begun to see a pattern with people who routinely accept more and more roles and then can't perform. The same people repeat this in organization after organization. For a number of years my mantra for nonprofit and public service organizations has been "alignment, commitment, flawless execution." In other words, do something that is well-aligned to your business, personal, professional interests, bite off a manageable amount, and then execute flawlessly. If you then find you can take on more tasks and responsibilities, that's great, but meet your commitments first.
As a board member and leader of several organizations, I have been forced to have tough conversations with people who love to add titles and items to their resume ("Check a box"), yet don't deliver or meet even the minimal standards of performance or execution.
Don't accept mediocre performance. Hold yourself and others to high standards. I have had occasion to work on a program which is a government - private industry collaboration. The program which has tremendous potential to assist companies and create jobs has unfortunately been sub-optimized. Even as it has been falling short of its potential, it has been very instructional to watch the self-congratulatory behavior of the committee and board. Committee members who have repeatedly failed to meet their commitments cheer each other as "awesome" and "fabulous" while rejecting or ignoring suggestions for improvement. I certainly understand that government entities have not always been shining examples of stellar performance or accountability, but it is disappointing none-the-less. We see signs of the same applauding of mediocrity in the school system as well as we seek to promote high self esteem for every student and teacher regardless of achievement or effort ("Everyone gets a medal"). Has acceptance of mediocrity become the norm? Is it old-fashioned to set high standards and expect strong performance or yourself and others?
Don't find excuses or blame others for substandard performance. When I was a young boy growing up, my father would say, "Be a man! Own your mistakes." I wonder what he would think if he were alive today to observe the business and government scene as people look for anyone they can to blame when they fail or don't deliver on commitments.
Some may say that I may just be getting cranky and crotchety. But, I ask you to think about this: Is 'meeting your commitments' passé? Is 'doing what you say you'll do' your grandfather's mantra? Is 'flawless execution' an old fashioned concept?
Let me know your thoughts?
The Mead Consulting Group has been helping middle market companies for over 25 years to focus strategies and execute well so that they get the results they desire.
If you would like to discuss how we might help your company begin the process of adding value and moving your company to the next level of performance, please contact me. 

Leadership Luncheon - Colorado Mentoring Summit - We are proud to be a sponsor of this important event advancing youth mentoring in Colorado

Be a part of the Corporate Network in Colorado that is creating a mentoring movement to increase the number of quality mentoring relationships for young people!

The 2017 Colorado Mentoring Summit will feature a Leadership Luncheon that will engage corporate and nonprofit leaders in a keynote presentation, discussions and networking opportunities that explores the progress, future and value of joining the mentoring movement for young people.

Individual Tickets Now Available

Keynote Speaker: Dave Stalls
Learning to Walk

Dave Stalls graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a B.A. in zoology and chemistry, and has traversed a variety of occupations and industries including 9 seasons of pro football with the Superbowl Champion Dallas Cowboys and Superbowl Champion Los Angeles Raiders.  After football he worked in marine biology, veterinary medicine, investment banking, professional public speaking, telecommunications, recreation management, and nonprofit youth development. 

Dave Stalls will share highlights of his career as a professional athlete and in youth development and will discuss ways to walk toward a more inspiring life and meaningful company.

Click here to read more about Dave.

Honoring Mayor Michael B. Hancock with
a National Recognition as a Mayor for Mentoring 

Michael B. Hancock is Denver's 45th mayor. During his time in office, Mayor Hancock and his administration have eliminated the city’s budget deficit, fostered a diverse economy and restored much needed services that were lost during the recession. With a drive toward increasing opportunity for every resident, he has prioritized innovative solutions to investing in increasing mobility options, affordable housing and services for the homeless; supporting economic mobility, entrepreneurs and small businesses; and making government work smarter for residents. Most notably to the mentoring movement in Colorado, Mayor Hancock has been a key advocate for children and youth, supported mentoring agencies at numerous events and lead the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative in Denver. Prior to becoming mayor, he served on the Denver City Council for eight years and was President of the Metro Denver Urban League.

 Founded by the passion and vision of a number of grassroots mentoring organizations in Colorado, Mentor Colorado leads initiatives that will strengthen communities through mentoring.  Whether mentoring programs are impacting violence prevention, improving academic performance or developing career readiness, the research supports what we intuitively know, mentoring works.  To amplify the impact of mentoring, Mentor Colorado supports the growth and development of over 60 mentoring agencies throughout the state resulting in greater collaboration, more high-quality mentoring programs, better use of resources, and most importantly, more young people matched in quality mentoring relationships.



For more information on the Colorado Mentoring Summit click here

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Don't miss the opportunity to sell during this Upcycle

[Editor's Note: This article is an update of one we have published twice before over the last 20 years. The message remains relevant to the CEOs and owners of lower middle market businesses. I hope you find it useful. - dpm]

We missed the selling boom during the last positive cycle and were determined that we would not miss another opportunity.
In one of our Breakfast briefing series a few years ago, Dan McCallin former owner and CEO of Timberline Steel made an interesting statement: "We missed the selling boom during the last positive cycle and were determined that we would not miss another opportunity to sell during the next upcycle. We decided to take the steps so that we were prepared." While Dan originally made that statement during the recession of 2002, and later sold the business in early 2006, the message could certainly apply today.

The exit sales process may take the better part of a decade. With interest rates near record lows, the economy still in expansion mode, and sales multiples at high levels, there may be a tendency on the part of business owners to think that the good times will continue for the foreseeable future. While some business owners may believe they can pull the string when they are ready, the truth is, for many business owners, the exit sales cycle may take several years to execute. Professionals will tell you that in order to sell at highest value, the process includes 1-3 years to get ready, 1 year or so for the transaction, and then you may have to spend up to 3 years with the company after the sale.

Companies can focus on making fundamental improvements to their business that will help them make their company healthier and more attractive than their competitors.
1. Focus on customer net profitability
2. Upgrade management
3. Cleanup business processes
4. Develop a strategic growth and execution plan
5. Position the company to succeed in any part of the business cycle

Focus on customer net profitability. The tendency is to cling to any customers and revenue no matter the profitability level. A common comment is that "at least they absorb overhead." The notion of unprofitable business absorbing overhead may be one of the greatest false beliefs in business. In many cases, overhead that has been viewed as fixed is really a cost that can be minimized or shed. Carrying unprofitable business will be a continuing cash drain that may inhibit your business' ability to grow as the economy improves.

Upgrade management. There is still a pretty good supply of good talent now available in the marketplace. In many cases this may be talent that may not be available as the labor market continues to tighten. Take advantage of the opportunity to improve. Similarly, this is a great opportunity to review all of your employees and weed out those with below average performance, poor potential, or unrealized potential. Our clients use a simple tool to rank all employees in terms of potential and performance - the results make it very clear which ones have been a drag on the company.

Cleanup business processes. During boom times, many companies claim they are too busy to scrutinize business processes to make improvements and to streamline in order to increase throughput. That "excuse" can ultimately cost you when you try to sell.

Develop a strategic growth and execution plan. You need a plan that will allow you to be agile enough to take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. There may be market segments that have been slow to come back; some may never come back the same way. Other market segments, however, may present huge new opportunities. Your organization needs to develop a plan and be prepared to execute.

Never waste the opportunity to improve. Take the opportunity to examine everything, reduce unnecessary expenses, trim those underperformers, examine unprofitable business, streamline business processes, etc.

Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts: Be prepared. These steps can add value to your business. Your business can accelerate faster and be well- positioned to succeed in any market. The market for selling a business will likely continue to be ripe through most of 2018. Those businesses that are prepared and ready are finding a hungry group of buyers and investors with lots of "dry powder" that they need to invest.

The Mead Consulting Group has been helping middle market companies for over 25 years to add value and prepare for a successful transition. Our clients have consistently enjoyed better results. Investment bankers have told us that our clients are among th

Friday, March 10, 2017

Strategic Coaching to Accomplish Results

Over the past few years, I have been asked repeatedly why Mead Consulting Group does not promote the coaching we do with CEOs and business leaders. My response has typically been that it is such an overused and “abused” term. We have not wanted to be lumped into the bucket of people who bill themselves as business coaches but who have limited or no real life business experience.
For many years, helping company leaders execute and grow as leaders has been a core part of our DNA. Our entire consulting practice is built around helping companies reach the next level – helping them to get results. Leadership, communication, strategic thinking, setting priorities, motivation, team development, alignment, accountability, and personal development are all part of the process. These are developed by close interaction with our client’s leaders. We refer to it as CEO coaching or strategic coaching, but in truth it usually involves the entire senior team.

A recent conversation with a client brought back to mind my personal situation - when I was thrust into the CEO role by the death of the Founder. My best strategic coach was one of the Board members who took me under his wing. I was 27 and he was 73. He had lived quite a life, from growing and selling businesses to failed partnerships, lawsuits, large acquisitions, employee issues. He had forgotten more than most people ever experience. He was an irascible cuss and didn’t suffer any fools. I was able to leverage his failures and successes. He helped me achieve my goals, and made sure I was prepared for almost any situation that came my way. He was the person who helped me understand the importance of developing and focusing on strategic plans that can actually be executed.

I saw an article a number of years back that listed some reasons why business leaders could benefit from having an experienced strategic coach. Long ago I turned these into my own list – which I will outline below. It is this same focus that our senior consultants bring to every one of our clients.
  • You gain a needed confidante
  • They force you outside your comfort zone
  • You get personal attention from someone who knows your business inside and out.
  • You hear the hard truth - that people inside your company won’t share
  • You get objective, unbiased opinions
  • You learn how to turn your ideas into reality… Or hear why you are chasing too many shiny objects and need to focus
  • You are held accountable for getting important things done – focus on strategic issues not what shade of mauve the office furniture will be.
  • You get exposed to a huge external network
  • You gain confidence in your decisions and actions
If you want more information about how we help CEOs and business leaders continue to grow and accomplish their goals, please contact me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

What you didn't know about Mead Consulting might surprise you.

The Mead Consulting Group has been helping lower middle market companies for many years.We don't toot our own horn...we don't advertise....We let our clients' success speak for us...But there are some things about us that may surprise you.

 Did You Know?
We don't put junior people on your projects.  
We've been there before!
Our senior consultants have been in your shoes and have fought the same battles.
Did You Know?
36 years in business
 Most people are surprised to learn that we have been in business for 36 years  
and have  
30+ senior consultants focused on helping lower middle market businesses
Did You Know?
We work with companies at inflection points
We typically engage with companies with revenues of $10M -$250M, but  we have clients that range in size from $5M-$2Billion in size. The common point is that all are at "crossroads."

Did You Know? 
Our clients have been  
very successful
Our clients get results! We focus on the execution of strategic plans and operational improvements 

 Did You Know?
We work with companies through all stages of growth
> Strategic growth & execution
> Improving profitability & Cash flow 
> M&A and Integration 
> Maximizing Value for Exit
> Generational transition

Did You Know?
 The Healthcare market has fundamentally changed!

Our Healthcare and Life Sciences Practice helps companies with market positioning, accelerating market access, market revitalization and reimbursement 

 Did You Know?

We have experience across a number of industries
> Industrial
> Business Services
 > Software
> Technology   
> Healthcare & Life Sciences
> Consumer Products 
> Education    
> Building Products / Specialty Construction
Did You Know?

We have helped numerous clients dramatically improve profitability and cash flow

Did You Know?   

We have helped many clients prepare, add value and navigate through successful sales transactions and generational transfer
Exit Planning

If you want to move your business from a good business to a great one, contact
Dave Mead at (303) 660-8135 or
meaddp@meadconsultinggroup.com for a free consultation.

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