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Strength From the Team: How Peer Learning Saves Executives

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Strength From the Team: How Peer Learning Saves Executives

It’s tough carrying the weight of a small to medium-sized business on your shoulders, let alone the weight of a large corporation. Few understand the challenges involved in being a CEO, and even fewer are equipped to help.

Many in leadership positions are tempted to quit thanks to the constant complexities of business in a post-pandemic world, including remote work, tech disruptions, an unpredictable economy, supply chain issues and geopolitical conflicts. In 2022, 70% of high-level executives considered quitting their jobs, and in 2023, more than 1,500 followed through.

The numbers paint a grim picture: America’s business leaders are tired, overwhelmed, and ready to throw in the towel. But it doesn’t have to be this way – for executives in peer learning groups, it’s possible not only to survive but thrive.

The Strength of Each Player is Their Team

11-time NBA champion coach Phil Jackson once remarked, “the strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.”

Today, executives often find themselves acting as the source of strength for their business without a team that lends them strength in return. In the face of mounting challenges, they lack the feedback they need to adapt and improve. The executives who are most likely to persevere are the ones who find shared purpose, mentorship, and camaraderie with peers in their same position.

In recent decades, peer learning groups have brought business leaders together from diverse backgrounds and industries. Together, they become a collaborative team, tackling problems, sharing insights, and providing each other with the honest feedback that can be so difficult to obtain from co-workers, board members, and coaches. 

But does it work? To state it modestly, the evidence says “yes”. 

Outcomes of Peer Learning

In a recent survey of more than 2,500 executives conducted by C12 Business Forums, we asked how participation in peer learning groups had affected their business results. Their answers were overwhelmingly positive:

  • 98% reported implementation of best business practices
  • 83% reported improved planning disciplines
  • 94% reported clarity on personal purpose
  • 70% reported gains in profitability
  • 75% reported better work/life balance

So, what is it about peer learning that not only leads to improved business performance, but improved planning, discipline and resilience for executives?

Why Peer Learning Works

Today, up to 39% of executives are involved in some form of executive coaching, which involves consistent meetings with an experienced and trusted mentor. But while executive coaching can provide much needed guidance, it also suffers from drawbacks that peer learning improves on. For instance: 

  • More combined experience – one executive coach may have 50 years of experience – but get 10-15 people together in one room who each have 20 years of experience individually, and you now have 200+ years of collective experience to glean from.
  • More up-to-date experience – a seasoned coach will have evergreen business experience, but that doesn’t mean they will understand AI, remote working, and the other technological complexities of today’s world. In aggregate, a peer learning group will have up-to-date experience in multiple areas where CEOs need guidance.
  • Scope of experience – executive coaching will tend to reflect insights gained from one industry, or a small handful of related industries at best. Peer learning groups bring together executives from businesses across many industries which curb the blind spots and knowledge gaps that come from overspecialization.

Each member in a peer group sees one small piece of a larger picture which the others are likely to miss. During times of rising market complexity, knowledge sharing helps them to adapt more rapidly than executives who rely solely on a coach – or worse, on nobody.

What Makes a Good Peer Learning Group?

The peer learning model is so successful that participants are likely to see their business grow or outperform peers during times of downturn, even when other businesses are losing. Even so, not all peer groups are equal, and some can amount to elaborate networking events that provide less value to participants.

Our survey respondents cited three factors that most contributed to successful peer group participation and longevity:

  1. Camaraderiehalf of CEOs feel lonely in the course of their careers, and of this group, 61% believe it hinders their performance. A good peer group fosters a much-needed sense of camaraderie between participants, arising from shared struggles, outlook and work-life circumstances.
  2. Accountability – executives, like anyone else, are more likely to achieve their goals when they share those goals with others and stay accountable. Meanwhile, holding one’s peers accountable provides motivation for everyone else when they succeed, and valuable lessons when they do not.
  3. Quality of peers – quality of peers has much to do with the criteria for admission to a peer group, including company size and annual revenue requirements. Invitation-only peer groups will also focus on finding participants who share similar values, goals and worldviews.

Surprisingly, effective accountability turned out to be the most predictive factor of a high-value peer group experience. Accountability mechanisms – including frameworks for actionable goals, performance tracking and peer insights – are catalysts for consistent progress that almost guarantee improved business results over time.

Purpose Driven Learning

In today’s purpose economy, executives are not only trying to raise their bottom line, but also to align business operations with their personal values and beliefs. Peers who share the same outlook not only provide a stronger sense of camaraderie – they are also more likely to provide impactful advice and feedback that other group members can feel confident acting on.

Fortunately, executives have many options to choose from. Tracking with the rise of faith-based investing, membership across faith-based peer groups has doubled over the past five years, while membership across all peer groups has increased by 75%.

The Best Time to Join a Peer Group is Now

It’s probably not true to say that there has never been a more difficult time for executives in America – but it’s definitely true that there has never been a better time to join a peer group. By doing so, business leaders can not only find strength for themselves: they can also contribute to the future, make a difference across multiple industries and form a team that makes all of its players stronger.

Author Information:

Mike Sharrow serves as the CEO of C12 Business Forums, the world’s largest peer-learning organization for Christian CEOs, business owners, and executives. Since assuming the role of CEO in 2016, Mike has led C12 to achieve remarkable growth, including more than 220% increase in membership and an impressive 240% increase in Chairs globally. C12 currently serves over 4,100 members spanning the United States, Brazil, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and South Africa.

market research

Market Research and How to Conduct It Like a Pro

Market research is an essential part of any successful business plan. By gathering information on customer preferences and behavior, you can make decisions on how best to satisfy your customers, inform marketing strategies, and develop new products and services.

But how do you go about conducting market research? In this blog post we’ll take a look at what it takes to become an expert in the field so that you can get the most out of your efforts.

Why Is Market Research Important?

The first step in successful market research is to establish your goal. What is your business trying to do? Do you want to find out more about customer buying behaviors or how to use the best lead conversion tactics

Knowing what information you need will allow you to determine which type of data collection method you choose. 

How It Can Work For You

One of the most practical uses for market research is to inform decisions about product positioning and pricing. Understanding what your competitors are doing can help you make informed decisions around pricing, distribution and promotion. 

Additionally, by understanding your customer’s needs, you capture their attention in a crowded marketplace.

Market research is also vital when it comes to creating marketing strategies, as you’ll have a clear understanding of what your customer wants. Moreover, measuring the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns helps optimize advertising expenditure by identifying which channels are driving the most results.

The Two Types of Data Collection

Market research can be broken down into primary and secondary research. 

Primary market research involves collecting data directly from target consumers via surveys, interviews, focus groups or other methods. This is usually more costly but provides the most accurate results.

Secondary research focuses on existing data from sources like government agencies, trade associations, newspapers and online polls. 

While not as detailed as primary research, it can still provide valuable insights about customer preferences and industry trends.

All research should be conducted with an organized approach. To start, you will need to establish the purpose of the research. That will help you determine what data you’re looking for and why. Next, formulate a research plan that outlines how your data is collected and how it will be analyzed.

Accuracy Is Paramount 

When conducting primary market research, make sure that your questions are specific enough to get valuable feedback but also general enough that you can avoid respondent bias. 

Additionally, to ensure accuracy, surveys should be tested on a small sample size before taking them to larger groups.

Be mindful of the information source and accuracy, to ensure that your conclusions are valid.

There Are Ethical Considerations

When conducting market research, you need to remember the ethical implications. All your respondents should be treated with respect. Moreover, you must protect their privacy throughout the process. 

For example, you could use an anonymous survey instead of asking for personal information. Your researchers should only ever collect data on those topics that are relevant to your objectives. 

Additionally, it’s worth providing an opt-out option. That way, if anyone changes their mind about participating, they can do so without feeling pressured or obligated. 

Adhering to these ethical principles will guarantee that your findings are as reliable and valid as possible.

Next Up: Data Analysis 

This involves interpreting and visualizing your findings to depict results. To begin with, try to work out the trends in customer behavior, industry changes, competitive forces, and any other metrics relevant to your goals. 

Additionally, look for data patterns that can help inform future decision-making such as which product lines are making more money or which marketing strategies are more effective.

Market research should also include an element of qualitative analysis, which will  uncover any potential insights or opportunities that don’t show up in numerical form.

Always Report Your Findings

Finally, researchers should report back to the necessary stakeholders. That way, your company can make informed decisions about business strategy. 

This means taking all of the information gathered during your research and putting it into a concise yet comprehensive report that can be easily understood.

Implement Your Findings 

 

Once you have analyzed your market research results, your business can start creating strategies and action plans according to what you’ve learned. 

With a heightened understanding of customer needs, businesses can stay one step ahead of competitors while also providing higher levels of satisfaction to customers.  

Final Thoughts

Conducting market research is an essential part of any successful business plan, and with the right tools and knowledge, your company can get invaluable insights into the target customers of your industry. With a systematic approach to both primary and secondary research, you can make sure that you’re making informed decisions about your business strategy.

So there you have it – the key steps to becoming an expert in market research! 

warehouse management You Need to Communicate Your E-Commerce Forecasting to Your Fulfillment Center

You Need to Communicate Your E-Commerce Forecasting to Your Fulfillment Center

Fulfillment centers need insights just as much as executives and investors. In the e-commerce space, there can be global operations for warehouses in a single location or hundreds. Regardless of the size of the enterprise, e-commerce forecasting can provide projections to organize inventory and improve a business’s reputation and revenue. 

Forecasting order quantity means efficient stocking and expedited deliverables. Curating long-term business relationships with departments packing and shipping your products — internal or external — is advantageous for continued growth and support. The best way to do this is by communicating the forecasts with the fulfillment centers to drive results.

The Significance of Understanding the Supply Chain

Every point during the supply chain is a variable. Each facet creates accurate forecasts, from third-party logistics to an internal fulfillment center that packs and ships goods. 

A business cannot just rely on last year’s sales numbers to create a comprehensive forecast. Expenses, outliers and unexpected scenarios must be considered for it to be sturdy. It’s crucial to communicate e-commerce forecasting to your fulfillment center because it can help you understand the variables in its step of the process:

  • Sourcing multiple materials puts deliverability at risk.
  • International merchants need to allot charges to process payments.
  • Overseas shipping creates delays in deliverables.
  • Businesses operating in your country may have higher production costs.

Fulfillment centers must know that most revenue comes from existing customer bases — this is the foundation for projecting accurate e-commerce forecasting. This grows as a company acquires new customers, creating exponential growth in the baseline for projections. Communicating this growth as it happens to fulfillment centers will help their momentum as your e-commerce business ages.

Forecasts will also help fulfillment centers become aware of your marketing strategies. This creates a more intimate relationship between fulfillment, analytics and marketing teams for the most effective satisfaction. This ties into their work, as owned audiences are people you could convert using free methods like email and social media marketing. 

Companies can make predictions about the success of these campaigns. It’s essential to consider paid acquisition methods such as unsolicited offers and conversion rates based on how much your teams are investing in marketing for your e-commerce.

The Challenges in E-Commerce Forecasting for Fulfillment

Considering all these participants equally will create more accurate data for your fulfillment centers, but it isn’t just about that initial forecast delivery. Communication includes when adjustments are made and new data is measured. The consumer market is not impossible to predict, but the one constant forecasters can rely upon is oscillations.

Sharing this information can help fulfillment centers prepare for dips and spikes in sales and inventory, but it is sometimes hard to adapt. However, it may become more commonplace if every company becomes aware of how e-commerce forecasting could help change fulfillment center productivity. Fulfillment centers could adjust by changing hiring methods or executing updated storage solutions based on these forecasts.

Demand forecasting will be the focal point of these adaptations, as the different variations detail diverse business outcomes:

  • Passive demand: Using past sales to predict future demand
  • Active demand: Using the competitive environment and production rapidity to predict demand and create growth plans
  • Long term: Focusing on a long time frame, usually more than a year, to help provide an exhaustive picture of seasonality patterns and output
  • Short term: Focusing on a single day or small time window, such as a holiday
  • Macro and micro: Analyzes outside forces that could potentially interrupt commerce, taking a micro or macro lens depending on the company’s objectives
  • Internal business: Analyzes internal assets to see if they can keep pace with demand, including staffing needs

Companies could tell their third-party or internal fulfillment centers there will be a severe increase in inventory. This could allow them to face that challenge by implementing new systems like automated warehouse picking or more useful order management software to streamline stock control.

Another challenge comes with the attainment of the forecast. Developing it can take time, as market research happens and experts create projections based on that insight. In the meantime, fulfillment centers that could become reliant on these projections to forecast order quantities may be waiting in limbo while it’s perfected. 

Imperfect, rushed or incomplete forecasts could mitigate the boom forecasts typically provide for fulfillment centers and decrease inventory expenses. So many available fulfillment centers have to juggle this, mainly if they house multiple e-commerce entities.

How Will the Forecast Order Quantity Help Your Fulfillment Center?

E-commerce forecasting can help fulfillment centers prepare for the busiest seasons — for some, that’s related to holidays and for others, it’s connected to trends. They must be all-encompassing, usually outlining more than the average number of units or a simple percentage increase over the previous year. What happens if a celebrity influencer stops endorsing your product and that affects sales — how will your forecast reflect this hurdle so fulfillment centers know how to acclimate?

A forecast also details promotions, sales and event fluctuations that could affect forecast order quantity. Depending on the scope, all estimates should gradually be developed immediately after the previous sales period. They should consider everything from competition to season, considering the type of products and the market available for them in the present.

Fulfillment centers will appreciate forecasts that clearly outline their company goals and standards, so they know inventory specs and what they can do to maintain a trusting relationship. Though it may be a third party or not, they have just as much, if not more, of an effect on customers than the business itself.  

Your fulfillment center will appreciate you communicating inventory needs and expectations. It will help them organize and remain compliant with contractual agreements, especially as they navigate an unprecedented demand increase for e-commerce fulfillment responsibilities. Better communication equals greater organization, leading to snappier shipping and better customer satisfaction.

It will also create accountability across sectors. Inconsistent data is a considerable issue in supply chains as products exchange countless hands. Communicating with fulfillment centers about expectations lets them report back with accurate information because it was from you, not a third party. It’s another set of checks and balances to ensure every item reaches its destination.

E-Commerce Forecasting for Fulfillment Centers

Creating a business that will survive in a sea of many means you must communicate your e-commerce forecasting to fulfillment centers. Improve customer loyalty by creating a solid forecast foundation. You can decrease financial risk because everyone is on the same page regarding sales expectations.

This will create strong business relationships, which is better for any bottom line and the customer who receives the package.