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LEADERS BY EXAMPLE: 10 INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES USHERING IN THE GREEN REVOLUTION

green

LEADERS BY EXAMPLE: 10 INDUSTRY EXECUTIVES USHERING IN THE GREEN REVOLUTION

A Nielsen survey found that 81 percent of global consumers feel companies should help improve the environment. “Business strategies must include sustainability in their core beliefs and practices,” says Hitendra Chaturvedi, a professor at the Supply Chain Department of W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and an expert on global supply chain sustainability and strategy.

Fortunately, there are forward-looking leaders like the executives who follow that prove you can go green and succeed in business.

Simon Paris – CEO, Finastra; Chairman, World Trade Board

As the chief executive of one of the world’s largest fintech companies, while also chairing the World Trade Board, Simon Paris is in a unique position to talk about protecting the global trade system. Heading into the 2020 World Trade Symposium in his company’s hometown of London, Paris wrote about countering today’s protectionist narrative with “our reinforcement of the pro-trade narrative,” and he also called for ideas to reduce the small and medium-sized enterprises’ (SME) funding gap, currently estimated at $1.5 trillion. But he ended with a plea to “examine how open technology can act as the enabler for inclusive, sustainable trade.

As global supply chains become increasingly complex, our goal should not be measured on a binary figure of turnover or profit, but on the ethical and sustainable impact of our technological innovation; our technological social responsibility. How can we use technology, collectively, to ascertain the provenance of materials, improve the health and wellbeing of workers in remote locations, reduce the cause and effects on environment pollution of long-distance transportation or minimize the impact of waste and disposal? How can we use open finance technologies–and by this, I include open systems, open software, open APIs, open standards and open partner networks–to transform supply chains and encourage the formulation of more relevant and inclusive trade models, in support of ethical trade?”

Detlef Trefzger – CEO, Kuehne + Nagel International AG

This year, all less-than-container-load (LCL) shipments by Kuehne + Nagel began being CO2 neutral, which is part of the Swiss global logistics and transportation company’s goal of being totally CO2 neutral by 2030. “As one of the leading logistics companies worldwide, we acknowledge the responsibility we have for the environment, for our ecosystem and essentially for the people,” explains K+N CEO Detlef Trefzger, who along with his company supports the aim of the Paris agreement on climate. To that end, the company has also begun carbon-swapping nature projects in Myanmar, New Zealand and elsewhere.

Ongoing training programs maintain and expand the environmental awareness of employees, who have increasingly relied on video conferencing over business trips. In December, K+N announced its accession to the Development and Climate Alliance, which was launched in 2018 to simultaneously promote the development and environmental protection. “As a globally operating company, we are convinced that the private sector must also make its contribution to environmental protection,” says Otto Schacht, a member of K+N’s management board responsible for Seafreight.

Uwe Brinks – CEO, DHL Freight

DHL is a leader in piloting alternative drivetrains and fuels for its vehicles, which fits into the San Francisco-born, Germany-based global logistics giant’s target to reduce all its transportation emissions to zero by 2050. “Our sustainability goal is not just a vision, but a clear statement,” says Uwe Brinks, CEO of DHL Freight. “In the future, we will give preference to transportation solutions that contribute to achieving our environmental goals.”

To that end, DHL launched “Terminal for the Future,” which tests and implements solutions and technologies such as automated volume measurement, intelligent yard management, and partially autonomous transfer vehicles. “All these developments are based on a clear approach: We want to make life easier and more efficient for our customers and employees,” Brinks says. “Technology should support our employees in their everyday work, not replace them.” Globally, DHL has changed vehicles in certain delivery fleets to use alternative fuels, including electricity and compressed natural gas, to meet the goals of its GoGreen project to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and local air pollutants by 2025.

David Abney – CEO, UPS

 As leader of one of the largest logistics companies in the world, UPS CEO David Abney sums up sustainability success best when he says: “The greenest mile we ever drive is the one we don’t drive.” Better route-planning software and developments have been key to the UPS green transport system—as well as its bottom line: The company claims to have saved $400 million since overhauling the routing system.

But UPS has not stopped there, having switched out dozens of diesel trucks, which get about 10 miles per gallon, for electric vehicles that can squeeze out the equivalent of 52 MPG. Abney and UPS recognize they are an important part of the global supply chain and that their customers expect solutions that help reduce emissions. To that end, UPS has dedicated itself to building the smart logistics network of the future.

Ben McLean- CEO, Ruan

When Des Moines, Iowa-based Ruan was announced in October as a 2019 SmartWay Excellence Award recipient from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CEO Ben McLean would have been forgiven if he’d reacted by saying, “Meh.” After all, this is the fourth time the green 3PL provider has received the EPA’s highest recognition for demonstrated leadership in freight, supply chain, energy and environmental performance. Of course, McLean—like everyone else at Ruan—was honored to again receive the honor. “This distinction from the EPA validates all the efforts and investments we have made to ensure we are operating as sustainably and environmentally friendly as possible,” said James Cade, vice president, Fleet Services. “To us, sustainability is more than a business practice—it’s our moral commitment. We live in the communities we serve, and it is our responsibility to provide leadership toward a cleaner future.”

Recognition is understandable given that Ruan is one of only three for-hire transportation companies selected for the National Clean Fleets Partnership membership and participation in its annual Clean Cities study. The company’s fleet has green specifications including auxiliary power units that reduce engine idle time, efficient progressive shifting, auto-inflation trailer tire systems, and onboard recorders that monitor MPG, over-RPM, idle time, hard breaking and over-speed driving. Ruan also utilizes alternative fuel types including biodiesel, compressed natural gas, renewable natural gas and renewable hydrocarbon diesel. McLean, part of the third generation of the Ruan family, was out in front of his office to check out a prototype electric truck from Tesla, which has five orders from the company.

Simon Cox – Head of Sustainability, Prologis

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January, San Francisco-based global logistics real estate firm Prologis was revealed to be No. 6 in the U.S. and No. 26 overall on the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World List. Those that make the list represent the top 1 percent in the world on sustainability performance, according to the Global 100 administrator, Toronto-based Corporate Knights. Prologis leases modern logistics facilities to about 5,100 customers principally across two major categories: business-to-business and retail/online fulfillment. It was among 7,395 companies worldwide that Corporate Knights analyzed.

“Sustainability has moved beyond simply a commercial advantage; it is now essential—business-critical,” Simon Cox, Prologis’ head of Sustainability, recently told Eye for Transport (EFT) by Reuters Events. “… We build warehouses that are ready for the next generation, who want to work for companies that do the right thing. Globally, we are seeing a move towards purpose-based products. It’s no longer enough to simply make something that cleans the kitchen, for example, it’s got to have a broader purpose. It’s got to be environmentally responsible. It’s the same for us as a business that develops and owns sustainable buildings.”

JJ Ruest – President and CEO, CN (Canadian National Railway)

Landing a spot for the first time on the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World List is CN, at No. 54. That recognition comes exactly 12 months after the Canadian National Railway marked its 10th straight year as a global leader on corporate climate action on the CDP Climate Change A list. Produced at the request of 650 investors with assets of over $87 trillion and/or 115 major purchasing organizations with $3.3 trillion in purchasing power, the A list is culled from thousands of companies that submit annual climate disclosures for independent assessments from CDP, an international nonprofit that seeks public and private sector reductions in greenhouse gas emissions as well as the safeguarding of forests and water resources.

CN transports more than $250 billion (Canadian) worth of goods annually for a wide range of business sectors, ranging from resource products to manufactured products to consumer goods, across a rail network of approximately 20,000 route-miles spanning Canada and U.S. cities such as New Orleans, and Mobile, Alabama as well as the Chicago, Memphis, Detroit, Duluth, Minnesota/Superior, Wisconsin and Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan areas. “Our commitment is to help our customers deliver responsibly by providing a safe, efficient and environmentally friendly way to move goods,” says CN President and CEO JJ Ruest. “To that effect, we have improved our fuel efficiency by 39 percent over the past 25 years.”

Kai Nowosel – Chief Procurement Officer, Accenture

Also landing on the 2020 Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations in the World List (at No. 20, up from No. 93 the year before), as well as making the CDP Climate Change A list is Accenture PLC, an Irish multinational that provides strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations services. From offices around the world—including 10 U.S. cities from Boston in the east to Irvine, California, in the west, and Seattle in the north to Houston in the south—Accenture uses “purchasing power to drive positive change on a global scale, creating more sustainable supply chains,” according to Chief Procurement Officer Kai Nowosel. “It also allows us to advance our key priorities, including environmental action, respect for human rights, inclusion, diversity and social innovation.”

Accenture has committed to using 100 percent renewable energy across its global portfolio by 2023. “We will be encouraging similar ambition from our value chain, and ideally reporting progress through established platforms such as CDP supply chain,” Nowosel says. “… We will actively seek partnerships and suppliers that are even more closely aligned to our corporate values so that, together, we will improve the way the world works and lives.”

Alexander Saverys – CEO, CMB (Compagnie Maritime Belge)

CMB’s bold CO2 pledge is “Net Zero as from 2020–ZERO in 2050.” The strategy involves having all carbon emissions from CMB operations completely offset (or net-zero) from this year, while the investment in new technologies will create a completely zero-carbon fleet by 2050. CMB started by supporting certified climate projects in developing countries and acquiring high-quality Voluntary Carbon Units (VCUs) in Zambia, Guatemala, and India. Back at CMB’s home base, the Port of Antwerp in Belgium, the company’s “Hydroville,” the world’s first sea-faring vessel to burn hydrogen in a diesel engine, shuttles up to 16 passengers while producing zero pollution. That won the company the second-ever Sustainability Award from Antwerp Port Authority, Alfaport-Voka and the Scheldt Left Bank Corp. in November 2018.

CMB is now hard at work on “HydroTug,” a tugboat that will hit the water later this year or next using the same hybrid hydrogen/diesel technology as Hydroville. Hybrid barges would soon follow, and the company hopes to launch the world’s first hydrogen-powered container ships in the next decade. “Green hydrogen-based fuels are the only zero-emission solution in the long run,” according to CMB CEO Alexander Saverys. “… We are convinced of the potential of hydrogen as the key to sustainable shipping and making the energy transition of a reality.”

Thibaut de Lataillade – Global Vice President and General Manager, GetApp

Founded in 2010, the Barcelona, Spain-based Gartner company GetApp is an online resource for software buyers to compare products side-by-side with free interactive tools, detailed product data and user reviews. GetApp also serves as an online lead generation channel for SaaS. And the company also provides customers with sustainability advice. “Our main focus is on helping businesses become more efficient through technology and software,” says Thibaut de Lataillade, GetApp’s global vice president and general manager. “As consumers become more conscious of sustainability, businesses must adapt their supply chain processes. This means mapping their supply chain, setting goals and measuring supplier performance when it comes to sustainability. Using the right software to analyze and leverage data captured through this process will help business leaders make the right decisions and ensure sustainability in the future.”

GetApp doesn’t stop there. “We’ve also tried to highlight the many other benefits that come from becoming a socially responsible business. For instance, corporate social responsibility (CSR) can also lead to improved brand awareness and improved customer trust, loyalty and engagement,” de Lataillade says. “As a digital business, we have a duty to spread the message when it comes to creating a social impact strategy, and doing so for the right reasons.”

businesses

How Businesses can Weather COVID-19: Start with Empathy to Employees

Major U.S. businesses are adjusting operations, laying off employees or reducing hours in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

It’s uncharted territory for the nation, and companies from large brands to small businesses, like everyone else, are operating without a playbook to deal with an unprecedented public health threat that will also have economic implications. How businesses adjust to the pandemic and respond to this “new normal” is critical to the future of their business.

“The most important part is showing empathy to employees – now more than ever in these uncertain times,” says Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com), founder of a health and wellness marketing agency and ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance.

“While every company is dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s important to keep in mind that your employees are being affected in more ways than one. Added challenges to daily life now include your partner working next to you, your children being home from school, and having to keep an extra close eye on elderly relatives. In these unusual circumstances, people will notice which companies are treating their employees with empathy and compassion and which are not.”

A business leader’s response during a time like this defines who they are as a leader.

Mitzen thinks this challenging time could be used by business owners to assess their company culture and consider that how they treat employees is central to that culture and vital for business results. He explains how leaders can show empathy to employees, strengthen company culture and drive performance:

Lead with support, not force. “Culture starts at the top, and the best results come when leaders support their people and help them get the most out of life, rather than trying to squeeze them to work harder and harder,” Mitzen says. “People can sacrifice for the job for only so long before they burn out. It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes prioritizing life over work actually improves the work product. Once you hire good people, you don’t have to push them with crazy deadlines to squeeze productivity out of them.”

Build a team of caring people. “Business is a team sport,” Mitzen says. “To have an empathetic culture, you need people who care for each other and work well together. Build teams by looking for people who lead with empathy.  Don’t hire jerks. People who are super-talented but can’t get along with others tend to destroy the team dynamics, and the work product suffers.”

Define a positive culture – and the work. Showing empathy to employees can be an engine generating creativity and productivity. “The internal culture at a company defines the work the company produces,” Mitzen says. “Culture influences who chooses to work for you, how long they stay, and the quality of work they do. And the core of the culture is empathy, starting with employees and extending to customers and the communities that you live in. There’s a strong connection between a healthy work culture, which inspires people, and the work customers are receiving. That kind of company makes sure customers are treated the same way they are being treated.”

“Now more than ever, empathy, kindness and compassion are important values to keep at the forefront of your organization,” Mitzen says. “Business leaders can take the lead in doing the right thing, starting with their employees.”

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Ed Mitzen (www.edmitzen.com) is the ForbesBook author of More Than a Number: The Power of Empathy and Philanthropy in Driving Ad Agency Performance and the founder of Fingerpaint, an independent advertising agency grossing $60 million in revenue. A health and wellness marketing entrepreneur for 25 years, Mitzen also built successful firms CHS and Palio Communications. Fingerpaint has been included on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies for seven straight years and garnered agency of the year nominations and wins from MM&M, Med Ad News, and PM360. Mitzen was named Industry Person of the Year by Med Ad News in 2016 and a top boss by Digiday in 2017. A graduate of Syracuse University with an MBA from the University of Rochester, Mitzen has written for Fortune, Forbes, HuffPost, and the Wall Street Journal.

small business

How to Lead a Small Business Through Coronavirus and other Troubling Times

With the coronavirus shaking up the economy and upending the day-to-day operations of businesses, it’s perhaps more critical than ever that corporate CEOs and small business owners summon up all their leadership skills.

Employees who usually are just down the hall are now working remotely from home. The supply chain is disrupted. And customers and clients may be changing their spending habits.

But, as important as business savvy and financial expertise can be in riding out all the economic effects of the pandemic, other traits also come into play and maybe just as essential, says Marsha Friedman, a successful entrepreneur who still leads a business she launched three decades ago.

“One of those essential traits is courage,” says Friedman, founder and president of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), a national PR firm. “Thirty years ago when I started my company, I probably would never have said it takes courage to lead a small business, but without it, I assure you, you’ll fail.”

Friedman, who is also the ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, understands this first-hand. Her firm, like many businesses, endured tough economic times after the 9/11 attacks. Revenue dropped and bankruptcy loomed as a real possibility.

“I had to figure out how to turn my company around,” she says. “It took courage, endurance, and perseverance, but I knew I could not go back, so I had no choice but to go forward.”

Courage is just one of what Friedman calls the 5 C’s for building and maintaining a successful business through good times and bad.

“They’re the guiding principles I’ve learned through the ups and downs and all the mistakes,” she says. “They can work during the difficulties we now face as well.”

In addition to courage, Friedman’s other C’s are:

Caring. First, care enough about yourself and your dreams to believe you can achieve success even in these daunting times, Friedman says. “Just as important is caring about your staff and creating a positive work environment for them despite the troubles we face,” she says. “Be supportive of them throughout this situation that is bringing additional stress to everyone’s lives.” Finally, a good business leader cares about customers, Friedman says. Be willing to listen to their concerns, take responsibility for mistakes, and correct them.

Confidence. Most people have faced and overcome challenges in life. The confidence that allowed them to prevail over those challenges needs to be brought into play in business more than ever right now, Friedman says. “Believing you can reach for and achieve your short-term and long-term goals is essential to getting you there,” she says. “Maintaining your confidence is important to get through these unsettling times.”

Competence. It’s critical to stay up on the disruptions in your industry that the coronavirus is causing. “If you’re forced to downsize, this may be the time to reorganize and tap into the skills and abilities of your remaining team that are different from the roles you hired them for,” Friedman says. “That’s why it’s always important to have hired competent people who you can rely on no matter what the situation.”

Commitment. Stay dedicated to your goals no matter how difficult that becomes during these challenging conditions. Friedman says there may be times when this will be not only difficult but downright painful. That was the case for her during those tough times after the 9/11 attacks. “I had to make drastic cuts, including letting go of beloved employees,” she says. “But I never wanted to suffer a failure, and so I stayed committed to the goal and succeeded in pulling the business through those rough times.” 

“As we face the current challenges, you have to stay the course, remain positive and show caring for everyone related to your business,” Friedman says. “Most of all, no matter how dismal it seems right now, you need to have confidence that you are going to get through it.”

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Marsha Friedman, ForbesBooks author of Gaining the Publicity Edge: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Growing Your Brand Through National Media Coverage, is a successful entrepreneur and public relations expert with nearly 30 years’ experience developing publicity strategies for celebrities, corporations and professionals in the field of business, health and finance.  Using the proprietary system she created as founder and President of News & Experts (www.newsandexperts.com), an award-winning national public relations agency, her firm secures thousands of top-tier media placements annually for its clients.  The former senior vice president for marketing at the American Economic Council, Marsha is a sought-after advisor on PR issues and strategies, who shares her knowledge both as a popular speaker around the country and in her Amazon best-selling book, Celebritize Yourself.

training

5 Ways To Improve Your Training and Achieve Measurable Business Results

U.S. companies spend billions of dollars a year on training, but how many of those businesses are seeing positive, measurable results from such a large investment in their employees?

Not enough of them, studies and experts say. One study on workplace training reported that 43 percent of employees found their training to be ineffective.

“I doubt that many employees would rate their training as engaging, rigorous, or highly effective,” says Dr. Jim Guilkey (http://www.jimguilkey.com), author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. “For most trainees and trainers alike, job-required education is viewed as a necessary evil.”

So how can companies train their employees better and from that training produce outcomes that grow the business? Dr. Guilkey says it comes down to employing effective instructional design methodologies rather than traditional models.

“Traditional training often doesn’t work for companies today in competitive marketplace environments where growth is essential to survival,” he says. “The training is usually developed and delivered by subject-matter experts who have little or no knowledge of instructional design. Assessments test rote memorization rather than the ability to apply specific knowledge in authentic situations.”

Dr. Guilkey suggests some new learning solutions and why he thinks they’re more effective than traditional training methods:

Problem-based. “Problem-based learning involves a strategic approach of structuring the learning process within authentic, challenging, and multidisciplinary problems the learner must address,” Guilkey says. “This results in higher levels of learning than content-based, traditional training, which teaches content with little or no application to authentic, real-world problems.”

Continuous learning. “As opposed to singular-event learning, continuous learning is an ongoing process that allows learners time in the field to assimilate  and apply new knowledge before learning more advanced concepts,” Guilkey says.

Collaborative learning. A variety of interactions between peers, mentors, and facilitators fills in gaps, answers more questions, and reinforces the learning process. “This differs from the traditional method in which the learning is limited by focusing on the lecturer — a one-way transmission of content,” Guilkey says.

Multidisciplinary. The traditional approach focuses on singular concepts presented in a linear fashion, whereas the multidisciplinary approach “requires participants to combine and correlate learning across concepts and use real-life scenarios,” Guilkey says.

Testing for application of knowledge. Guilkey thinks assessment should be based on the performance of a strategic task, in which learners apply their skills and knowledge, rather than the traditional style of testing for rote memorization. “There’s a huge difference between being able to recall pieces of information and having a performance-based measurement to put all the pieces together,” Guilkey says.

“Many company leaders are unclear on the actual skills and knowledge of their employees and whether they are providing a competitive advantage,” Guilkey says. “You’ll never create a competitive advantage using traditional training methods.”

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Jim Guilkey, PhD (http://www.jimguilkey.com) is the author of M-Pact Learning: The New Competitive Advantage — What All Executives Need To Know. He is the president of S4 NetQuest and a nationally recognized expert in instructional design and learning strategy, with extensive experience in leading the design, development, and implementation of innovative, highly effective learning solutions. Under his leadership, S4 NetQuest has transformed the learning programs for numerous corporations, including Johnson & Johnson, McDonald’s, Merck, Nationwide, Chase Bank, BMW, Cardinal Health, Domino’s, GE Medical, Kaiser Permanente, Yum! Brands, and others. Guilkey is a frequent speaker at national conferences and corporate training meetings. Before co-founding S4 NetQuest, Guilkey served as the assistant director of flight education at The Ohio State University. He received a BS in aviation and an MA and PhD in instructional design and technology from Ohio State.

leadership

Assess Your Leadership Qualities By Answering These 7 Questions

A leader is supposed to be out in front, pointing the way toward whatever is ahead.

But, as we begin a new decade, too many business leaders are facing backward rather than forward,  says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

“The future can’t be met with backward-thinking and old leadership methods that are no longer effective,” Konovalov says. “The leader’s duty is to open a door into the future for people and explain how things should be considered and managed in that new reality.”

“Leaders face more responsibilities and much higher expectations in terms of the execution of their roles,” he says. “The leader’s responsibilities are expanding enormously, demanding much stronger competencies and skills than before. Everyday learning and continuous improvement need to be the norm.”

As a result, Konovalov says the modern leader needs to combine meticulous planning with flexibility.

“Combining these attributes is necessary in an ever-changing and hyper-competitive market,” he says. “The wrong decisions and actions can lead to the whole organization losing sight of customer needs as well as quality, harming the long-term sustainability of the organization.

“Making the right decisions means thinking of more than the company. It means considering the values and needs of customers and employees as well.”

He suggests leaders assess where they are in their abilities so they can define areas where they need to improve.

To begin that assessment, Konovalov says leaders should ponder how they would answer the following seven questions. He offers a more detailed 38-question self-assessment on his website:

-What are the most typical mistakes from the past that hold you back from becoming an extraordinary leader?

-How clearly can you define your customers’ needs? Can you envision them as clearly as your personal needs?

-How do you care for your people as a leader?

-A strong culture is not about me, but about what I do for others. What do you and your colleagues do in terms of investing in others on a regular basis?

-What is your leadership style? Are you a leader who takes care of people or a boss taking care of yourself?

-What were the aims and results of the most recent changes implemented in your company, and what were the employees’ reactions to those changes?

-What lessons have you learned in the course of your leadership journey?

By answering these questions, Konovalov says, leaders can begin to gain insight into whether their leadership style is one that is pointed confidently toward the future, or one that’s stuck perilously in the past.

“Bad leaders build barriers for people,” Konovalov says. “Strong leaders build barriers to problems, accidents, and stagnation. We have more than enough mediocre or bad leaders. We need strong leaders for real progress and to make a positive difference in people’s lives.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate SuperpowerOrganisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.

 

strategy

Latest Bayer-Monsanto Trial Reminds Us that Culture and Strategy Must Stay in Sync

What does culture have to do with the latest challenges at Bayer and Monsanto?

Since culture goes hand in hand with strategy, quite a lot.

But this fact — that strategy and culture are interrelated — has gotten lost in the current zeitgeist where culture is viewed as the last piece an organization puts in place, something you can just create or layer on.  An afterthought of sorts to innovation, product development, sales, marketing, teamwork, and strategy.

From the minute an organization comes to be, if not sooner, culture is there. It’s the basis on which founders and leaders express their purpose, their vision, and mission. It shapes the way decisions are made about what to produce and sell, to whom, and how.  Workplace habits and standards, behavioral consistency — even rituals and language — all flow from culture, not vice versa.

In other words, culture is a starting point for all of these things and more, beginning above all with an organization’s strategic agenda. Culture defines the who and the why behind strategy.

As companies grow and evolve, they tend to lose sight of the fact that culture and strategy go hand in hand, and forget that culture was initially embedded in everything they did. Culture gets reduced to a statement hanging on a poster in the office kitchen, conference room or front lobby. The connection between culture, strategy, decision-making, and behavior gets lost. The two are no longer in sync. That puts the company’s strategic agenda and intentions at risk.

This might seem disappointing yet harmless. Not so. Because a disconnect between culture and strategy and everything that flows from them can result in exactly the sort of conflicts and miscues we’re seeing with a range of organizations, large and small. Corporate strategy gets muddled and culture gets confused. The organization gets shackled in decision making, risk management and problem-solving. This has been a challenge with Bayer and Monsanto, as well as for GE, P&G, Boeing, a host of big retail companies, and across the healthcare sector.

As explained in my new book Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen, culture should inform and help determine every decision leaders take and every action taken throughout the organization at every level, across borders, from executive group and staff directives to day-to-day choices and behavior within teams.

How can you make sure culture and strategy continue working hand in hand, and that culture doesn’t devolve into a string of empty buzzwords staring up from a culture deck that teams and individuals glance at without following through on?

The following four questions will help you assess whether and how your organization’s everyday thought and behavior is aligning with its culture — and make sure you’re not heading down the slippery slope of letting actions and decisions drift away from their cultural drivers:

1. Does the decision we are about to make reflect our values and culture around caring for our customers and their needs in a way that treats them as the assets that they are?

2. Will this decision contribute to our profit and sustenance in a way that remains true to our culture and to the purpose, vision and mission it has led us to shape?

3. Does this decision help us maintain our competitive advantage and differentiate us meaningfully in a way that aligns with our culture and values?

4. Is this decision in line with the ethics and values of service and integrity our culture embodies and is this meaningful stewardship for our full range of stakeholders?

To be a good corporate steward you have to have your eyes wide open for the needs of all types of stakeholders: customers, employees, investors, partners, and suppliers.

These questions intersect with one another in multiple places, forming a complex lattice. Decisions that impact competitive advantage or corporate stewardship will have implications for profit and sustenance. All choices will ultimately impact customers and the way your business meets their needs. There may be conflicts between one category and another, too.

Most companies check in on how they’re doing with culture every year or two at most. But given culture’s crucial foundational importance to strategy and all that flows and is expressed from it, much more attention is needed.

These four questions should be asked regularly and rigorously at all levels of operations and decision-making. They should form the basis for decision-making protocols and policies about everything from risk management and safety standards to financial management and personnel matters.

And if the answer to any of them is “no” it’s time to stop and rethink before taking action.

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Daniel Wolf is President and Co-founder of Dewar Sloan, a consulting group focused on  strategy direction, integration and execution. For more than 25 years Dewar Sloan has served hundreds of corporate, healthcare, technology and nonprofit organizations. Author of Strategic Teams and Development: The FieldBook for People Making Strategy Happen and Prepared and Resolved: The Strategic Agenda for Growth, Performance and Change, Dan has held management and governance roles at Fortune 500 companies, SME ventures and in private equity ventures. He lives in Traverse City, Michigan.

culture

What Happens When Leaders Forget the Culture That Made Their Company Great?

Many business leaders view their corporate culture as so important that they make it a point to hire people who are a good fit for that culture – and jettison any employees who aren’t.

But what happens when it’s the leaders themselves – for profits, for expediency, for getting the next deal done – who toss aside the culture and plow ahead with decisions that go counter to what made the company a success?

Trouble, that’s what happens, says Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture and the ForbesBooks author of the Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business (www.culturecodechampions.com).

“Your company’s culture should inform everything you do,” he says. “When you start straying from the practices that got you where you are, you run the risk of making decisions that will cost you in the long run.”

One example that surfaced recently involved Boeing, which posted its first full-year loss in more than two decades. The company was already reeling from two Boeing 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 passengers in Indonesia and Ethiopia, and forced the company to ground its entire fleet of Max jetliners.

According to news reports, the origins of the company’s woes can be traced all the way back to 1997 when Boeing acquired McDonnell Douglas, a merger that immediately led to a clash of cultures. At Boeing, engineers were king. At McDonnell Douglas, the bottom line ruled.

In the end, the McDonnell Douglas culture prevailed.

“Mergers and acquisitions are always fraught with danger both financially and culturally,” says Higgs, a founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering who recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast. “Financial concerns get the focus while management figures, incorrectly, that culture will just work itself out.”

But in any organization – with or without a merger – it’s paramount that the leaders take charge of maintaining the culture. Higgs says some steps crucial to establishing a company culture and keeping it on course include:

-Encourage communication. Higgs is fond of saying that all problems ultimately are communications problems. In any organization, there can be communications breakdowns. “The most important way to improve execution and efficiency is to foster and maintain a spirit of inclusion, where everyone who has any contact at all with a particular project feels they are involved and is kept in the loop,” Higgs says.

-Knock down silos. Too often silos emerge in large organizations where departments become insulated from each other. They fail to share ideas and resources, and an attitude of competition replaces a spirit of collaboration.

-Make sure employees know they are respected and valued. This is the real key to building a successful organization and making sure your best people stay with you, Higgs says. Leaders should communicate regularly with employees to make sure they understand how valued they are. He says employees should also know it’s all right to speak up if they see something problematic.

“When I was at Mustang Engineering and we had grown from a small to a huge company, I still had drafters who were comfortable jumping five levels in the organization to let me know they would have to put out substandard work if the schedule or cost were not changed,” Higgs says.

“I always told them I would handle the issues internally with engineering and externally with clients or suppliers, but they should stay the course on quality.”

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Bill Higgs, an authority on corporate culture, is the ForbesBooks author of Culture Code Champions: 7 Steps to Scale & Succeed in Your Business. He recently launched the Culture Code Champions podcast (www.culturecodechampions.com), where he has interviewed such notable subjects as former CIA director David Petraeus and NASA’s woman pioneer Sandra Coleman. Culture Code Champions is listed as a New & Noteworthy podcast on iTunes. Higgs is also the co-founder and former CEO of Mustang Engineering Inc. In 20 years, they grew the company from their initial $15,000 investment and three people to a billion-dollar company with 6,500 people worldwide. Second, third and fourth-generation leaders took the company to $2 billion in 2014. Higgs is a distinguished 1974 graduate (top 5 percent academically) of the United States Military Academy at West Point and runner up for a Rhodes scholarship. He is an Airborne Ranger and former commander of a combat engineer company.

company

Are Growing Pains Afflicting Your Business? How To Successfully Scale Your Company.

Ambitious entrepreneurs often are determined to grow their businesses by expanding into new areas, adding new products, and increasing the size of their workforce.

But growth comes with potential hazards, which is why one of the leading causes of business failure is overexpansion – growing too much too fast.

“There are so many complexities involved with growing a company” says Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, and founder and CEO of PFSbrands, the parent company of Champs ChickenCooper’s Express and BluTaco.

“If you’ve been a parent and raised kids, you can relate it to the various ages of kids. Much like your kids need different things at different ages, your business has different needs at different stages of growth.”

To stay on track with those needs, Burcham says business leaders need to:

Constantly evaluate employees. When a company is growing and improving, employees need to do the same, Burcham says. He’s an advocate of lifelong learning and expects employees to commit to continual personal improvement through reading, seminars or other educational efforts. In addition, while Burcham likes to promote from within, he will look elsewhere when necessary. “Scaling requires your team to evolve, but it also requires new blood,” he says. “As a company is growing, sometimes you have to go out and recruit the talent to help you get to that next level.”

Protect the brand. As the business grows, it’s crucial to adhere to standards and have quality controls in place. Otherwise, the business won’t build brand loyalty. “If you go into McDonald’s and you get a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder, you want that Big Mac or Quarter Pounder to taste the same in every location,” Burcham says. “That’s ultimately what every national brand is working toward.” In his own business, he has seen competitors of PFSbrands locate in supermarkets and convenience stores with loose standards.  “In some cases, we lose business to these competitors who are lenient and have lower standards,” Burcham says.

Embrace the future. Scaling is all about embracing the future, and that includes understanding millennials who will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, Burcham says. “Younger generations want to know why they’re doing something, and that makes a lot of sense when you think about how they grew up with their electronic devices,” he says. “They have been able to get answers anytime they want them.” Burcham’s company uses an open-book management approach that fits well with the transparency younger workers desire, he says. “Personal growth, education, and continuous learning are also things they are looking for. If companies today want to scale, then they need to embrace millennials and work to create an environment where they are engaged.”

Take their time back.“To be an effective leader as your business grows, you need to consistently work on time management,” Burcham says. He has five steps for doing this. 1. Decide what’s important and focus on two or three top priorities each day. 2. Stop doing some tasks. Instead, delegate or automate them. 3. Start on the most important thing first. 4. Learn to say no. 5. Block out time for self-improvement and life needs.

“Scaling is a process, not a destination,” Burcham says. “If you really want your business to grow, you need to be constantly moving, constantly evaluating and constantly improving.”

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Shawn Burcham (www.shawnburcham.com), author of Keeping Score with GRITT: Straight Talk Strategies for Success, is the founder & CEO of PFSbrands, which he and his wife, Julie, started out of their home in 1998. The company has over 1,500 branded foodservice locations across 40 states and is best known for their Champs Chicken franchise brand which was started in 1999. Prior to starting PFSbrands, Burcham spent five years with a Fortune 100 company, Mid-America Dairymen (now Dairy Farmers of America). He also worked for three years as a Regional Sales Manager for a midwest Chester’s Fried chicken distributor.

Blijleven

Total Produce – Haluco Appoints Dirk Willem Blijleven as Chief Commercial Officer

Total Produce – Haluco is pleased to announce the appointment of Dirk Willem Blijleven as Chief Commercial Officer (CCO) and member of the Board of Directors of TP Haluco, effective February 1st, 2020.

An accomplished leader with significant experience working across the supply chain and diverse markets, Blijleven, 42 has worked in the food & fresh industry for more than two decades. Most recently Manager Buying for Aldi Netherlands, having spent nine years at Aldi Nord GmbH & Co. in senior leadership roles, Blijleven’s previous experience includes Sales & Marketing positions in the Greenery, the Dutch Flower Group and Driscoll’s.

Speaking of the appointment, Lorcan O’Connor, Total Produce Regional Managing Director for the Netherlands welcomed Blijleven to TP Haluco: “Dirk Willem has a demonstrable track record in delivering efficiencies and synergies from scale and in embracing change; meeting challenges, harnessing market opportunities and delivering growth. I wish him every success in his new role at what is an important juncture in the evolution of TP Haluco.”

Jan van der Lugt, founder and co-owner of TP Haluco adds: “Dirk Willem joins TP Haluco during a period of considerable change across the wider horticultural sector in the Netherlands. Customer-focused, Blijleven is a strong communicator and a consensus builder with strong leadership skills and a clear vision. As such, the Board and I are confident that Dirk Willem is the right person to deliver value to our customers and shareholders as our company enters its next chapter of transition and growth.”

On assuming the position, Blijleven says: “I am honored to have been appointed TP Haluco’s CCO. Ours is an organization dedicated to bringing together the collective resources and core competencies of diverse growers in the Netherlands and worldwide. I will do my best to serve all of our stakeholders by helping to empower our growers and our people to fulfill their ambition and their passion to make a difference.”

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About Total Produce – Haluco Holding BV
Total Produce – Haluco Holding offers an extensive range of Dutch open field- and glasshouse vegetables grown by an unrivaled network of exceptional, experienced local producers. Committed
to bringing the grower and the consumer ever closer together, Total Produce – Haluco Holding point of difference lies in the passion of our people, the efficiency with which we bring product to market and the consistency and quality of our produce. As part of the Total Produce family, we are uniquely positioned to meet customer expectations of 52 week supply; complementing local supply with exceptional produce from across the globe. Serving the retail, wholesale and foodservice sectors, Total Produce – Haluco Holding is a complete fresh produce solution provider – offering a comprehensive menu of services to our customers ranging from simple service provision to complete Category Management.
www.haluco.nl

About Total Produce Plc.
Total Produce is today one of the world’s largest and most accomplished fresh produce producers and providers. Local at heart, Global by nature, Total Produce operates out of 39 countries while serving many more. Our industry leading vertically integrated supply chain extends across the globe incorporating over 260 facilities including farms, vessels, manufacturing facilities, cold storage warehousing and packhouses. Growing, sourcing, importing, packaging, marketing and distributing over 300 lines of fresh produce, Total Produce’s range extends from the more familiar to the truly exotic. www.totalproduce.com

visionary

Are You A Visionary? 6 Traits Every Strong Vision Shares.

There’s a reason many of the most successful businesses in America – Apple, Amazon and others – had a visionary leader behind them, propelling them to achieve their goals at the highest level.

“A vision pushes people not just to do more, but to do more than they think they are capable of,” says Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com), a global thought leader and consultant who has worked with Fortune 500 companies and is author of the new book Leaderology.

Yet, even though everyone does a lot of talking about the importance of vision, he says, it’s not easy to fully grasp just what it is.

“I’ve discussed vision with CEOs of big companies, serial entrepreneurs, creators of unique software, and many others,” Konovalov says. “Every single person with whom I have spoken viewed vision differently. But in the course of all these discussions I discovered that there were some properties of a strong vision that remained constant.”

Vision reflects the highest purpose of leadership. A leader’s vision should include actual benefits for those affected by the vision, such as employees, customers, the leaders themselves, employees’ families and society at large. “A main stimulus of vision is people and the care of their needs,” he says. “If a vision is not formed around people and their needs, then it is not vision but personal ambition.”

Vision doesn’t lead to dead ends. A vision is always scalable and should show multiple potentials for expansion, Konovalov says. “But to be able to scale the vision you should maintain an appropriate cognitive distance from it,” he says. “This allows you to see the broader picture while keeping the important details in sight. Stand too close and you see the details, but lose the whole picture. Stand too far away and you lose the important details from which the vision is created.”

Vision reveals a path to success. As you pursue your vision, watch for the signs and clues that will help lead you to success. “They will be easy to follow if the vision is strong,” Konovalov says. “Those signs are always around in different forms – words of encouragement, expressions of real need from strangers, and answers to critical questions coming from unexpected perspectives.” Paying attention to such signs helps people spot opportunities while crafting the most effective path to success, he says.

Vision means taking on responsibility. If you’re the person with a vision, you are taking on a responsibility that will have an impact on people’s lives.  “And the greater the vision is, the greater the responsibility,” Konovalov says. “But this huge responsibility also comes with incredible opportunities, the kind of opportunities available only to pioneers. It may be intimidating to take on all that responsibility, but it will reward you in return.”

Vision should be easy to understand. “Vision involves elegant thinking about complicated things,” Konovalov says. But that doesn’t mean the vision itself should be so complex that everyone is left puzzling over what you’re saying. Just the opposite. “Great vision is genuinely easy to understand,” he says. “The simpler the vision is in its core meaning, the easier it can be shared with employees, customers, and partners.”

Vision generates excitement. A person with a vision isn’t nonchalant about it. Strong vision is always accompanied by excitement. “Actually, vision is a strong emotion itself,” Konovalov says. “If someone tells you about his great vision and he sounds ho-hum about it, then most likely he is lying to himself and others. Such a person might have a goal, but they don’t have a vision.”

Vision is a great leadership ability and success instrument, Konovalov says.

“Vision defines and explains why and where effort should be focused,” he says. “And while vision is normally created by a single person, it quickly becomes the property of many, and that’s important.

“No one can accomplish something great on his or her own. Vision is what attracts the people needed to take what you want to accomplish and turn it into a reality.”

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Oleg Konovalov (www.olegkonovalov.com) is a thought leader, author, business educator and consultant with over 25 years of experience operating businesses and consulting Fortune 500 companies internationally. His latest book is Leaderology. His other books are Corporate Superpower, Organisational Anatomy and Hidden Russia. Konovalov received his doctoral degree from the Durham University Business School. He is a visiting lecturer at a number of business schools, a Forbes contributor and high in demand speaker at major conferences around the world.