Customers Are Better Strategists Than Managers

(by Graham Kenny – founder of Strategic Factors)

I was once appointed CEO of a company in need of a turnaround. We made trusses and frames for houses, and one morning, after I’d been on the job about three months, I found myself staring out my window, watching the trucks and forklifts below. I thought: What am I doing here? Can I, on the fingers of one hand, list the ingredients of success in this industry?

In the weeks and months that followed, the senior management team and I made a number of major decisions about the company’s future.  As a team, I observed, we were busy doing things and making changes, all of which made sense to us as managers.  But as time progressed, I returned to these questions, over and over: How well do we know what our customers want? How well do we know what our suppliers and employees expect? What would it take to meet those needs better than our competitors could?

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The 7 Attributes of the Most Effective Sales Leaders

Every salesperson knows the quality of their sales manager will have a profound impact on their own success. A recent study, Harvard Business Review (HBR) conducted proves this point. Sixty-nine percent of salespeople who exceeded their annual quota rated their sales manager as being excellent or above average. In addition, the quality of the sales organization is directly associated to the quality of sales leadership. Fifty-six percent of salespeople who rated their sales organization as excellent also rated their sales manager as excellent—compared to only 3% who rated their organization as average.

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What Only the CEO Can Do

(by Alan George “A.G.” Lafley – executive chairman of Procter & Gamble)

I became Procter & Gamble’s CEO in June 2000, in the midst of a crisis. On March 7 of that year the company had announced that it would not meet its projected third-quarter earnings, and the stock price plummeted from $86 to $60 in one day, leading the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a 374-point decline.

The price dropped another 11% during the week my appointment was announced. A number of factors had contributed to the mess we were in, chief among them an overly ambitious organizational transformation in which we tried to change too much too fast and which distracted us from running the everyday business with excellence. But our biggest problem in the summer of 2000 was not the loss of $85 billion in market capitalization. It was a crisis of confidence. Many of P&G’s leaders had retreated to their bunkers. Business units were blaming headquarters for poor results, and headquarters was blaming the units. Investors and financial analysts were surprised and angry. Employees were calling for heads to roll. Retirees, whose profit-sharing nest eggs had been cut in half, were even angrier.

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