You’ve just been appointed CEO, General Manager, or some sort of CXO! Congratulations on that, all the best for your role, and by the way, brace yourself. When a new executive is brought on-board from an external company or promoted from within, oftentimes, something is amiss at the company. Your role is to tend to sick departments, turnaround a failing company, or pull teams and employees from some of the darkest corners. Your CEO job description is just a sugarcoated document for the role of ghost-buster + miracle worker! I have been in this situation many times – trust me when I say many. Here’s a tried and tested turnaround strategy roadmap that I developed, used and then used some more throughout the course of my career as CEO.
Before diving into the actual roadmap, you’ll first need to ask questions and know the right questions to ask. Fast. This is easier said than done, which is why I built an entire business based on this very need! And not of just the top layer of your organization – somewhere in the cubes of the 4th floor, someone knows what really is working well in product and what is wildly out of sync with the market, someone sitting in sales knows what contract you are likely to lose, and two people hold the key knowledge you need to connect the dots on a political fiefdom that one middle manager has constructed.
These are the nine lenses that every CXO needs in order to understand their Business 360.
Start with your biggest assets
Your People are your biggest assets, you need to figure out if you have people in the right jobs or the wrong jobs. I can tell you right away that the people are not in the right jobs – if they were, then you wouldn’t be here in the first place! You are here to clean up this mess, get the right people in the right jobs, and then align them. In order to do this, you will need to understand the Market (the current one) – who is buying your product or service, what is your value prop, and does your market understand this value prop. Find out who the other players are – not just your biggest rivals, but new entrants to the market, and substitutes to your product or offering. Understand what needs to be done to “reconquer” the market and how you need to go about doing it. This is when you go back to your people to analyze if you have all the right people on your team.
Next head down to meet your Finance team and take stock of your company’s finances (one of the scariest parts!) How much operating budget do you have, how far can you stretch it, will the available finance be enough to support the actions that you need to take in order to do well in your market? Assess the viability of your current financial model. Based on your findings you may realize that you need to raise more capital for the business.
Move on to processes
Now that you have identified markets, have the right people, and are getting your finances in order – you need to put the right Strategy in place. Ask yourself, “How do I make the best use of my assets in order to meet my goals for this turnaround strategy?” Let’s assume you are called on to coach a basketball team to play in the NBA and when you get there, you notice that none of your members are taller than 5’2”, you have a problem here! Maybe the market your team should be looking at is soccer instead! This step is all about resetting, revamping, and rethinking. You need to map your assets to the right strategy. While in the earlier step you were focused on the current situation, while studying processes, you need to be focused on the future.
This leads to the question, “How do I design my Operations and processes to make my new strategy to come to life?” Once you get your operational processes lined up, you need to shift into Execution mode. Here, your team needs to be executing to their best possible levels and you will need to identify and measure KPIs on a regular basis.
When you are done with measuring KPIs and feel that things are on track, shift your attention to structures. Understand that you and your team are navigating change, hence setting Expectations at the start of the undertaking is crucial. Communicate effectively with all your stakeholders. Oversee Governance – this may relate to ethical aspects or compliance to rules and regulations within the industry. Finally study the entire organization as an Entity. Are your intellectual property rights in place? Are you in the clear with regard to all legal matters? When you manage structures, you are looking to clean things up and to tie up any loose ends, in order to make sure that your efforts to get the company on track are not hampered in any way.
Turnaround Strategy is all about looking at the “Business 360”. Since you can’t do everything yourself, you need both man and machine power to successfully bring a company back on track. Use smart software and technology to help you along the way and always, always, always listen to what your stakeholders are telling you. Conduct interviews, capture organizational insights, and correct misalignments. As a leader, especially as a Turnaround CEO, you need to bring your A-game and in many cases transform yourself in order to meet a tall order! Go get it!
Edwin has authored 9Lenses Insight to Action:A Social Approach to Business Optimization and Snapshot9 What’s Your Picture?:Accelerate Your Business Performance. Click here to download the first chapter of 9Lenses Insight to Action for free!