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Monday, March 24, 2008

Building a great business

Today, I took another step forward in building a great business. I allocated close to $5,000 to send myself and two key employees, Chase and Sherri Herriot to the Great Game of Business in Springfield, Missouri, in June.

The "Great Game" is a program initiated by open-book management guru Jack Stack. Stack advocates employee ownership models -- but believes employees can only be owners when they think and act like owners, and to do that, they need to both care about and understand business fundamentals.

Not everyone agrees that employee ownership is the right way to go; and certainly I don't want to simply give the business away to its employees -- they will need to pay for their shares, sufficient to fund my 'retirement' (I use quotes here deliberately because I have absolutely no interest in retiring -- when my senior years arrive I wish to continue productive work and contributions.) Nevertheless, Stack's approach, which combines key metric measurements with incentives for productive achievement, appears ideal for the type of business I wish to run. (Other models, undoubtedly, are also successful. For example, family businesses which hand shares from one generation to the other can be truly successful and valid, and other entrepreneurs build great businesses and then sell the enterprise to outsiders -- employees can stay along for the ride, but they don't collect equity shares.)

Meanwhile, we are preparing for our regular bi-annual planning meeting to be facilitated by consultants Bill Caswell and Upkar Bikhu of Caswell Corporate Coaching Company. Bill and Upkar have given us the systematic and organizational framework for solid and reliable business operations -- I expect the tools we will obtain in Springfield this June will help us refine our approaches and then set forward for real growth.

In the meantime, in a few hours, the next issue of the Construction Marketing Ideas Newsletter will reach readers. Please feel free to share your thoughts and comments.

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