Any business can become stuck, by which I mean growth has stalled and the activities that used to produce satisfactory results are no longer working. It’s easy to do. You can get used to doing things a certain way. You can become comfortable with money coming in from a few main customers. Then changes occur in the operating environment. If the business doesn’t adapt to those changes, you get stuck. Revenue stalls, profits become flat, customers drift away.  Sometimes things breakdown internally. Processes become an end unto themselves and ossify into bureaucracy. Individuals run out of steam; teams stagnate. Corporate cultures can become sour, spoil, and turn poisonous – with factions, alliances, and hidden agendas. Even if things haven’t degenerated into Survivor Island, you may have already started to lose your best people and your best customers. Don’t despair. There’s hope.

Stuck?  Become Unstuck

Get back to basics with Six Weeks to Better Business. In his book, Walking to Destiny: 11 Actions an Owners MUST Take to Rapidly Grow Value & Unlock Wealth (2016), Christopher Snider outlines a series of workshops a business owner, his/her advisors, and management team can use to jump start the Value Acceleration Methodology. A company seeking to become unstuck should consider using this 6-week program.

Before beginning the process, however, a significant data collection effort must be undertaken. Gather every bit of information possible about the market and company performance metrics over the past five years, if possible. Include new business won, customers lost, employee turnover, revenue, profit, and other financial metrics. Wayne Burkan, in Wide Angle Vision (1996) suggests that you seek out and learn as much as possible from your former customers and former employees. Additionally, sit down with any frequently complaining customers. While gathering information about your customers, learn as much as possible about your customers’ customers. Also seek out the opinions of your fringe employees, the ones who seem to march to a different drummer. Once you have gathered all the information you can and have organized it in such a way that you can begin to see the patterns, you are ready to launch.

Six Weeks to Better Business

Week 1  Education

During the first workshop the team will review and analyze the information that was gathered. Follow Jim Collin’s advice from Good to Great (2001) and confront the brutal facts without losing hope. The deliverable of this workshop is that the team understands the facts of the current situation; strengths, weaknesses, patterns and themes; the factors that drive the value of a business, and the Value Acceleration Methodology that you will follow going forward.

Week 2  Strategic Framework

This workshop will include casting a vision of the company’s preferred future, validating or adjusting core values, purpose, opportunities and risks. The team will set a 10-year goal, and development 3-5 year quantifiable targets (market value, revenue, profit, market share, etc.) and the two areas they think they can dominate. Define 3-5 year capabilities that will enable reaching 3-5 year targets.

Week 3  Next 12 Months and Next Quarter

Define the one-year SMART goals (value, revenue, profit, market share, etc). Define no more than 5 key initiatives (priorities) over the next 12 months. Define the next quarter quantified goals and no more than 5 priority actions to be completed in the next 90 days. These priority actions must be tied to key weaknesses that, if addressed, will have a significant positive impact on the business’s situation. Define a few key metrics for both one year and quarterly goals to measure progress. Assign a champion to each priority. Assign the work to be prepared for the Alignment workshop.

Week 4  Alignment

Each champion describes their action/project using the Opportunity Assessment format, covering: the history of the issue or problem to be solved and why it is important, possible courses of action, recommended course of action, cost-benefit analysis, 90-day timeline and team structure, 3-5 milestones, description of the deliverable, define and commit resource requirements, define who is accountable for each task in the plan, name an accountability buddy.

Week 5  Metrics & Feedback System

This workshop develops a handful of key performance metrics that will provide weekly, monthly, and quarterly feedback. Teams will be continuously aligned to these metrics. Design dashboards so the business owner and all team members can check the status of all tasks at a glance.

Week 6  Rhythm

This workshop defines the meeting and workshop rhythm to be used by the core team for the first 90-day cycle and moving forward. Set quarterly Renewal Workshop dates. Assign ownership of the calendar. Recommended rhythm:

Mid-month: 1 to 1 check-in workshop (owner and champions)

Monthly: Accountability Workshop (core team and champions)

Quarterly: Renewal Workshop (champions report results, select next 5 actions from the Prioritized Action Plan, assign champions to each new action, plan the next 90-day cycle)

Stuck?  Learn more about getting unstuck.

Go beyond what the world expects.