How to Destroy a Company in 10 Easy Steps

July 22, 2014

It’s hard to believe that we have already started the second half of 2014! What a great way to start out the 3rd quarter with our Leadership Event in Kalamazoo this past Friday.

Our speaker, Chris Schauer, presented the topic “How to Destroy a Company in 10 Easy Steps,” to more than 100 area business leaders.

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We hope you enjoyed the presentation on Friday as much as we did. For those of you who missed out, stay tuned…a video presentation will be available for purchase soon!

As a recap for the month of July, below are the Round Table notes that focused on a similar topic: “Easy Steps to Destroy a Business, What Not to Do.”

Interested in getting involved in a Round Table or a Leadership Event? Feel free to contact us! 

July Topic: “Easy Steps to Destroy a Business, What Not to Do.”

 Kalamazoo Tuesday July 8, 2014

By not doing the following things, you can easily destroy any business:

  • Be dedicated to our customer’s needs, respect and compensate our employees.
  • Accountability, Balance, Commitment, Empowerment, Integrity, Leadership, Ownership,
  • Passion, Quality, Respect, Risk Taking, Service Excellence
  • Good open communication between you and the customer
  • We need TRUST to bring VALUE.
  • Pay attention to details.  It is the little things that creep into big things.
  • Keep focus the long term investment.
  • Open communication – keeping in mind everyone is not the same.  Trust=Win, Win Intervention.
  • It takes discipline
  • Understanding
  • Not destroying your people emotionally, overwhelming them with work.  Balance
  • Talent + Fit x Investment = Growth
  • Lay out the right place for employee.  The right seat on the bus. Invest in yourself, employees, training, development, forward looking.
  • Making sure every employee has pride and feels part of the team.  Example: When someone asked the janitor at NASA what he did today, he replied, “I put people on the moon.”
  • Learning – always learning.  Apply what we learn and developing it.
  • Have a team member agreement/understanding that no one comes to work to be mediocre.
  • We support to be excellent.
  • Recognize what people do right and improvements they make.
  • Lack of planning
  • Worn out, checked out, not creative anymore
  • Insular– think of yourself as an island.  Not paying attention to the outside.

What we must have:

  • Goals
  • Cash Flow
  • Ability to  re-invent themselves
  • Balance – Delegation
  • Know the problems
  • Maturing with the market
  • Keep up with technology – the latest and greatest because our competitors are
  • Keep Thumb on the Pulse. Does the CEO know what is going on?
  • Leading indicators/lagging indicators making decisions at the appropriate time.
  • Having the right leadership.  Do they know who to monitor, drive and report?
  • Plan – If you don’t plan you don’t have a future.
  • Priorities: Matthew 16:26 What profits a man if he gains the whole world and yet loses his own soul?
  • Appreciate employees.  You can expect a lot out of them, but they must be appreciated.

Take A-ways

  • Accountability-not going solo
  • Goals – Where do you want to be in 5 years? What will it take to get there?
  • Learning a better way to get things done.  Always look for ways to make a better mouse trap.
  • Continuous improvements.  Get everyone on the team to have pride.  To be able to voice and own it.
  • Communicator-Leadership.  Having and fostering relationships equals a higher performance.
  • Growth as a person. Contribute maximum work/freedom in family/value of the person
  • Getting everyone on the team engaged. Plan and get knowledge of how it all comes together.  Keep active and stay involved.
  • Assume good intent and seek to clarify
  • Don’t destroy your people.  Be courageous.  Have the courage to do what you know is right to do.
  • Nobody comes to work to do mediocre work.  Strive for excellence and have accountability.
  • Appreciate employees – take them to lunch, etc.
  • Never stop pursuing talent and miss that next great employee.  Always aggressively look for top talent for all fields.
  • Keep all the right people

 Kalamazoo Thursday July 10, 2014

What root causes businesses to fail?

      • Not reinventing yourself
      • Not training/developing your people
      • Inability to adapt with the ever changing environment
      • Inability to Profile Prospects
      • Lost focus
      • Not having your hand on the pulse
      • Cash flow
      • Not having a good checks and balance reporting system
      • Lack of accountability
      • Afraid to fail
      • No vision
      • Too many metrics
      • Overcommitted – no balance
      • Not knowing where our Sandbox is (geographically)
      • Not willing to say “No”
      • Not meeting needs of the client
      • Not profiling clients
      • Not following the Process- Succession Plan
      • Having the mindset: Do as I say, not as I do.
      • Lack of discipline – analogy…You want to go on a diet.  Your goal: lose weight, plan: exercise more, eat less. Outcome:  you lose weight (Vison/Goal/Plan=Results) Anything worth having is worth working for. Plan instead of just working and then planning.

Take a way:

      • What is your Sandbox?  What is your Focus?
      • Discipline – weight loss analogy
      • Discipline –Success when you follow the process
      • Learn, Master, Change
      • Do not rest on past successes.  Modeling a new opportunity for next year.

 Kalamazoo Friday, July 11, 2014

How can you destroy a business?

      • Promoting people beyond their level of competence, strictly based on tenure.
      • Law of diminishing returns…grow too fast & not able to keep up the quality.
      • Law of inertia, once something gets moving in the wrong direction, it’s hard to stop it and start building momentum in the right direction.
      • Small business: so much is invested in so few employees that when one leaves it can turn things upside down.
      • Doing things ok, but quite well enough, didn’t anticipate or prepare for the bad times.
      • Have to be awake and alive every moment, seek balance. Get to the point of exhaustion when you don’t have that vitality you fail. All these little things add up.
      • Leaders don’t realize their blind spots. Surround themselves with yes people. Need the debate and growth of those who see things differently than you do.
      • Lack of accountability, complacency. Lack of authenticity & urgency.

How can you avoid this?

      • Figure out what it is you’re trying to achieve.
      • Are you interested in improving or just looking for justification for what you’re already doing?
      • Get rid of your “yes” people. The worst thing you can have is an organization of yes people.
      • Develop your effective leaders. They have the ability to really enhance the organization.
      • Giving up authority to prominent people is the essence of a good org.
      • Is the leader really interested in achieving the most from an organization?
      • Need to develop your leaders. Really good leaders are leaders who can develop other leaders. Need at least one of these people (if it isn’t you).
      • Don’t exhaust yourself dealing with the non performers, invest energy on the people who are taking your organization to the next level.
      • People are so involved in the business that you forget you’re a leader, not just a doer. Entrepreneurs struggle with this. Your true role is to be the pilot looking ahead. If you don’t do this right you will get exhausted. Need to recognize that you need help.
      • Development requires some transformation from the negative into a positive.
      •   Why would you invest in something that doesn’t work? Don’t forget you’re mistakes.
      • Problem= we think of growth as always a good thing, but you can out grow your quality.
      • You can’t always grow. Stay focused on what you’re doing. Why are you growing? Is it leading to a fall?


      • A lot of companies fail to focus & stay in touch
      • Look at the leading indicators.
      • Need to stay in touch & engaged. But the kind of engaged that keeps other people engaged. Have to keep people accountable & not let things slide.
      • If you give people authority, you expect accountability.
      • Active leadership – key to solve mission drift. Show your people you’re paying attention to what gets done.
      • People need to know what’s expected of them.
      • A leader knows that everybody has a different way to connect. A leaders job is to make sure everyone is working together – so when you’re not there, their able to work.
      • Should never criticize, condemn or complain.
      • PDCA – plan do check adjust. People get to caught up in the planning & doing to make time to check to see if it was a good plan…and adjust when necessary.
      • How well an organization learns is a measure of success.
      • If you’re not looking to learn, you’re going to miss something. Even a new employee can teach you something. A new person is going to see the blind spots.
      • Our culture is not all command and control leaders anymore.
      • Greatest leadership example is Jesus. Appropriate confrontation, command, questions & guidance. Servant leadership.
      • A leader needs to ask those difficult questions. Thought provoking.
      • Get people thinking instead of giving the answer all the time.
      • When you’re in a fire fight, you need command & control. In training you need to create competence & independence, not obedience.
      • Getting people to deal with reality is difficult.
      • “The harder you work, the luckier you get”
      • Pain before pleasure is the good kind…not the other way around. Have to put in the work before the good things come.

Grand Rapids, Tuesday, July 8, 2014 

Your Challenge:

        • Lack of Cash Flow
        • Undercapitalized
        • Lack of Communication (Buy-in)
        • Disregard for compliance
        • Lose customer and client focus
        • Lack of strong systems
        • Lack of competent people
        • Lack of passion, best in the world attitude and understanding the economic engine of your organization (Good to Great)
        • Poor Top Guy culture
        • Failure to meet expectations of customers
        • Incorrect people on your team
        • Not investing in your business / team
        • Self-centered leadership
        • Not addressing issues in the right way or in a timely manner
        • Leader is in an information bubble
      • The Solution:
        • Change leadership – Maxwell’s Law of the Lid
        • Build true teams that address true problems
        • Understand the need to have the right people, with the right process and the right product (three P’s)
        • Measure key business indicators and hold accountable
        • Develop clean and effective processes
        • Solid problem identification…..what is the real problem
        • Capital Infusion
        • Reinvention is the key to sustainability
        • Delegation of responsibility and authority (and get out of the way)
        • Focus on quality
      • The Take Away
        • Get after it……problems do not get better with time
        • Focus efforts……measure……hold accountable…..repeat
        • Execute

 Grand Rapids, Thursday, July 10, 2014

“What do you think went wrong on the Titanic?”  Some of the answers were:  A feeling of invincibility, lack of connection to reality, loss of perspective, wrong motives, lack of trust, and a lethal combination (literally) of taking shortcuts in contingency planning – referencing not equipping the ship with enough lifeboats.

Next we talked about some specific challenges within situations that we’re each facing right now.

1)      New organizational leadership responsibilities, lack of control over outcomes, lack of control over time, managing the fear factor, indecision over which metrics to be measuring, other peoples’ complacency in the context of accepting mediocre levels of performance and job satisfaction.

2)      It’s not easy to hear God amidst so much noise.

We discussed some great solutions.

1)      Consider what’s the worst that can happen, because frequently that’s not really as bad as we might be imagining. Call it gaining perspective.

2)      Take the time to ask for feedback that provides realistic options.  Then listen.

3)      Look back to evaluate God’s timing.  From that perspective sometimes we can gain valuable understanding, insight and appreciation for connections between occurrences that we may have been previously perceiving as unrelated.

4)      Give thanks.  Stay humble.

5)      Don’t hire the wrong person, don’t put a person in the wrong role, don’t over-manage people.

6)      Take time to be learn, to be a student.

7)      Look to the Lord for order.

8)      Clarify what is success.

These were the group’s final key takeaways.

1)      Since God really wants us to succeed (He is love) take the perspective that your business is really His business.

2)      Don’t try to lead in isolation, take time to develop trusted teams of people.  Adjust those teams as necessary.  Don’t stop listening.

3)      Find the fun, embrace the joy.  These are outgrowths from the fruit of the Spirit, which comes from following the will of God.

 Marshall, Monday July 9, 2014

We discussed the things we agreed might destroy a Company.

    • Managers who lie
    • Unfair treatment of employees
    • Absence of a good Business Plan
    • The absence of a Company Vision which is bold and honest.
    • Management that lacks trust