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Introduction

 

WE WERE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT!

We were in the business of profit improvement, of corporate renewal, of early-decline and preemptive turnaround. We were doing something right! We saw it in the results our clients achieved. We saw it in the enthusiasm, in the fire, of their managers.

We had been in consulting long enough to know that the results we were looking at were unusual for our business, the consistency of the results even more so. And, the renewed fire rarer still.

We knew from experience, and business literature would later bear us out, that most "corporate improvement" programs were disappointing; from MBO to TQM and all the alphabet of programs in between, only a third or thereabouts showed significant - i.e. 10% or better - improvements on the bottom line.

Likewise, we knew that fully two-thirds of mergers and acquisitions were disappointing, if not worse. Again that was something the literature would report—and to this day still does. That success rate of 33% seemed to be some kind of business constant. Even Reengineering, the most recent and acclaimed darling of management programs, shows that same unvarying percentage.

But then it was 1980, we were looking at our clients' results and comparing them. We had opened our practice, under our own shield, four years before, after years with large consulting firms. We had elected to do our work a different way. With a different philosophy. With different expectations.

It was bearing fruit, it seemed. We were enabling clients to achieve better results, more frequently than before. Perhaps twice as often as traditional approaches would provide.

But still, we saw, some clients would not respond. We found eventually it was the companies that did not catch fire, the companies where the management did not grow enthused, were the ones that did not respond, that did not show results. And we did not know why. Not really.

And so, the search for results continued. But now we added to it another search, a search for the factors that would let the spirit of companies catch fire. We guessed that once we knew what these were and could quantify them then we could effect the outcome better. Or tell our clients why they should not even try.

By trial and error, again and again, we changed the way we worked. Always looking at results. Always asking why things worked.

Improvements came. Better results. Quicker results. At less cost in time and effort and dollars. We began referring to bottom line results in terms of multiples of ROI per year, rather than fractions.

But explanations, satisfying explanations, still eluded us.

By 1990 we knew we had created a process that was consistently and reliably enabling clients to radically alter—for themselves—the innate trajectories of their companies. It enabled clients to create surges in performance, especially systemic performance, even from initial positions of corporate strength, and to sustain them.

This process also enabled clients to re-ignite within them the entrepreneurial spirit that they had started with. That fire, it seemed, was the core driver of performance.

We were happy about those results, of course; our clients were happy too. After all, in the real world of business results are what is most important. But an explanation would be nice. And we were often asked.

We had, of course, had some epiphanies. But such illuminations come when and where they wish and can not be commanded.

The first major one arrived in 1981. It was at a management conference on Marco Island , in the overheard comments of an irate banker. It explained to us why "strategic" planning didn't work. She was right, we immediately knew, and after that we stopped that kind of work. And moved on.

Our second came the self same year at another conference in New York ; epiphanies came, it seemed, at conferences that year. There we learned the need all companies have for courage, let's be honest - GUTS, in management; we had thought, it seemed, like many of our consulting kind that analysis was king; or perhaps finance was.

The next came in 1982. We witnessed, close up, the triumphant turnaround of a great US company, a household name, as it pulled back from the brink of insolvency. We saw within it, entire units, high performing units that had never been in trouble, surging in performance and profits and becoming younger, more aggressive, more innovative, along with the units that had been in trouble.

Each year since then, one by one, epiphanies have come—even September 11th brought to us the proud lesson of Giuliani.

One by one we wrote about them. Seeking our own understanding in our written explanations. First in white papers, just for clients. Later, in published articles as the business magazines began to hear about results.

Some of these articles, particularly those that were published multiple times, became the chapters of this book. These address the underlying explanations as we saw them at the time, though only dimly at first.

But, because bottom line results are more important for our clients (and us) than any explanation, each chapter also addresses the PROCESS, how that works, and how to make it work.

We call it The Corporate Renewal Processİ.

Its first purpose, and its last, is the improvement of the business AND the bottom line.

How it works is by renewing and revitalizing the overall organization and re-igniting its spirit. And then letting the renewed, reenergized, rekindled organization create the surges in performance for itself.

It is a simple process. Quite simple—as riding a bicycle is simple. And, like riding a bicycle, easier by far to do than to describe in writing. Because so much of the process has components that address the inner drives of the company, to really understand it and really get a sense of it, requires one to both see it as it happens and experience the spirit within the management teams catch fire.

However, to compensate in some small part for this difficulty, the chapters all deal with the process and from different perspectives.

But, for the curious among you, why does it work?

Well, over the years our explanations have grown simpler and that suggests we are getting closer to the truth. We believe, that:

  • Each company is a living entity, with its own unique personhood, its own operating dynamic, its own spirit. Each has an innate capacity (and instinct) to grow and thrive and heal itself when injured. Just as people have.
     
  • Each corporate entity can be spoken to and touched and changed by those who know how. And in turn can speak and make its needs be known to those who learn to listen.
     
  • The process that we use, The Corporate Renewal Processİ, enables CEOs and managing officers and their teams to access this spirit, this essential core of their companies and spark it to catch fire. And cause the fire to trigger change.
     
  • The changed, renewed companies then simply perform differently.

This is what we believe. But belief is not essential for the working of the process; that worked long before we had an explanation. And works for all who use it, belief or not.

But there is just one small caveat, one small requirement:

Within the company, there must be a leader who is ambitious for the company, who has the courage to look deep into that company's soul and have his people look there too; and, who by presence, by word, and by action, gives courage.

Go now and build your fire . . .
  Build it in the belly of your company.
    And let your company be renewed
      Body,
        Soul &
          Bottom Line.

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