By Ben Hershey, 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC
Two manufacturers walk into the BCMC Show. One is a seasoned manufacturer who has been attending the show for many years and will learn something new, but really just goes to shake hands and be seen. The other manufacturer is new and eager, ready to learn and network with others at the show. Whether you are the first type or the second, BCMC is the place to go.
It is that time of year again when component manufacturers from around the country and world gather and have the opportunity to learn and network with each other, this year in Columbus, Ohio. My colleagues and I on the BCMC Committee work with the BCMC staff to provide an incredible show that is filled with new machinery, new educational opportunities, and, just as important, an opportunity to network. But remember, what you take out of it really is up to you. Your approach to BCMC — your strategy and how you link into the network of the show and its culture — is much like how you set the strategy and culture at your own company.
Traditional leadership doesn’t “cut it” anymore. Today, business success relies on exponential leadership and everything that embodies — such as openness, engagement, continuous learning, creative problem solving, and a growth mindset. Significant achievements are possible when these values are present everywhere from leadership to work culture. Legacies, reputations, and greater responsibilities depend upon what lies beneath the numbers that workers crunch. A company rewards itself when exponential leaders align culture with strategy. Culture must ripple through every act of policy and business strategy. When a leader signs the company name to a new contract or product, culture must be at work. When the company offers perks, benefits, and feedback, culture must be at the heart of it all. Strategy in your company goes nowhere without culture, and you as a leader must recognize this.
Consider Your Company’s Cultural Message
Many businesses forget the importance of culture and put strategy first. Perhaps they think culture takes care of itself, but that’s not the case. Every year as the BCMC Committee meets, we talk about the opportunities that everyone who attends BCMC has to network and how that weaves into the culture of the show. Company culture means taking care of each other to do more for the world with your services and products. For example, Starbucks was founded more on atmosphere and culture than it was coffee, and IBM focuses on worker collective capacity to cultivate value over finances, marketing, and strategy. Start with your culture, then align it with your company’s strategy. You must consider your company’s philosophy and message.
What do employees take home at the end of the day or a hard week? Do they think of themselves as second-class citizens doomed to merely following orders, or as an intrinsic and individual part of a company that cares? Perhaps your company even boasts to customers that you offer highly personalized service, but do your policies and practices support your own staff? Benefits and training are cut or don’t come through — here are your second-class citizens struggling to make do with what they’ve got. What is the message that your customer is receiving? More importantly, what is the message that your employees are communicating?
When you align culture with strategy, that situation shifts dramatically. Leadership is accessible, and employees aren’t closed off from each other. They cross-train and feel open to talking about questions and concerns, and this leads to employees on the front lines speaking up about process improvements, later rewarded with better pay and benefits. Those on the front lines are the first-class citizens of your company. So, what do you want your employees to take home — just a paycheck, or something more vital?
Innovation Derives From This Vital Alignment
Business strategy touches upon vision and culture, but you’re more likely to think of data, policy, and procedure. You’re more likely to consider measurement over meaning. Innovation in business is vital to success and growth, and that’s where exponential leaders come in to promote the alignment of culture and strategy. A recent survey showed companies possessed greater enterprise value growth at 30% and increased profit growth at 17% when their cultures and innovation strategies were “highly aligned.” Meanwhile, 36% stated their innovation strategy doesn’t align with their overall approach as a company, and 47% communicated that existing company culture failed to support innovation strategy. Innovation derives from this vital alignment. When company strategies are clear, culture arises to fill in the gaps and push the initiatives toward breakthrough success.
Go back to your mission. What does it define as its purpose? Go deeper by bringing the company values to the table at every meeting and task. Let your employees and customers influence the meaning of those values and your mission to continually learn and evolve — this increases the likelihood of aligning culture with strategy. Think exponentially as a leader to find the heart of your company. Culture is the forceful spirit and strategy is the instrument. Take pride in your services and products — do more social good for the world (a key desire for Gen Z and Millennial employees). Your customers are part of your culture, too, so listen to and innovate for their needs.
Part of the culture of BCMC is to provide you the opportunity, whether you are an exhibitor or attendee, to network with each other. It is a culture rich in history and one that is ever growing. Reach outside your market to other information sources for inspiration that can spark exciting and innovative strategies.
When you align culture with strategy, you transcend the limits of traditional business conduct. You still need to crunch numbers, but the data holds a more profound meaning — one that informs multiple departments working together toward cultivating something greater than the company itself. The team at 4Ward Consulting Group has been helping hundreds of companies with just this issue — setting a new course and providing a new strategy and culture for success. Let us help you as you set a new course after the show.
Just a few weeks remain before this year’s BCMC Show in Columbus, OH on October 22-25. There is still time to register, including onsite, so you can come back with some tools you can use as we close out 2019 and move into 2020. And while you are there, drop by and say hello to our 4Ward team at booth #1029.
Ben Hershey is CEO of the 4Ward Consulting Group, LLC team. When the industry needs an actual expert, they turn to 4Ward Consulting Group team with more than 100 years of experience. 4Ward Consulting Group isthe leading provider of Management and Manufacturing Consulting to the Structural Component and Lumber Industry. A Past President of SBCA, Ben has owned and managed several manufacturing and distribution companies and is Six Sigma Black Belt Certified. Ben has provided consulting to hundreds of Component Manufacturers, Lumber Dealers, and Millwork Operations in the past seven years. You can reach Ben at ben@4WardConsult.com or 623-512-6770.
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