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  • Peter O'Sullivan

A Consultant's View: 3 things I see that the CEO doesn’t

The most frequent question I get is: “how?” How is it that I can see and fix what highly skilled managers – including very talented CEO’s - can’t? The truth is that I do see the same things, I just have a way of organizing what I see and prioritizing what needs to get fixed – and what does not.


But first an important disclaimer. Consultants see what we know how to fix. If I was a marketing expert, I might see opportunities to increase sales. If I was an attorney, I might see poor deal structures. When taking advice from an “expert,” be sure to understand what his or her expertise is – or you might get a hammer looking for a nail when you need glue.


Since I am an operations generalist, I look at the financials (the scorecard) and how the company executes (how the scorecard got that way). To execute effectively, you need three things:


  1. Good Processes

  2. Competency and Accountability

  3. Good People


Processes: Do your people know what to do? What is the state of your IT / Systems infrastructure? How are problems solved? How do issues get escalated? Are there metrics are in place to know if you are performing?


Competency and Accountability: Do you have good, enforced HR policies? How is your training? Are bonuses derived from objective and subjective measures? How and why are employees promoted? Those metrics I asked about earlier - are they known and used by all or just a few?


People: How easy is it to get hired? What career aspirations do employees at all levels have – and can they going to realize them at the company? Do employees have time to innovate? Do they have whiteboards? Are they engaged?


John Wooden (legendary UCLA coach) once said that one of his few regrets was that he was not a good strategist - he just did the same thing over and over again. With ten NCAA titles in twelve seasons - four of them undefeated – it would seem that execution was the strategy.


For many companies, operational execution is the problem. But if your processes are in place, your people are held accountable and they are engaged, yet you are still not creating desired profits - maybe you need the help of a lawyer or marketing expert.


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