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Are You Ready to Unbundle It?


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Former consumer products goods companies executive Elliot Haverlack is answering a few questions about his new book, Unbundle It. In the process, he’s also shedding light on how four-letter words—including the "f-word"—should be used all the time in the workplace. Enjoy!

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Are You Ready to Unbundle It?

  1. 1. Are  you  ready  to  Unbundle  It?       Former  consumer  products  goods  companies  executive  Elliot  Haverlack  is   answering  a  few  questions  about  his  new  book,  Unbundle  It.  In  the  process,   he’s  also  shedding  light  on  how  four-­‐letter  words—including  the  F-­‐word— should  be  used  all  the  time  in  the  workplace.  Enjoy!         What  motivated  you  to  write  Unbundle  It?     Throughout  my  career,  I  experienced  countless  matters  that  stagnated  or  ideas  and  opportunities  that   were  not  being  realized  because  they  were  tied  up  in  related,  but  ultimately  immaterial  nonsense.  I   found  that  if  we  could  unbundle  the  idea  or  matter  from  all  the  stuff  that  was  confounding  progress,   business  could  be  more  successful  –  and  profitable.         You  now  offer  a  consultation  service  via  How  would  you  describe  this  service?   We  offer  a  broad  spectrum  of  services.  At  one  end  of  the  continuum  we  offer  meeting  style  workshops   that  will  elevate  organizational  capacity,  capability,  and  cooperation.  At  the  other   end  we  specialize  in  individual  coaching  sessions  that  will  develop  leadership  skills   in  team  members  at  all  levels.    We  are  experts  in  coaching  budding  leaders  and   preparing  them  to  become  the  superstars  of  the  future.       Unbundle  It  addresses  some  of  the  most  common  problems  in  corporate   America.  Of  all  of  these  problems,  which  do  you  think  are  the  most  serious?   Simply  stated,  failure  to  focus  on  organizational  cooperation.  This  means   populating  your  team  with  members  who  share  your  values  and  developing  a  high   level  of  trust.     How  have  the  principles  of  Unbundle  It  impacted  your  own  life  and  business  experiences?   I  have  been  blessed  to  lead  some  of  the  most  amazing  teams  in  business…  Applying  a  simplified   perspective  has  provided  us  with  the  opportunity  to  accomplish  the  seemingly  impossible,  and  in  doing   so;  experience  the  thrill  of  winning  over  and  over  again  and  learning  from  our  failures.     In  my  personal  life  keeping  everything  in  perspective  has  created  an  indescribably  powerful  sense  of   wellbeing.  Simply  stated  I  love  life  and  have  had  the  opportunity  to  experience  adventures  that  I,  young   Elliott,  could  not  have  imagined.     In  the  book,  you  assert  that  in  business,  and  in  other  areas  of  life,  people  "complicate"  and   "bundle"  everything.  Can  you  give  us  an  example?     The  book  references  salt  and  pepper,  two  separate  things  that  are  almost  always  considered  together.   Why  must  one  always  have  both  if  one  only  wants  one  or  the  other?  It  is  simplistic—maybe  too  much   so.  But  when  applying  the  simple  thought  to  business,  what  if  we  were  to  take  an  idea  or  a  challenge,   and  pare  it  down…  separate  it  from  all  those  weights  tied  to  it  that  prevent  it  from  proceeding?  In  the   purest  sense,  what  would  it  take  to  move  that  idea  or  challenge  forward?      
  2. 2. Once  we  begin  to  think  of  things  in  that  way,  we  have  achieved  and  “unbundled”  state  that  gives  us  the   capacity  to  move  it  forward  or  resolve  the  challenge.  It  does  not  mean  that  the  surrounding  factors  just   disappear.  But  if  we  isolate  the  problem  or  idea,  and  solve  against  the  challenges  individually,  progress   occurs.  Otherwise,  bundled,  tied,  mired  down…  progress  and  progressive  thinking  are  slowed  or   stopped.     How  do  you  define  “bundling”  and  why  is  it  important  for  business  leaders  to  move  away  from  this   practice?     Bundling  is  the  tendency  that  business  leaders  have  to  overcomplicate  just  about  everything.  Speed   matters  in  business  and  complexity  its  enemy.  Imagine  a  world  where  insightful  decisions  can  be  made   quickly  and  deftly  because  the  self-­‐created  complication  has  been  removed  from  our  lives.     Can  you  share  an  anecdote  about  how  "bundling"  impeded  you/the  companies  you  worked  with?     I  could  write  a  book  on  this  topic.  When  I  was  a  young  man  the  company  I  worked  for  required  a  lengthy   list  of  daily  reports  that  were  not  relevant  and  rarely,  if  ever,  reviewed.  As  such,  three  things  occurred.   Supervisors  who  were  burdened  with  completing  the  reports  fraudulently  completed  the  same.   Supervisors  lost  confidence  in  the  leadership.  Supervisors  spent  up  to  20  percent  of  their  time   performing  activities  that  had  no  impact  on  any  meaningful  output.     Related  is  the  interesting  use  of  hourly  cleaning  logs  posted  in  public  restrooms.  My  question  is  who   decided  this  was  prudent?  In  my  experience  the  logs  are  either  blank,  behind,  filled  in  with  hours  that   yet  to  occur.  In  many  cases  the  restrooms  are  filthy  leading  me  to  want  to  meet  the  staff  member  who   claimed  to  have  cleaned  it  just  5  minutes  prior.  Could  it  be  that  team  member’s  time  might  be  better   used  in  actually  cleaning  the  restrooms  rather  than  spending  the  time  to  find  a  dry  erase  marker,  fill  in   the  log,  and  then  erase  the  times  so  they  can  be  filled  in  again  the  next  day.     Is  it  accurate  to  say  that  you  view  many  of  the  ways  today’s  leaders  operate,  are  ineffective,  off-­‐ target,  and  off-­‐base?   It  is  an  unfair  characterization  as  you  describe,  however  it  IS  fair  to  say  that  frequently  leaders  adopt   overly  bureaucratic  processes,  likely  enacted  with  the  best  of  intentions,  but  that  debilitate  their  teams   and  erode  trust.     How  has  your  background  helped  to  make  you  an  authority  on  unbundling?   We  are  all  products  of  the  life  we  have  had  the  privilege  to  lead.  In  my  case,  early  in  my  life  I  was   extremely  fortunate  to  have  great  outcomes  from  potentially  life  altering  misfortune.    While  I  had  the   opportunity  to  attend  an  Ivy  League  university,  the  personal  circumstances  at  the  time  made  the   challenges  of  that  an  insurmountable  opportunity.  I  instead  was  compelled  to  attend  a  small  state   college  near  the  town  where  I  grew  up.  There  I  had  the  great  blessing  to  meet  two  mentors  who  urged   me  to  explore  where  my  ambition  and  drive  could  lead  me.       A  year  of  unemployment  and  underemployment  after  graduation  provided  me  the  opportunity  to   reflect  on  the  self-­‐inflicted  bundling  that  had  ruled  my  life  until  that  point.    When  my  employment   break  came  I  unbundled  my  fears  and  my  life  and  heeded  the  advice  of  those  two  wise  advisors.  From   that  day  forward  I  have  never  looked  back  except  for  to  reflect  how  fortunate  I  was  to  have  been  given   the  opportunity  to  pursue  my  dreams.     In  retrospect  I  came  full  circle  at  the  age  of  40  when  I  sat  on  the  board  of  a  major  CPG  company  that   was  populated  almost  completely  with  Ivy  League  grads.  With  that  box  checked  I  elected  to  unbundle  
  3. 3. my  life  further,  resigned,  and  opted  to  lead  a  small  struggling  family  owned  business.  More  than  a   decade  of  23.9%  compounded  annual  growth  followed  and  with  it  the  fortune  of  living  in  unbundled   bliss.     What  is  the  one  piece  of  advice  you  hear  yourself  sharing  over  and  over  again?     If  you  want  to  see  productive  change  from  others,  you  must  first  be  willing  to  change  yourself.     Who  do  you  recommend  this  book  for?     Frankly  the  collection  of  life  lessons  compiled  in  this  book  makes  it  a  great  read  for  anyone.  But,  its   target  audience  is  business  leaders  who  want  to  empower  themselves  and  their  workforces.  It  is  for   those  in  the  working  world  who  have  found  themselves  mired  amongst  the  naysayers…  for  those   frustrated  by  the  confines  of  the  day  to  day  who  seek  to  break  through  and  help  others  come  along.       What  will  readers  gain  from  reading  Unbundle  It?     They  will  gain  critical  thinking  skills  to  help  discern  what  are  worthy  encumbrances  and  what  are  just   blocks  in  the  road.  More  than  that,  they  will  learn  how  to  navigate  through  and  around  them.     Ok,  what  four  letter  words  can  possibly  be  acceptable  in  business?   First,  it  is  not  any  of  the  ones  you  are  thinking—although  one  does  start  with  “f”.  Try  thinking  Team,   Love,  and  here  is  my  f-­‐bomb:  Free.  Work  those  into  your  thinking  and  you  and  your  team  can  begin  to   become  unbundled.  But  there  are  two  we  should  never  use:  They  and  Them.  Use  of  these  two  words   erodes  accountability  and  creates  confusion—conditions  that  debilitate  the  team.