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How Companies Can Regain Momentum


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Rudy Trebels is President & CEO of Wedgewood Investment Group. With over 35 years of experience within the financial services industry, Rudy is known as a successful business leader and innovator within the industry. In this presentation, he includes the latest findings in a recent Harvard Business Review March 2016 article on reigniting growth within companies.

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How Companies Can Regain Momentum

  1. 1. How Companies Regain Momentum Presentation by Rudy Trebels
  2. 2. “Momentum” In business, momentum means you’re doing more than simply getting things done. It’s that feeling of satisfaction, the belief that you can achieve big goals and complete important projects that fulfill you both personally and professionally. Image Source:
  3. 3. Today’s Business Environment But with today’s business environment where whole industries can be turned upside down in a moment’s notice through a technological change, your title could be gone in minutes.
  4. 4. This causes many companies to lose momentum and slow in growth. In turn, successful companies often face the predictable crisis of stall-out — a term coined by the Harvard Business Review to describe a sudden large drop in revenue and profit growth. Source:
  5. 5. Reasons For Stall-Out In a recent article from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) magazine’s March 2016 edition, researchers found the culprits to stall- out are usually complexity and bureaucracy. Source:
  6. 6. –Chris Zook and James Allen, HBR authors and Leaders of Bain & Company’s influential Strategy practice “Business has almost always become too complex, most often owing to bureaucracy that slows the company’s metabolism, or internal dysfunction that distorts information and hampers managers’ ability to make rapid decisions to take swift action on them.” Source:
  7. 7. The authors argue in a forthcoming book that most companies with sustainable growth share 3 specific attitudes and behaviors. Source:
  8. 8. Here are the 3 research findings from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) article: Source:
  9. 9. Rediscover Your Insurgent Mission To begin tackling stall-out, companies need to strip away complexity and excess cost in order to liberate resources, narrow focus, and harness the vigor that drove the company’s early growth. Image Source: #1. Source:
  10. 10. HBR Study Authors of the HBR article studied 10 successful rescue- and-rebirth operations and found that all of them involved reducing operating costs by at least 8% and sometimes more than 25%. Source:
  11. 11. Attacking “complexity” Successful attacks on complexity are left from the top down and proceed in the following sequence: Source:
  12. 12. First, the company must shed noncore assets and businesses. Next, it must develop a simpler strategy for the remaining businesses. Then it can attack complexity in the core processes. Finally, it can focus on reducing product complexity in design, variations, and customization. Source:
  13. 13. Attacking “budget”: The HBR authors found that as companies grow in size, internal budget processes become democratic, spreading resources evenly across businesses and opportunities. But democratic investment in the face of crisis is a sure path to mediocrity. Source:
  14. 14. Zook & Allen say the opposite is needed to reverse stall-out At companies where it was avoided, leaders had made bold investment decisions to re-differentiate the company, usually establishing a major new capability that set off waves of growth. Source:
  15. 15. Obsess over Your Business’s Front Line Companies that sustain growth live and breathe the front line of their business. This obsession, which can often be traced back to a strong founder, shows up in three ways: #2. Source:
  16. 16. 1. an elevated status for frontline employees, 2. a preoccupation with individual customers at all levels of the company, 3. and an institutional curiosity about the details of the business. Source:
  17. 17. “Frontline obsession” A frontline obsession is most obvious in “high-touch” consumer businesses such as luxury hospitality. But the trait can exist in subtler ways in a range of industries: Source:
  18. 18. For example, Consider the product obsession of Steve Jobs and the legendary attention to detail of the wine pioneer Robert Mondavi, who believed in the saying “The best fertilizer for a vineyard is the owner’s footsteps.” Image Source: Source:
  19. 19. Instill an Owner’s Mindset The third factor in reversing stall-out involves a management idea that first came into vogue 40 years ago: the owner’s mindset. Image Source: #3. Source:
  20. 20. The “Owner’s Mindset” Designed to instill balance- sheet discipline and accountability by aligning employees and shareholders, this concept is frequently misunderstood. Image Source: Source:
  21. 21. Too often, it implies an incumbent’s mindset: a concern with hunkering down and extracting call from the existing business, and a loss of interest in innovating, serving customers uniquely, and fully valuing frontline employees. Source:
  22. 22. The HBR article says, “At its best, the owner’s mindset focuses on the long term, has a strong bias toward speed and action, and embraces personal responsibility for employees’ actions and for how resources are used.” Source:
  23. 23. In conclusion: Stall-outs are frightening for companies— if ignored or mishandled, they can lead to lasting reversals of fortune. Source:
  24. 24. If you liked this piece, visit: Rudy Trebels is President & CEO of Wedgewood Investment Group. With over 35 years of experience within the financial services industry, Rudy is known as a successful business leader and innovator within the industry.