HAVING A MISSION RATHER THAN JUST A MISSION STATEMENT
HAVING A MISSION RATHER THAN JUST A MISSION STATEMENT
What do we want to be? What do we want to do? What do you want to have?
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Audrey Carmichael: Great, Emily. How are you?
Emily Novotny: I’m doing well. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us for this Clean and Simple podcast.
Audrey Carmichael: Thanks for having me.
Emily Novotny: Well, Audrey, I know you a little bit, but could you go ahead and introduce yourself for those who don’t know you?
Audrey Carmichael: Sure. Again, my name is Audrey Carmichael. I’m a client-coach at Six Disciplines Consulting Services. I’ve been with Six Disciplines for going on three years now and what we do at Six Disciplines is we provide services that include strategic planning and execution among some other things, but I think that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Emily Novotny: Yes, indeed. Audrey, I know you are a subject matter expert on strategic planning. So could you just start with you telling us a little bit more about your background?
Audrey Carmichael: Sure. Well, I’m just kind of started from my early career, so early on I had the good fortune to work at a really good company. I saw the value of strategic planning and having great leadership that put together a great plan and articulated it really clearly to the employees. So I just thought that’s how everybody did it. It was really clear where we were going and what our jobs were and what we were supposed to do. That was my early exposure to strategic planning, even in my very first job out of school.
Then later in my life, I also got to see what it looked like to work for an organization that was struggling. Struggling with its mission what it wanted to be, struggling with his vision, and by then, I was in management, and it was really hard to manage and it was hard for people to work there. So I got to, kind of, see both sides of the value of strategic planning. So just experiencing it as an employee or member of an organization strategic planning; I got to experience that way.
Through my career, I came up through operations and became a Six Sigma Black Belt and a project manager. All of which is focused on having plans and executing plans and knowing what your goals are. I became very comfortable with that kind of thinking. Then when I recently started with Six Disciplines, I became certified in the Six Disciplines methodology of strategic planning, so that was a learning experience, that I was trained and mentored into helping other organizations, you know coming in from the outside, and helping them put together their strategic plan.
Emily Novotny: In total, how many years of experience do you think you have even on the employee side versus the management side of strategic planning?
Audrey Carmichael: That’s a good question. If I were to look back, I’d say probably 15 years.
Emily Novotny: What would you say now that you have all this experience, what does the process look like for someone that is struggling from start to finish. How do you calculate the Six Disciplines help from the start?
Audrey Carmichael: Sure, so we start working with a client, it’s kind of a long process, so the first thing is we give them homework, and we provide some services to get started. So first is gathering information. We help them through surveys, and some other tools to gather information from their customer or their employees. They take a good look at their competitive landscape; make sure they understand their past performance. We’re kind of putting it all together; Like what’s our current state right now? What can we learn from that? Then what we do is we get the senior leadership team together, multidisciplinary team, and we take them away from the day-to-day of their business and conduct a two-day retreat. So, we bring all of the results from our information gathering and have good conversations around synthesizing them.
Then, during the retreat, we do a SWOT analysis, which the team takes all this data and also their own experiences that they’ve gained working at other places, their insights into how their organization is working. We do a SWOT analysis where we look at the organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, that they might have and threat. So we really start with SWOT analysis and all of this is laying some groundwork. Okay, so this is where we are, here are some opportunities and things that might threaten us.
Then we start really working on the mission, and this is really important. We help them define their mission, or if they’ve already put some thought into creating a mission, we refine and look at it to make sure it’s still really valid. It’s a really important part of it. It’s not just fluff because really it helps you think about what’s the purpose of the organization? Why do you even exist? Why are you trying to make a living working as a commercial laundry instead of just taking your money and investing it in the stock market and get that gross? What about being a commercial laundry is driving you. That’s a really great conversation to have so sometimes the senior leader will have one idea. The other members of the leadership team will have different ideas. So it’s a really great exercise to kind of again lay the groundwork.
Then we step back with it and say ‘Okay, let’s think big.’ Don’t even think about how you’re going to do this, but just think big and define a long-term vision. Where do you want to be in 10 years? What do you want to have and what do you want to do in 10 years? Go ahead and think big because we’re going to figure out how to get there in the next step. So, we literally have them put together a statement of be, do, and have: what do we want to be? What do we want to do? What do you want to have?
We ask our clients to think really broadly in terms of their financial performance, in terms of how they want to serve their employees and the community, in terms of what they would like to get out of running this organization, so it’s a really broad brush. So then, we say ‘okay. If this is where we want to be.’ We then start putting together a series of measurable goals that are there to help move you from wherever you are today, have you do a really good analysis on where you are, your current state, to achieving your vision.
So these measurable goals would break them down into different categories, but they include the category of growth, a category of people, category of operational continuous improvement, things like that. So we think very broadly. We’re not just putting together a financial plan. We set goals, and we say, ‘Okay. This is where we are today. In 10 years, this is where we want this goal to be. For example, if we just take revenue, let’s say we’re 12 million dollar revenue company now, our big vision is in 10 years we want to get to 40. Okay, that’s fine. So we know we’re going to go from 10 to 40 and then part of making the plan is putting the goals in between your one year, two year ,three or four etc. So we developed a whole set of goals; some people know those as KPIs. We call them vital few objectives. So then we say, ‘All right, great. So now we know where you are, we know your strengths and weaknesses, what are you doing today to get you to your vision?’
So if the trajectory that you’re on today in 10 years is going to get you to where you want to be for your vision great, but there’s probably at least a few of your goals that just doing what you’re doing today is not going to get you to your vision. So we take a look at that, and we do a gap analysis when we say, ‘Okay doing what you’re doing now, you’re going to get about halfway to your vision. What do you need to do differently once you need to change so that you can achieve that part of your vision. What we’re doing in that time is we’re basically defining key initiatives. So these are really big projects, the long-term focus for the company. So these might be things like getting an acquisition is might be buying up additional routes. This might be building a new depot to serve a different geographic area. It could be any of a number of things, but it’s what you have to do differently over the next, let’s say three to five years, to get to your vision.
So stepping back, we’ve got goals. We know how we want to progress to them over the years. We figured out a gap analysis. Now, we have our initiatives laid out, the things that we have to do differently to get there. So then we take these initiatives and we start building out detailed project plans for those, and this is just kind of project management 101. We say somebody’s got to own these pieces. We have deadlines and clear objectives for all of these. All of that is part of our putting together the strategic plan.
Emily Novotny: Well, Audrey, you definitely are a subject matter expert in this field. I believe there’s a lot of strategic planning software, management companies, and businesses all around, what makes Six Disciplines different? What’s your specialty? Why would somebody specifically want to work with you?
Audrey Carmichael: One thing that we do is we don’t want you to do all this work and put together a great strategic plan and put it in a binder on a shelf. Companies that work with that with us don’t do that because we don’t let them. We really become part of your team. So we put this whole plan together and guess what? We’re going to come back in at least every quarter to meet with the whole team. We have coaching sessions and progress sessions with the senior leader at least every other week. It just depends on the frequency that works best for that particular leader. So we’re really part of your team. We keep showing up, making sure you’re on track.
Every year we take a look at the plan that you set out. We take a look at your progress over the last year, and we put together the next year’s annual plan. Okay, here’s where we are. Let’s keep marching toward our vision. What do we need to do this year? So our plan is living, it’s not something you would just stick on your shelf. In addition, the Six Disciplines Methodology is part of an integrated system. It actually encompasses more than strategic planning. So, of course, this starts with that and as we get to know our clients better were able to partner with them and identifying other ways, we can help them. So we’re not just strategic planning. So, for example, I mentioned I came from operations. So I do LEAN training, call it LEAN Laundry, where we do training of team members and project support. So if we identify through the strategic planning and execution phase that they need a little bit of a nudge or work on their operations, they can engage us for LEAN Laundry training.
We also do leader development and DISC workshops. So we have a lot of tools that we can bring to help a client and all different ways. Another reason that we particularly serve the laundry industry very well is our experience in the laundry industry makes a big difference. So one thing is we’re really deeply involved with TRSA and CSCNetwork. So we kind of understand the industry forces and drivers and challenges that the independent laundries are having, so that’s really helpful. Another thing is compared to I would say like a product delivery company like somebody who’s a manufacturer or who’s the distributor, your financial systems are different laundry operational metrics are different just having route based services is pretty unique. So we understand the business, and we speak your language. So that’s why we really like working with a laundry and the more we do, the better we get at it.
Emily Novotny: How did you guys initially get involved with the laundering industry?
Audrey Carmichael: We’re headquartered in Findlay, Ohio. And we were not really specialized in the laundry industry for a long time. We’ve been in business for 13 years working with all different kinds of companies the fact we still do work with manufacturers and other industries. But one of the local businesses there happened to be an independent commercial laundry and just engaged us for our typical strategy development and execution services and we were very helpful to them developed a really great relationship, and they kind of got us into meeting other people in the industry getting involved in these groups TRSA and CSC. So it just grew organically so started with one client and grew into quite a few now.
Emily Novotny: So what benefits have you seen personally for the independent laundering companies or just the laundry industry as a whole? How is your strategic planning helped that?
Audrey Carmichael: One great thing about having a well-executed strategic plan is you know where you’re going and why you’re going there. Like I said, we do focus on mission quite a bit. So why that is important is you don’t start making decisions off the cuff that might lead you in a different direction. So I’ll give you like an example when you’re doing your strategic planning, and you’re creating your mission and your vision. You really have a great idea of who you are and where you’re going. So there are different choices you have to make when you’re running an organization and running a business. So either these are wrong. So for example during your strategic planning, you might choose for yourselves that you want to be like the low-cost provider that’s going to be who you are that’s going to be what’s going to drive you, or you might choose to be in your own market custom very custom and very high service. Neither of those is wrong, but you have to understand who you are. Right? So being the low-cost provider or a high service high-end custom provider leads you to make different decisions.
It’s going to help. It’s going to cause you to make different decisions about who your suppliers are, who you hire, where you focus training, what kind of policies you have, what investments you make, you know. So if you’re low cost, you’re going to really put a lot of money possibly into automation and getting your operations as lean as possible. If your high-end, high service organization, you really going to focus on the service aspect and training your service reps and making sure you are the most customer-focused organization out there.
So knowing who you are causes you to make different decisions, and that’s why a great strategic plan is really important. You will have higher employee engagement. So everybody knows what the company is about. We use the phrase that you want to work for a company that’s on a mission rather than just having a mission statement. So that way people can know, ‘hey I fit in here’. This company’s values align with my values. I want to work for a company. That’s just like this. I really feel like I fit in or they don’t, and it becomes really clear. So everybody can make the right choices of where they’re working.
Emily Novotny: So for those who have a mission statement and are looking to live up to their mission statement. What’s the best way to get ahold of you? And what can they do? What’s the first steps to get started?
Audrey Carmichael: Well, it’s probably the best place is to look at our website 6Dconsulting.com or listen at the end of the podcast, and we will have contact information.
Emily Novotny: Awesome, Audrey. Is there anything else that you would like to share that I’ve not already asked?
Audrey Carmichael: I think one thing about our methodology I touched on a bit, but I do want to re-emphasize it’s rather holistic. So it was a proven methodology. It takes the ideas from the best and brightest thought leaders and organizational development people over the last couple of decades and pulls it all together.
We pull it all together for our clients, so you don’t need to research the best way to put together a plan. You don’t necessarily need to do the research on the best way to project manage all your initiatives on and to understand your priorities. We really help you along with all of that. So I think that’s one thing I would like people to understand is we help guide you through all of it.
Emily Novotny: Well, Audrey, that was great. Thank you for all of the insight and for taking the time for the Clean and Simple Podcast.
Audrey Carmichael: Thanks, Emily.
Emily Novotny: Thanks again.
Audrey Carmichael: Thank you.
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