Friday, July 3, 2009

One More SWOT Under the Belt

I was blessed this week to spend a couple days with Russ and the team of RJB as we performed a SWOT here in Philly. Russ is part of HTG14 and had requested some outside eyes to take a look at where his company is and help provide some guidance on where they should tweak a bit. Joining me were Michael Cocanower (HTG2) and Chris Chirgwin (HTG14). We arrived on Tuesday evening and started bright and early on Wednesday. The entire day was spent with Russ, his strong management team, and his staff at large. We met in small groups, large groups and one on one. As SWOT participants we turned over the rocks, looked in the closets and dug around all aspects of his business. As is always the case, we uncovered a few things that were news to everyone, but most of our findings were known or at least suspected. We ended a very long day with a great sandwich at Pat's King of Steaks where we got cheese steak "wit" and added some American cheese.

Day two we turned the tables and the management team at RJB grilled Chris, Michael and me for almost three hours with questions they had. The theme for this visit was growth and how to prepare for it - what things need to be put in place to allow the business to scale. Later in the day we presented our finding to the management team and then the entire company. We left them with some pretty large shifts in how they currently do things, and a task list that should keep them focused for the next months at a minimum. But the story doesn't end here. We also set up accountabilty for all to make sure that things really do change. It is so hard to stay focused on the transition when human nature pulls us to return to our comfort zone or past way of doing things. We aren't going to let Russ do that, nor his team for that matter.

One of the questions I answered over and over is why we do this. The answer is quite simple. Everyone who participates in the HTG SWOT process wants to make a difference. And the best way to do that is to give back. We all have warts and issues that we know exist in our businesses. So the fact that people need help is no mystery. But when owners give their time to help another, they learn more than the company being visited in most cases. I am sure that Chris and Michael would say that is true here. RJB was the focus, but the three of us all were talking to ourselves often as we gave suggestions and counsel to the team here, and we all have a list of things to go home and work on in our own company.

Expect to see some great things from the RJB team in the days ahead. It won't be because of our SWOT, but because of the focus and teamwork they will put together to make their company even greater. We may have played a small part in helping them realize just how well positioned they are to succeed, but the hard work will be done by Russ and the team and we will be watching and smiling and looking back saying I remember when.......

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