Great, You Saved on Executive Compensation, But to What End?

Low price is the last refuge for marketers who don’t have the patience or guts to demonstrate value for those that need it. – Seth Godin

When it comes to buying gas for your car, fertilizer for your lawn, or for that matter the price Apple pays for the copper in your iPhone, lowest price makes sense. These are the classic definition of the word commodity – something which comes from the ground and whose price rises and falls with supply and demand.

Unfortunately, we all now use the word commodity to mean much more, applying the sense of generic-ness to just about every product and service available to us. If you are marketing soap, for example, you face over 1,000 competitors on Amazon. If however you’re the marketer behind Tesla or NetJets or the Chicago Bears football team, your job is simpler. You won’t sell as much, but your product is so highly differentiated that when your customer wants you, there’s no close substitute. You are not a commodity. You are unique.

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How a New Platform is Revolutionizing Dispute Resolution (And Will Forever Change Your Contracts)

Many company owners and board members are familiar with some aspect of litigation – or at least the threat of it. The paperwork, the Zoom calls, the meetings, hearings, depositions, the back and forth, the cost—democracy might promise a jury of our peers and having your day in court, but adjudicating a dispute the traditional route is for many, impractical, long, and expensive.

Shutdowns during the pandemic made that point all the more clear. Since the start of COVID-19, the volume of disputes has increased by more than 65% for companies over $1 billion, 50% of in-house legal teams are being pressured to spend less, and 75% of corporations want new preventative dispute mitigation procedures.

“The first question is never, ‘What is every single thing we can fight about?’  The first question out of any executive’s mouth is always, ‘This is a distraction—how quickly can we get this done and behind us?’ says attorney Rich Lee, whose 15 years in the field include general counsel roles at Livevol and Civis Analytics, a data science company stemming from Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. “Nobody, when you’re on the business side, ever relishes that dragged-out fight in any form.”

That’s why Lee teamed up with two fellow general counsels and a legal operations exec to form New Era ADR, a private arbitration and mediation platform rooted in efficiency, transparency, experience, and innovation. He says their process is 90% faster and up to 90% cheaper.

“Anytime there’s a potential dispute, it’s a massive distraction,” Lee says. “It costs the company a lot of money, a lot of time, and frankly, I think the worst part that’s immeasurable is that attention that you end up devoting to navigating a potential dispute. You could be in a sales meeting and you’ll be thinking about that dispute. It’s our firm belief that it just doesn’t have to be that way.”

We spoke with the New Era CEO and co-founder about the intricacies of arbitration vs. mediation, how to de-risk your transactions, and the best ways to protect yourself from arbitrary outcomes.

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Supporting Your Team Through Tumultuous Times

When teams struggle, it affects their productivity and the company’s bottom line. As part of a research team that evaluated the effects of another “Black Swan” event, Hurricane Katrina, I can draw direct inferences from those effects to the impact of COVID-19 and the time that it will take teams to recover.

We know how important this issue is because we hear the refrain from business owners and executives every day: You’re exhausted. Your teams are exhausted. And you worry that there’s far more under the surface, things your teams are experiencing  that they’re  just not talking about.

Chances are, you’re right.

Do you know whether your team might be experiencing these effects?

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Why Project Management Fails and 10 Ways a CEO Can Fix It

Despite a plethora of project management software tools and project management certification programs and project management training, protocols and methodologies, there is not always project management success. Schedules slip, costs balloon, plans derail.

Cynical observers of the project management process suggest these stages of a project:

  • Euphoria
  • Disillusionment
  • Panic
  • Search for the guilty
  • Punishment of the innocent
  • Reward for the non-participants

Or so says William (Bill) Mince, InterimExecs RED Team member and Chief Operating Officer at iMedrix, the California-based maker of a mobile clinical-grade ECG device that connects to remote physicians in real time. Since his first job at 3M in the 70s, Mince has built a career focused on project management.

His passion is trying to improve the project management process across organizations. He’s even writing a book about it. Project Leadership: An Executive Handbook for Project Management Success is to be published in the fall of 2021.

He offers these 10 steps CEOs can take to help ensure the success of project management in their organizations.

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Navigating a Family Business Through the Generations

Growing up with sisters, I longed for a brother. No such luck.

But when I got into the world, I got close to my cousins Keith and Craig Landy, and they became as close as brothers to me. The bonus with my Landy brothers was that they were growing a fascinating family-owned business, Germfree Labs, that I got to watch, and eventually help strategize over.

Germfree is a world leader in manufacturing glass and steel enclosures that contain biological, chemical, and nuclear stuff – think of the most toxic or nasty substances, and Germfree’s the go-to supplier, serving the US Army, NIH, thousands of commercial, government, and hospital customers with products ranging from small gloveboxes you stick your hands in, to fully mobile labs transportable anywhere in the world.

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The 6 Biggest Mistakes Companies Make

“Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan” is a quote commonly attributed to John Kennedy as he accepted responsibility for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The idea, however, is an old one. Roman historian and politician Tacitus said that, “This is an unfair thing about war: victory is claimed by all, failure to one alone.”

When things are going well, it’s easy to share credit as a team. When things go sideways, buck-passing and finger-pointing rule the day. Success has many fathers, but for companies, so does failure. The thing about business is that it is always about the people, the process, and systems already in place. And those can fail over time, even at the most successful organizations. Errors, however, can actually help a business move forward – if the problem is identified and fixed. It’s how the owner and management team respond to those mistakes, misses, omissions — or even complacency — that can make all the difference.

InterimExecs surveyed interim leaders from around the world for our 2020 Interim Executives Survey. In addition to asking executives about who’s hiring them and the roles they’re taking on, we asked executives for insights into “The Biggest Mistakes Companies Make.” While their responses varied, clear themes emerged in the areas of leadership, operations, human capital, strategy, financials, and change initiatives. Focusing on these fundamentals is a good starting point for any struggling business.

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What are the Benefits of Interim Managers?

The only certainty in business is change. But change is accelerating, less predictable, and increasingly, beyond the control of organizations. As technology and unforeseen events continue to drive exponential change, businesses that can’t keep up risk being left behind.

Companies struggling to generate growth and stay relevant amid rapid transformation often look to new leadership. A growing number of companies are also looking to a different kind of leader—one who specializes in change and embraces the challenge of helping companies solve their biggest issues. Enter the interim executive, a new breed of on-demand leadership that brings outside perspective, cutting-edge thinking, veteran experience, and a laser focus on results.

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The Leaders Response to COVID-19: Confidence in the Face of Fear

Anxiety is in abundance this Friday the 13th. We write from our mostly empty office building where both cautiousness and outright fear from COVID-19 seem to be in full effect.

Stock markets worldwide have become nonstop rollercoasters, now mostly plummeting downhill. Grocery stores are packed as people stock up on supplies. Panic seems to be at the root of many news articles and communications. As an owner, investor, or member of the management team it can be difficult to navigate the chaos to determine what this means for the future of your company and employees.

As owners and leaders it’s our obligation to step up during crisis –  to be a light to those around us. This is at the heart of what we do. InterimExecs RED Team – an elite team of executive change agents — often run straight into the fire, doing what is necessary to listen, diagnose, set plans and execute. The successful leader must be the calm in the midst of the storm – a point of stabilization for the team and a trusted partner for those around them. So how should we react to the events around us?

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V.U.C.A. Helps Companies Deal with Dynamic, Shifting and Challenging Situations

Our world, our universe is characterized by constant change. Stars are born and die, storms transform the landscape, nations rise and fall, people change over time. In the business world economies grow and collapse, business models evolve, industries transform and even the Top 100 list of leading companies completely changes in a matter of a few years.

But sometimes the speed and scope of change is extremely rapid, its consequences unforeseeable and unpredictable. This makes planning and decision making highly risky because it is so difficult to see what the future holds. “Everybody has a plan,” said championship boxer Mike Tyson, “until they get punched in the face.”

To help explain the often sudden, fluid, rapidly evolving and dynamic forces of change – that “punch in the face” — the U.S. Army War College created the term V.U.C.A. to describe and ultimately deal with highly dynamic, shifting and challenging situations.

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Warfare at the Top: CEO vs Chairperson Battle Royale

We just experienced possibly the largest wave of CEO departures in recent history. Was it due to falling profits? Poor succession planning? Or is there more drama behind the scenes? Think firings, hurt egos, politics, and personal infighting. Author Isabelle Nüssli uncovers one of the big reasons for turmoil at the top ― the fractious relationships between egos at the executive level, particularly between CEO and chairperson. Hence the brilliant title of her new book, Cockfighting: Solving the Mystery of Unconscious Sabotage at the Top of the Corporate Pyramid.

“When you read the news, usually the reason [given for the CEO leaving] was strategy misalignment or different leadership style or different chemistry, etc. But the story that is not put out to the public is that there was a relational conflict, which apparently is the case most of the time,” says Nüssli.

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