A free monthly newsletter on growth, market expansion and profit

Vol 1 No. 3

January/February 2014

In This Issue

Living With Strategic Tension

Thought From James

The Profitable Growth Race

Special Offer


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Catalyst for Action

A sequence of videos providing insight, tips and techniques to dramatically raise individual and organisational performance

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Unprecedented Business Growth Podcast Series

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Welcome to the latest The Race For High Growth Newsletter. Our mission is to help you make wise decisions about identifying and quickly instigating profitable investments in high growth markets and to build a prosperous business. The format is set up to enable you to rapidly apply and adjust the ideas to your own business. As I encourage all my clients, we learn best by doing, not over-thinking a concept or excessive procrastination. Feel free to ask questions and I will happily answer them if your reference TRFHG.

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Each week you will find 5-6 pieces of advice for profitable growth personally and professionally. Join the thousands who read these "quick hits" every morning.

Internal Collaboration "Scaffolding"

In an earlier part of my career, I was assigned from my London business unit to help the EVP of the New Jersey Branch Office rapidly increase the volume of high quality business leads and the conversion of those leads into closed business. The intent was that by "loaning" me, I would be a catalyst for increasing the number of collaborative opportunities between the two offices, the sharing of expertise and the mutual growth of both business units.

After a preliminary discussion over lunch in Chicago with the soon-to-be new boss, we kicked off the assignment. Two weeks in, he was positive, demonstrably willing to invest in (travel) and create an environment (support resources) to allow me to flourish. I built credibility and increasing trust with 12 or so high potential buyers for both offices expertise, and set about converting that interest into "signed" contracts.

After two months, we sat down over dinner to discuss progress. The first 45 minutes was a monologue from him about the skills and behavioural shortcomings of his own people, the lack of respect shown in the past by my London colleagues and whose best interests were being served by my work. In response to my simple question, "what do you want me to do about it?" He stated, "From now on I want you to produce business for me. We need to markedly improve our own bottom line, forget all that collaborative nonsense." We agreed to re-position my value proposition around the needs of clients he was passionate about doing business with and making the appropriate connections.

A week or two later, my London boss, arrived in New York for dinner, and inquired whether I was having fun and more importantly, what if any collaborative opportunities were in the pipeline. I explained my predicament. He agreed to speak to the US CEO and my New Jersey boss. In the intervening days and weeks, I would bat away profitable growth opportunities that didn't fit my boss's agenda but would have been a good fit for both offices collective competencies. My New Jersey boss became more strident.

Little surprise then that the volume and quality of leads fitting the narrower competencies of the New Jersey office dramatically reduced and the perceptions about my value and contribution to the bottom line turned more negative. My own passion for the job and work shifted towards where else, back in London or in our US competitors could I find a more gratifying role?

My tale is an all too common outcome of cross-border internal alliances in professional services and advisory businesses that start with the best of strategic intentions but unravel in the implementation.

Drawing from my practical experiences and observations of others at fine companies such as Marsh, Clifford Chance, KPMG and WPP, here is the "scaffolding" for a successful collaborative growth initiative. The "champion" and person(s) whose approval and budget is required to support the assignment, must answer "Yes" to each BEFORE putting troops on the ground or investing a penny or a dime:

  1. Each of our key constituents (customers, shareholders, employees, business units) demonstrably see their best interests (personal and professional) served in meeting or exceeding the stated business goals underlying the potential collaboration.
  2. I know explicitly what I want to see, feel, hear and experience from a successful collaboration beyond financial results.
  3. I have identified the changes in the "operating beliefs" held by mid-level managers and frontline staff that are required to successfully launch the collaboration.
  4. I have a high-level of clarity about the obstacles (cross-border reward systems, accounting, recognition, self-interest etc) that must be overcome or circumvented to enable those desired behaviours.
  5. I have the "right" avatars (leaders), tools (technology), support (people), reward (financial incentives) and recognition (non-monetary) to help those managers and frontline people produce results and reward results?
  6. I have clear accountabilities for the "right" behaviours and the results that arise from those behaviours throughout the organisation?
  7. I have a simple, quick, effective approach to regularly monitor, evaluate and provide constructive feedback, quarterly or half yearly, to those frontline individuals and their direct reports.

Please look out for a future post on my blog Market-Leading Growth with greater detail, a powerful process visual and a podcast illustrating how to maximise the potential of internal alliances.

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Thought From James

Internal collaborations have a personal investment, which is often overlooked. There is the global or regional executive with their repute, power, and reward prospects on the line. There are mid-level managers with personal and financial skin in the game. There are frontline people like myself, whose careers, gratification and personal happiness are on the line. Top management must create the correct "scaffolding" able to withstand the reasonable demands of customers, shareholders, peers and employees for short- and long-term results. The simple fact is that most businesses need internal alliances to work. Most clients need a range of skills and experiences that are rarely found in a single function or business unit. The profitable growth of most businesses, particularly those doing business globally, depends on successful internal alliances.

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The Profitable Growth Race

"It is the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed" - Charles Darwin

Opportunities for internal and external collaboration abound in mid to large size organisations whether cross-functions, cross product or service lines, cross-client groups, cross-industry segments and cross-borders. Indeed the transference of knowledge is critical to innovation and profitable growth. However that assumes that people within the business have taken the time to build trusting peer level relationships with each other, and the organisation provides frequent peer interaction and dynamic learning opportunities.

  • Who do you need to know and spend time with in order to valuably contribute to the profitable growth of the firm?
  • What do they read? Who do they listen to? Where do they hang out? Who do they see as their peers?

At the end of each month, ask yourself and answer these questions. Create a weekly routine to meet 2 new peers whose wisdom you can tap into in-person over coffee, a few minutes between meetings or drinks after work. Ditch anyone, who ceases to be relevant. If only 50% of those new faces are immediately helpful, in 3 months you will have 13 peer level relationships to learn from and bring a blast of fresh air to the initiatives you are working on. You will increasingly be seen as an object of interest to others and more valuable to your peers and direct reports.

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Special Offer: The Profitable Growth Hour

For the first 12 recipients via email to me at james@elliceconsulting.com

Every business must create new offerings, new standards, new value to convey to their best clients, new ways to compete and new ways to attract more valuable customers. On a country walk last weekend, I decided to extend to 12 members of my professional community, 60 minutes of my "free" time to annoy, provoke and stimulate their own thinking. Such that they leave with a list of high priorities, quick ways to address each, clear accountabilities and start generating powerful results. We meet in-person in my office or we talk via phone or Skype at a mutually-convenient time and date.

The offer is open until 28th February, although I expect it to disappear in hours, not days. It is being made through all my media platforms. The discussion must be scheduled no later than 15th March, 2014.

In lieu of my valuable time and the impressive results that you will walk away with, I ask that you make a modest donation to a local cancer charity (£15/US$25 recommended) on the honour system.

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