Lately, I spend a great deal of time meeting with amazing people in the print industry just talking about our organization. Over the last six years, I’ve identified a trend to these meetings. It usually starts with a meeting or call request with no real subject or goal. I happily take the meeting because I am extremely passionate about the industry, our organization and helping others. The meeting starts with the standard sharing of histories and backgrounds and then usually quickly goes to some form of the same question:
What the hell are you guys doing and why are you in the print industry?
It’s pretty well known that I’m not from the industry. My team bought two commercial printers out of bankruptcy in 2010. I have spent the last six years building our group of brands. This has been a competitive advantage for us, as I have no commitment to the glory days or the old ways of print. I look at everything through a lens of ignorance.
Throughout this process, I’ve recognized 4 areas most printers struggle with when making the transition from the way the industry was, to today’s rapidly changing marketing supply chain. Before I share those I need you to commit to two distinctions:
- It has nothing to do with print.
- You are no longer a manufacturer; you’re a service organization.
Here’s the deal. You know more about print than I ever will and if your business is still alive, you know print. Congrats. The bigger issue facing your business is not about printing. It’s about your ability to make the shift to today’s service economy. This goes beyond calling yourself a MSP, PSP, LMNOP or whatever other acronym the industry feeds itself to only change nothing in your vision or culture, and wait for the business to start growing again like it did, “back in the old days” or “before the economy crashed”. If you can commit to these two distinctions, here are the 4 areas of focus we used to build our culture and make our shift.
What is the vision or mission for your organization? What is your why? Don’t know what I am talking about? Check out this TED talk from Simon Sinek to learn why this is important. If you don’t understand why your organization exists, you can’t communicate your vision. A lack of clarity in vision creates confusion, mediocrity, and frustration for both your clients and team. At the CPG family of brands our mission is to redefine print by challenging the impossible. Our mission is built on our vision of solving problems our clients once thought couldn’t be solved utilizing talent, technology and service.
What is your vision?
Once you have a vision, you must have alignment. My coach and friend, Travis has a saying that is at the core of our leadership strategy. It’s a simple saying, but it’s impact is immeasurable; agreement is overrated and alignment is underrated. A great foundation for learning why this principle is so important is Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team.
The concept is pretty simple. Once you define your vision, you have a foundation for decision making. As you share your vision with your team the goal is to create alignment around that vision. They may challenge or disagree with your version of the vision. This is a good thing. Don’t stifle the debate and don’t feel you have to convince them to agree. Just hear them out and reach alignment. The true sign of an organizational culture is a leadership team aligned around a common vision so clear and strong that they are willing to make hiring and firing decisions based on that vision. Would you fire someone who may be a great producer but isn’t aligned around your vision? If not, you may have a vision but you do not have a culture.
I won’t dwell on this one too much as I have an entire post dedicated to this subject. Check it out here. This is my true passion. If I’m pressed to give one reason for our success over the last 6 years, I’d say it’s my passion and commitment around developing the next generation of print talent. I’m so passionate about this, I think it’s the biggest threat to the future of the industry. You’ve created a vision and you’ve achieved alignment. Now go build a strategy to identify, recruit and develop the talent that can scale the vision beyond you.
You have a vision, your team is aligned and you’ve created a talent strategy. Now, how many of you have experienced a new initiative that was designed, announced, launched and then just kind of disappeared after a couple weeks or a month? We all have. That is the result of a lack of accountability. How are you going to know whether you are executing your vision or not? You have to identify some key performance indicators both internally and externally that are aligned with your vision. Once you identify these KPI’s, you have to hold the team accountable.
Bonus Tip: Want an accountability tool that will truly let you know if your culture is aligned with your vision from the ultimate judge? Familiarize yourself with the Net Promoter Score.
I hope I’ve made you think and sparked action to truly redefine your organization through a unique vision and culture. Just calling yourself a MSP will do nothing for your organization. Your clients have to recognize value through a unique vision and offering that is aligned and supported by a culture. In short, you have to walk the walk, and talk the talk.
Thank you for following me and please check out my social channels for more and as always, let me know if I can do anything for you.