Key Elements for INDISPENSABLE BUSINESS | James M. Kerr | TBCY

Key Elements for INDISPENSABLE BUSINESS | James M. Kerr | TBCY

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Welcome to another episode  of The Brand Called You,   a vodcast and podcast show that brings  you leadership lessons, knowledge,   experience and wisdom from hundreds of successful  individuals from around the world. I'm your host,   Ashutosh Garg and today I'm delighted to welcome  a very, very accomplished individual from the US,   Mr. James M Kerr. James, welcome to the show. Ashutosh it's so good to be with  you today. Thanks for having me. Thank you. James is the founder of Indispensable Consulting.   And he's an author. And I've often  said I'm very partial to authors.  

So James is an author of six books, his latest  one being Indispensable Build and Lead a Company   Customers Can't Live Without. So James let's  start with talking about indispensable consulting.   Tell me about the work you do. Well, you know what it is, we've been   consulting for over 30 years. And I hate to admit  that. We do strategy work, we do vision work, we   do culture work. We're focused on helping senior  leadership teams make the changes that they want   to make in their organisations. And I do a fair  amount of coaching too. So that's the fun part.

Terrific. And I can see a book just  behind me. And I love your bar, which   in front of it, you're sitting, but you want to have a drink one day. I should be in New York in summer, so certainly  look forward to that. Excellent. James,   tell me what was the thinking  behind the name Indispensable? Well, you know what, the reality  of it all is the indispensable   means it's something you can't live without. And  

we changed the name to Indispensable Consulting,  when I thought about writing a book about   indispensability. And we just thought, you know,  why not make that foot of brand connection.   But it really is a great word  to kind of brand around, because   every business that you work with wants to  be that business that their customers can't   live without. So that's what the books about,  that's what my consulting practice is about. So   it just made sense to tie the two together. Fascinating. And you know, when I was reading   about you, you mentioned that you support inspired  leaders to achieve their vision for the future.   Help me understand this with maybe  some examples or anecdotes. Sure, you know, yeah, definitely, you know, that  the idea that we've got is, you can craft a vision   statement. And if you do, you'll sound like every  other business in your industry, so rather than  

falling into that trap, why not craft your vision,  as a story that's compelling. It's engaging,   where your people can see themselves being really  successful by helping you achieve that vision. So   as a consequence, we have basically said, when  we do vision and strategy work, we start with a   vision story, I can share a couple stories  with you in the audience, if you like. Yeah, I would love that. Sure. You know, we were working with   a client recently, and we decided to get  the story developed. It was written in about  

15 pages at this really, really, I think, fine  explanation of where the business was going. It   contained all kinds of details about not only the  goals and objectives, but what it was really like   to work inside that business. Talked about the  people that were there, talked about the tools   they use, talked about how they interact with  them among themselves and with their customers.   And we decided, in order to institutionalise  it, we take the 15 pages, create a magazine,   and then distribute the magazine through the mail.   So that each employee would get a copy  of this thing coming to their home   that describes the vision for the company  that they work for. And it worked really well  

because people didn't expect it. They were really  surprised when it was received. There was a little   cover letter that we included saying, you know, we  strongly recommend that you read this and it was a   smash hit there because people saw something that  was kind of cool and different and it wasn't just   a presentation. So some of what we  do when we talk about vision storytelling. Fascinating. And you also talk about your the  multifaceted change initiatives that you have   worked on, centred on strategic plans, culture,  redesign and organisational effectiveness.  

Help me understand what you do. Yeah, so typically, when we're doing a change,   a piece of change work, we'll start with that  story with that vision, what we are trying to   achieve? What will the place look like once  we're done with implementing the changes? So   that's sort of the vision strategy piece, we  translate the gaps between where the businesses   at the moment we start and where they want  to go as per their vision, into projects   and programmes. And then those projects and  programmes get executed over the course of time.   And those changes are achieved, and the vision  is achieved, and so on. So the multi faceted  

part of it is you've got a vision, you've got  a plan, and then you've got a bunch of projects   that you staff and find an execute in order  to drive the changes that you need to make. Okay. And would you be able to explain  this with maybe an another example? Sure. So let's use that same one  that we started with a moment ago,   the vision story called for a series of cultural  changes, the client that I was working with,   came from a very rigid, top down, sort of a  command and control organisation structure.   So one of the projects that we identified was  something about flattening the organisation a bit,   and changing the way people report and to  supervisors and so on. So the very next project  

that we did was focused on organisation design.  And then the organisational design was flattered,   there were less levels of managers, managing  managers and so on. And we were able to empower   workforce, and so on, which were all elements  of the vision story, so there was a difference   between saying it and doing it. And then the  work design project was one of the ways that we   showed that we were actually going to do something  with this vision story that we crafted. Fantastic. So you want to  do a lot of work on culture.   I wanted to ask you first to help us understand,  how do you define or look at culture? This is a great question. And it's one that  I get quite a bit. Because I think people  

ordinarily put a lot of, you know, emphasis on  the word, and they get kind of confused.   And they think of it as this big, heavy, you know,  complex thing. But when you cut away all of   that sort of noise around the word, and you really  think about what is it mean? All it means is,   it's the way people behave. So think of  culture, any culture, a culture of a country,  

you know, what's the culture of the  country, it's the way that people who   live in that country behave. And same is true with  the business, the culture, company culture is really   how those people operate inside the business. So  culture change is about helping those businesses   change the way their people operate, the  way those people behave with each other,   and with your customers. And you know,   you're also a strategy guru. So I want to  ask you, how does culture impact strategy? I kind of view it the other way around, I think  we've got to start really with strategy and   vision. And then align culture and organisation  around that. So the important part is the  

alignment, if your strategy is to go out, and  let's say grow your business through impeccable   service delivery, we've got to make sure you've  got a culture and an organisational design   that lets your people deliver that impeccable  customer service. And that requires sometimes   a change in the way people behave. And  that's where culture change might be part of   a strategy that's about competing on service. So my next question, again, on culture, is that,  

you know, when you look at very large  corporations, they have, over the years,   established a strong culture. And I love the  definition you gave, it's the way people behave,   how do these large companies continue to   transfer that strong culture to new  recruits or new members of the team? Sure, you know what? And it's true, even at  a country level, right? It's the same   thing. So culture gets passed down from generation  to generation, through the stories we tell,   through the way we operate, through the decisions  we make to the places where we place value,   and so on. So, so sure they get passed down by,  you know, to new recruits, by the people that have   worked within those cultures for a while.  And you can change it by engaging people   in the conversation around, you know, what are we  trying to achieve as a business? How do we want   our business to  operate? How do we want to act with each other?   How do we want to treat our customers and other  stakeholders, and you start sort of getting that   input. And then you see there are opportunities  for improvement, there are opportunities to   change. And that's what you really want to  capture in a culture of change initiative is other  

people's ideas about what's necessary in order  to help the business get where it wants to go. Interesting. And a question that I'm  often asked is that in today's world,   of startups, with almost every country,  encouraging more and more startups, how   does a startup founder or a startup entrepreneur,  build a strong culture in their own company? Well, again, I would offer that startup team  needs to be thinking very deliberately, about   what kind of culture they want to create. Because  when they're starting out, it's going to default,   if you don't do it deliberately. Meaning  that it is that startup team of people,   however they operate, whatever values they place,  where is going to determine what the culture will be for anybody that they bring in, to  support them. If you're deliberate, you can create  

that team based culture that high performance,  culture, etc. But I do believe it's something   that you've got to do with your eyes wide open,  and with a very clear vision for how   you want your culture to actually operate. So you know, I was approached by a startup   entrepreneur once and said that, you know, I  want to build a strong culture. And I asked   him a question. I said, I'm working on the  assumption that everything that you want to   implement in your company as a part of your  culture applies to you as well. And he says,   No, it doesn't. I mean, I'm the founder.  I'd love to get your perspective on that.

Yeah, you know, yeah, it's not something  that those people over there do.   You know, we're all as leaders, we're  all part of that culture. And we are   models that people are watching all the time. And  I often counsel my clients, particularly the top   leadership teams that I work with, to realise  that it's not what you say, it's what you do.   So if you say that, you know, you want to have a  lot of strong communication up and down the line,   you know, top to bottom in your organisation, yet  every time you're in the office, the door is shut,   while there's an executive assistant, that's the  gatekeeper. So nobody can go and talk with you   except going through them, then you're actually  not living what you're saying. And people will  

realise communication is not that important.  Because look, the door's closed. You know,   I tried to get an appointment, and I can't see  the person for three months. So, that kind of   thing is really important to recognise this a top  leader, people are watching what you're doing,   they're watching your feet. They're watching your  feet. They're not listening so much to the words,  

because words are kind of inexpensive and don't  necessarily mean much, unless they're followed   up by action that they can be observed. Well said. So, you know, I'm going to ask   a few questions to you about coaching,  as you said, you are a coach as well.   Tell me about what is your  approach to coaching? You know, it starts out sort of baselining with  the person, you know, where are they today on   their journey, as a leader, and I asked them  a bunch of questions about things that they   are doing things they think they do well, we  have some assessments that we have them do   to help get a clearer picture of  what's important to the individual.   And then we do a 360 with some of the colleagues  that that person works with, and we tried to   get a good cross cut. We want to see what it's  like to work for this person, with this person,  

and have this person work for us. And what's  astounding is sometimes that self reflection   is not what we're seeing. When we talk to  people that they work with, I have a woman that I'm working with right now that,  you know, believes that she's well respected by   her team and that her boss loves her and all that.  But when we dug a little deeper, what we saw was,   this was a person that sort of kissed up,  but kicked down. So the boss did like her,  

she was always very positive, and yes, and  agreeable and all that. But her people really   didn't like working for it, because they felt like  they weren't treated well. And with much respect.   So then that became a theme that we centred the  coaching around, to be able to help her kind of,   really gain the patience that she needed to listen  a little more to her people, to help develop them   a little bit more, and build a team that she  really wants to have to be the leader of. Okay. And I've got time for one more question  on coaching before I move to your book.  

This is the world of the millennials and the Gen  z's, we're beginning to see leaders coming up at   mid level, senior levels, I have two  related questions for you. One is   how are organisations preparing to receive a very,  very different generation of thinkers and leaders   from the millennials and Gen z's. And what  kind of coaching should be provided to them? You know, I would offer this I think that  every generation has great strengths and   opportunities to really shape the future of  the places where they interact, whether that's,   you know, in a business or in their homes and communities, and society in general,   right. And what we've got to do is not be quite  so judgmental about all those millennials,   they're this fill in the blank, whatever thing  you want to do, and rather so to look at the   positive side and see the energy and inspiration  in someone and try to leverage that as a means of   making those leaders better. And I do work with  a fair amount of what's known as high potentials,  

right? These are people that have maybe some  lower level supervisory responsibilities,   or they may be in middle management somewhere.  But somebody, sort of above them, if you will,   has identified them as someone with the potential  to one day be in the C suite. And they asked   me to work with these people to help develop  them so that when those opportunities arise,   they'll be ready to step in. And what I find  in working with these folks is that, you know,   a lot of the stereotypes found simply aren't true,  you know, one of the stereotypes of   the group is all they're, they'll get  bored, and they'll want to move around. And,  

you know, we can't invest in them, because  they're going to leave for another opportunity.   That's not been the experience, at least  not in the folks that I'm working with. And I agree with you completely, completely agree.  So James, let's talk about your book now.  

Tell me about INDISPENSABLE: Build and Lead A Company Customers Can’t Live Without,   first tell me whether this book is available on  Amazon for my viewers and listeners? And then tell   me what was the hypothesis of your book? Yeah.   Yes, the books available on Amazon, and other  places online, where you like to buy books.   The thesis is really simple. I'm working  with some really great businesses over the years,   I realised I had a formula that every  one of the most successful of my clients have.   And I felt like gee, maybe that formulates  the difference. That's the difference between  

a business it's good and a business. That's  incredible. That's actually indispensable. And that became the  thesis of the book. And it's,   you know, includes things around  leadership and vision, people management   and how to attract and retain great talent. It's  into culture, it gets into change management,   how you want to be able to do those things in  a very consistent way. And be again, those are  

deliberate. There's that word again, but be  deliberate in the way that you drive change,   and so on. So it worked. It was those elements  that sort of made up the premise of the book,   and then I fortify that with Over 50 examples from  industry, many of them coming from my own practice   that shows how businesses embraced these  concepts and actually went about the work of   instituting them within their operations. And when did you release this book? Yeah, great question. The book came out in  February of this year. So it's sort of fresh off the presses,  if you will, was well received,   and moved up to the Amazon hotlist with when  it was released. So very proud of that.  

And, yeah, it's been a good ride  with this. But this is book number six for me.   I'm actually in the  middle of writing book number seven.   And this one will be focused on coaching. Oh, wonderful. So I got time for one more   question. And I want to understand from you  about your earlier five books, tell me about  

what the subjects were? The first couple of books were on technology.   So I wrote, I wrote one book, my very  first book was called the IRM. imperative.   And I won't bore you with all five of the previous  books. But that first one was important in   that, it identified the strength that a book  can have in shaping someone's career, because it   came out early, I wasn't even 30 yet.  And I had a book that basically, the premise   of it was, information is an asset that should be  managed. And in fact, we should manage it so well,   that we could actually put it on a balance  sheet that we could put some value to our data,   and actually say, it was something that was an  asset that could be leveraged. That concept is  

still around today. And now we've got all kinds of  technologies and so on big data, data warehousing   and data analytics, and digitalization and all  that stuff. But that was a concept that I   helped to sort of develop. And I got really good  response back when that book came out. And   it launched my consulting because I had so  many phone calls about how do we do this?   What can we do, I realised I could actually  start a consulting firm helping businesses   do a better job and their data strategies. And  that's how my business started. So I have time for one more question  and given the fact that you are a strategy   guru, you can solve, you speak about  culture, you are a coach, you are an author.  

For all the young viewers and listeners,  what would your advice be to young   individuals starting off on their  career in the corporate world?   I would say learn about an  embrace an abundance mindset.   There's plenty for everyone. Don't operate from  this place of scarcity. We've got a you know,   keep your secrets and hide your stuff and keep  the clip. Now share it, share what you know,   how people on the way. What you'll find  when you think about the world as being about  

abundance, is you'll realise that all the things  that you want for your own life come to you.   So that would be my advice to a young person. I love your comment on work from a position of   abundance rather than scarcity. I think that's an  amazing piece of advice you've given. But on that   note, James, thank you so much. It's been such a  privilege speaking to you. Thank you for talking   to me about consulting, about indispensable  consulting. Thank you for talking to me about  

culture, about coaching, and most importantly,  telling us so much more about your book.   Thank you again, good luck. Thank you, Ashutosh. The pleasure was   all mine. Really appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you for listening to The Brand Called You,  videocast and podcast. A platform that brings you   knowledge, experience and wisdom of hundreds of  successful individuals from around the world.   Do visit our website, to watch and  listen to the stories of many more individuals.   You can also follow us on YouTube,  Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Just   search for The Brand Called You.

2022-01-11 20:23

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