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Damon Pistulka, Ron Higgs
Damon Pistulka 00:05
All right, everyone, welcome once again to the faces of business. I’m your host, Damon Pistulka. With me today we have Ron Hague’s from wealth management solutions, and we are going to be talking about reducing business growth challenges. Ron, awesome to have you here today.
Ron Higgs 00:25
It is great to be here. Thank you for having me.
Damon Pistulka 00:28
Yeah, we’re gonna have some fun here. So, you know, Ron, as we always do with our guests, I think the first thing we’re going to start out doing is tell us a little bit about your background, Ron, and kind of catch us up to what you’re doing today.
Ron Higgs 00:43
Well, I have a long sordid story, as you know, right. So yeah,
Damon Pistulka 00:46
it’s awesome to tell it. That’s why I want to tell it. It’s good.
Ron Higgs 00:51
Yeah. Well, I started my career in the Navy, I went to the Naval Academy went to flight school after that, flew airplanes in the Navy went into what we call program management and acquisition where I worked with defense contractors on future Navy programs related the naval aviation, and I also worked on a satellite system. After I was all done in the Navy couldn’t really decide what I wanted to do. So I did a few things, including some consulting mostly in the aerospace and defense industry. I worked in sales and business development for a large defense contractor, I worked.
I worked in flight operations for even larger defense contractor that builds airplanes in the Pacific Northwest, flew airplanes of those guys, and then took on some management responsibilities and decided I wanted to leave to experience some different things. So I ended up working in about four startups. All of which failed, I’m open, I’m not the common denominator and all that. And I went through a few iterations of my consulting business, but just by pure luck, and networking, I ended up as the CEO of a small company, and I like, Hey, this is my home, I found something that I really had a skills for.
I really enjoyed it. But I got that job. I started that job in January of 2020. And in April of 2020, I got laid off, so and a lot of us ran into some hard times because of the pandemic. So I rebranded my consulting business as a fractional CEO business. And I’ve been doing that set still looking for busy business owners that need help running their companies. And I’d come in and try to pull them out of the everyday running of the business, get them set up. So they’re working more in their zone of genius, and try to do that for a couple of companies at a time.
Damon Pistulka 02:55
Very good. Very good. Well, I think you went over it pretty quickly. Your background, Ron, because, first of all, you’re the only man that I know that has landed a plane on fire or had to ditch a plane that was on fire, you can tell us this, let’s hear the story about that one, because that one’s always really interesting.
Ron Higgs 03:17
Well, they’re there. They’re also details. So I have the There you go. equal number of takeoffs and landings. Okay, that’s good,
Damon Pistulka 03:25
equal number of takeoffs and landings. That’s important.
Ron Higgs 03:30
landings, but some scary moments. And I think anyone who’s been involved in naval aviation will tell you that naval aviation is probably responsible for some of the most exciting moments of their lives. Right, truly, right. It is also responsible for some of the most terrifying moments in our lives. Yeah, at the same time, so and it could be in the same day, or even on the same flight. Because I’ve gone from, wow, I can’t believe I get paid to do this to expletive. I can’t, you know, they don’t pay me enough to do this in the same day. So I did have an experience where one airplane caught on fire. And we had to put it on the ground immediately.
Damon Pistulka 04:17
Yeah. Yeah, it’s good stuff. Now you’re only you’re also the only person that I know that ever had that has ever applied for the space program. Is that true?
Ron Higgs 04:31
It is. And so my dream as a kid was to become an astronaut. And so I literally figured out the path and I went to the local library to do it, right. So I went to the local library figured out what I needed to do to become an astronaut. I Naval Academy, marks other places, but it’s like Naval Academy. Become a test pilot apply for the astronaut program. If you look at the histories and some of the astronauts Uh, yep, that’s sort of the path. And so I committed to taking that path. And I actually went to the Naval Academy graduated with the flight school, got myself in the United States Naval Test Pilot School, I ended up becoming a flight instructor at the Test Pilot School.
And from that I was able to apply to, be a mission specialist, astronaut candidate, NASA. So the Navy forwarded me forward in my name to NASA as a missing specialist, astronaut candidate. And then, when I went to my package got to NASA and I was reviewed by NASA, I ended up getting disqualified for a medical reason. So in terms of dreams as a kid who was you wanted to be an astronaut, because he spent a lot of time watching Star Trek to you know, I got as close to that goal as I possibly could. Yeah, I’m proud.
Damon Pistulka 05:49
Yeah, that’s cool. So as a test pilot, what are some of the planes you can talk about that you’re able to fly? There was?
Ron Higgs 05:57
No, I’m lucky. So if you remember, Top Gun, you know, Maverick and goose. So you know, I wasn’t able to write officer. So I was, I was goose I got to do a lot of the work while the pilots took a lot of the credit, right? So I got to fly over somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 different aircraft. So mostly when I was in Test Pilot School and a flight instructor, they’re mostly FAA teams. I flew essary Vikings in the fleet, which is a carrier based submarine, submarine Hunter, which they retired quite a few years ago. So those don’t fly anymore.
And I got to fly a, I got to fly a B 25 Bomber, which is when an evaluation exercise, which I thought was just tremendous, and I also got to fly to DC three, some of the most fun I’ve ever had was flying with the Havilland Beaver, which is, which is a tail dragger, which, you know, there’s a lot of them up in Alaska, and as you know, kidmore air fly. Yeah. And yeah, that was literally the most fun. I had just fly those airplanes, because they were just so simple. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 07:10
wow. Well, that’s something
Ron Higgs 07:13
wider so from flying and slightly work from flying with lots of noise. And, you know, basically losing my hearing, as I got older, because being around all that jet noise to be able to fly a glider was pretty interesting, because flying in silence was something that that I’ve never done.
Damon Pistulka 07:32
I bet that is quite an experience.
Ron Higgs 07:35
It is nothing but the wind rushing by it’s really cool.
Damon Pistulka 07:38
Yeah, yeah. And it always is interesting to me as to how long you can stay in the air with and if you know how to get to the right place, and ride the air foils, and your craft and everything.
Ron Higgs 07:51
And I don’t think God has ever caught on fire. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 07:54
no, that’s probably not happen. That’s a good point.
Ron Higgs 08:00
I want to tell you about this when I was going to company, you know, we had some personnel issues. And I just remember sitting across from somebody going, Oh, my goodness, this is really stressful. And they were talking about how stressful it was. I just looked at him and go, Well, you know, airplanes off aircraft carriers and landed one airplane that was on fire. So my idea of a stressful situation might be a little different than yours. Yes, yes. I was having a little trouble with my empathy there. But I’ve, you know, I’ve adjusted accordingly now.
Damon Pistulka 08:30
Yes. Well, I think that’s what I wanted to share it too. Not only the stories are interesting, it’s pretty incredible. Some of the stuff especially you growing up as a kid wanting to be an astronaut, and just going all the way until medically, you couldn’t go anymore.
And that’s super cool. But the fact is, is that the military and especially flying planes, and doing those kinds of things, really takes a systematic approach to being able to do things. I mean, you don’t take you don’t start a plane up without checking everything over. You don’t take the plane off the ground without checking even more things. You check things in the air, you check things when you land, it’s their systems and things that you need to do throughout. I’m assuming I don’t fly, but that’s correct, right?
Ron Higgs 09:17
Absolutely. And you know, the movie Top Gun and the upcoming sequel would have you believe that you would just jump into a jet fly and we come back we high five each other we play a game of volleyball and then head to the bucket. No other I don’t think any movies anywhere captures the amount of work and effort it really takes to stay current in aviation and what we have to know what we have to learn what we continually get tested on because it’s a perishable skill. I mean, I’ll give you an example.
You know, we’re up there flying around and if you see if you detect a ship out there, what kind of ship is? Is it a US ship? Was it an enemy ship? Okay, it’s an enemy ship. Okay, what kind of weapons is that enemy shouldn’t have, okay, I have to be able to identify an enemy ship. And then from memory No, it’s like, hey, that enemy ship carries a missile that has a 40 mile range.
So I need to stay about 40 miles away from that thing. Right? So there’s so much work. And if you zoom past another airplane, it’s like, hey, what kind of airplane was that? What country was it from? So you have to learn all the markings from all the different countries to learn what airplane it is, you know, what country it from? What weaponry it has on it? I mean, there’s just that’s about 1/100 Of all the things that we have to know. Yes, aviation off of a carrier is a terribly unforgiving environment. Right? So you have to follow process procedures, right? Otherwise, you know, you’ll pay the ultimate price, and the people are gonna die if you know.
Damon Pistulka 10:54
So that brings us to today and talking about reducing business growth challenges. So you got out of the military, and you started to become a fractional CFO, and, and helping people run these businesses or a CEO and the businesses. And now we’re moving and talking about startups, high growth companies. And when we look at these things, and you look at the growth challenges, are there some common threads that you see amongst these businesses that are growing rapidly? Or the challenges they’re having as they grow?
Ron Higgs 11:29
Yeah, absolutely. There are some similarities, just how you know how sometimes you think that when something’s happened to you, or you’re going through something like you’re the only one going through this, and nobody can understand what we’re going through? Well, guess what, there’s lots of companies out there, and there’s like inner stages that companies go through. So I work with a system called predictable success. And that’s just says, basically, companies go through seven stages of growth and decline, right. And it’s common, it’s it happens to small companies, it happens to single person companies, it happens to nonprofits.
And they get to this point where they run into some challenges. And there’s some specific ways to move through those challenges. But I can back up and talk about how they got there. So beginning, if you look at most companies, companies start with an idea, right. And then predictable success, we call this stage early struggle, in early struggle means that you have a product or a service that you want to sell. Now you have to go out and find a profitable and sustainable market, before whatever seed money you have runs out, right, everybody’s gonna do that.
So they find some way to start the business, whatever funding that they have, whatever source it is, in, you go out and search for someone that’s going to buy your product or service, and they have to buy it at a profit, right. And that has to be sustainable, because you can find a profitable business and you can find sustainable, but it needs to be both in order to be successful. And then you get to the point where you’re actually profitable, like, hey, we can make payroll, we could do this, we can actually have money to put into the business. We have money to save money to invest money to buy things for the business.
That’s when you reach that point where the business is self sustaining. And I think everybody goes through that. Right. And then the next age coming up is what we predictable success called Fun, which means it’s fun. You are now you’ve got clients, your client list is growing. And one of the things that you’re doing is you’re saying yes to everything. So a client says hey, can you deliver this to polled and you look at each other, you look at the client and go, yes, we can do that. I mean, you walk away from that meeting going, man, how are we going to do that?
Right, you go back, you put your heads together, and you figure something out, and you pull it off? Right in a lot of companies have those things where they said yes to things. And they had no idea what they were doing, or a little bit of an idea what they were doing, and then they pulled it off. Right? And they said yes to everything. Right. And that’s all good stuff. And I think every company has been in that stage too, right? Where everything is a whole lot of fun. And I’ll stop there. Because there’s because fun is just, it’s a great place to be right.
But as you as fun, you start to increase the number of clients and you start to increase your revenue. And I think I’ve seen it too. Sometimes you increase your revenue, and then you have to increase your resources. And you increase both at the same time. So what happens to profits? Go down a new client when you hire two more people, Hey, we got another client, we need to hire two more people. So what if you’re going here growing, right, but your profits are declining? Yeah. And then the company started to run into some issues because of the number of people that you have, because when you’re having fun, right, you’re doers and deciders are the same people.
So you’ve got a really small group, and the people are doing all the work and people were making the decisions with the same people. So you can make a quick decision. And you can implement that decision very quickly. Right? You can say, hey, let’s open up an office in Miami. And when you get to the top of the elevator ride, right, where you’re discussing this, you’re like, Yep, we’re opening an office in Miami. Right? You can do that when the doers and deciders are the same people as the company starts to grow.
The deciders are now a leadership team in the doers are much larger team. So you can not you can make decisions quickly. But you can’t implement or execute those decisions quickly at all. Because just due to the complexity of growth, now you have a leadership team, you have to communicate that decision to people and then you have to trust others to do it. Right. So things are starting to get more complex, you know, you’re starting to drop the ball just by virtue of being larger and having more people in the mix. That all makes sense so far.
Damon Pistulka 16:09
Yeah, in the end, I imagine that communication is really simple. As you’re in that funds on where people are doing and deciding and doing decide, and but do you see that as you move into that, and the teams get bigger, and there’s more leadership and doers separate? Do you see that companies struggle with a lot of the communication things that, you know, you should just know this but it’s really needs to be communicated? Or? Or what are some things that you see as they go through that transition from we’re having fun we’re doing and deciding to we have deciders and doers separate.
Ron Higgs 16:54
You’re right, there are challenges with communication. And that fear is when they move on to fun, and things start to get complex and things start to slow down. And they can’t really say yes to everything and turn on a dime anymore. You know, in predictable success. We call that stage Whitewater. And that is typically just what you said, right? I mean, we talked about companies start making mistakes. The challenge in this phase of Whitewater is that previously in fun, you were delivering consistent quality in the face of simplicity.
Thanks for simple, you didn’t have a whole lot of people. So you didn’t have to have a whole bunch of processes and everything like that. And things are things happen pretty quickly, as you start to grow, and you have 1520 25 people, right? You are now trying to deliver consistent quality in the face of complexity. Right? And that’s difficult. And communication is part of that or you communicate another issue. Yeah, is that when small companies, some of the roles tend to be defined by the capabilities of the human being in that role, right.
And so whatever the role is, the people can just do whatever it’s like, Hey, you’re the HR person, you’re, you’re this person and that person, but then, you know, as the company grows, guess where you have to start making, you have to start developing an org chart. Yeah, the word chart, once you start filling out the positions in the org chart, you now need to transition that role, those roles from the capabilities of that person in the role to what the company needs. So in other words, if a company if the title of creative director, whatever that is, right, you now have to write down for the company.
What does the creative director need to do for this company, not what the person in that job is doing now? What do they have to do to support the goals of this company. And as it turns out, you may have some people that you may have to change their roles, because they may not be capable of doing some of the things that needed to be done for that specific job. So things do start to get really hard. But the org chart is a decision making machine right, you start that right? Because then you know, you know, the org chart shows you where decisions are being made. And it clarifies the roles of everyone in the company.
Damon Pistulka 19:25
Yeah, well, I think this is probably the beginnings of as you go from startup phase into more mature business phase. And people talk about the fact that you probably won’t end with the people that you started with simply because they’re not going to be able to change with the business. And I think this is where a lot of people that do enjoy that startup doer and decider. Workplaces don’t really fit well as these businesses scale. Is that correct?
Ron Higgs 19:57
Yeah, you’re absolutely correct. So we thought talked about before, like I said, unpredictable success is the stages of business. So that whitewater stage, and then there’s a stage called predictable success after that where the company’s most scalable, which means that you’ve kind of worked through all of those issues. And now you’re a well oiled machine. And a lot of people in the company don’t make it from that white order stage to that predictable success stage. So now let’s talk about the types of people that make up those organizations. Now, you heard visionaries, right? visionaries are the people that start companies, right?
Yeah. So just like, think about disk and all these assessments who people do. So again, this is this one’s a little bit different, predictable success. We have visionaries, everybody knows what the visionary is, least I think they are, right. And then you have operators, operators are people who go out and just get stuff done. Right? You know, probably a couple of people you can call, it’s like, hey, I need this done. Because so and so because I know they’ll get it done. They are relentless finishers, they know how to get stuff done. And then there’s processors, processors are the people who put systems and processes in place.
Right? So you’ve got an organization made up of those three people, because are those three types of people? Because as the organization gets larger, you come to realize, like, man, we have to set up some systems and processes, they can’t keep making it up as we go along. Because every time I mean, you’ve been in a company like this, you’re doing the same thing, let’s say like proposals, every time you do a proposal, it’s something different, right? It’s like, Why does it feel like it’s the first time we’re doing this?
Right? Because we don’t have a good system or process and we’re making it up. So you’ve got people who do that. And all three of those people just are wired differently, right? So these are sort of consumed with starting things, visionaries, like the start stuff. Also, visionaries are the ones they want to start a lot of stuff. So the visionary comes in with a million ideas, right? Every day, right? And then operators just want to finish them, just tell me what to do. And I’ll do it right and processors for the people that sustain it. Right? Let’s sustain it, let’s systematize it and make it repeatable.
And those, those three people, or those kinds of people are kind of at odds all the time because your motivations and perceptions are different. And I’ll give you an example. In a like, if you look at the time 8am Well, the visionary says, Oh, 8am I think the bakery down the street opens at 8am, right? And the operator looks at me and says, Man, that’s two hours after I get to work, right? And then 8am the processor, that’s the exact time that the processor shows up every day, because that’s what time it says an employee handbook. Right? And so you know, you’ve got people that have those different fields, you know, they’re just wired differently.
Meeting, visionary looks at meetings as hey, here’s the place for me to just go and talk about ideas and ramble on, right? The operator is just like, why are you wasting my time with this meeting? I got worked in the processors, like what is the agenda, and they’re sitting there looking at the agenda, if there is one and crossing things off as they go through it, right. So that’s those people are just wired, wired differently. And some of the turbulence between those three perceptions of life and the way those three types of people work, are the cause of some of the why some of the issues that companies have and why. So
Damon Pistulka 23:39
this, this really comes to bring something to mind and ask, so you really need to understand what kind of person out of these three, the visionary the operator or process or type of person you need, in a certain role, don’t Yeah,
Ron Higgs 23:54
absolutely. So listen to this. Right. So you’re talking about let’s go back and talk about early struggle, right? So early struggle, you usually have a visionary that’s going to start a company, right. So what happens if a visionary goes out and gets another visionary to help him or her start a company? Yeah, usually talking about a lot of stuff and nothing happens. Yes, right. Well, go ahead. Yeah,
Damon Pistulka 24:18
this is one good point, though, that I think that people when we’re looking at growth, and we’re looking at who we hire, as we’re growing a company, we really need to look at that role. What that role requires, and probably not all the time, but the vast majority of time, it’s probably not going to be like you if you’re the one that started the company.
Ron Higgs 24:43
Correct. So usually visionaries will go out and find an operator to go out and help them start the company. So in that stage, we talked about fun, after they found their profitable, sustainable market and things are going well. It’s usually a visionary and several art arrangers just going out and getting stuff done. And then as they grow, or they recognize the need for systems and processes it, then they get a process to come in and start inserting those systems and processes. So what happens is the visionary says, Hey, we need systems and processes for everyone except me. Right? The visionaries typically want to follow their own systems or processes.
They want everybody else to follow, right? And then the operators like, What do you mean, I’ve got a process, you’re slowing me down, I got work to do, I don’t have time to do process. And so a good example of this is keeping track of time because I’ve run into this in companies I’ve done, right? it’s so you come in, and the processor is like, hey, we need to keep track of our time, we need to operator and your operator group that keep track of their time because you know, we didn’t develop much a cost for us to do a project, right? Because we want to make sure that we’re doing it profitably.
And then the operators like, I can’t, you know, now you want me to take, you want me to keep track of my time. Now you want me to fill out forms? Now you want me to do this? Right. And so there’s that constant struggle, right. And so the process or the visionary and operators are Mavericks? You know, the visionary thinks that the processes are slowing down and stifling their creativity, that again, you can see how you need all those people, but they’re all motivated by different things. And that causes some of the turbulence and what?
Damon Pistulka 26:27
Yeah, yeah. So as you see people getting to this point to where they’re moving out, or where they’re having fun, where they’re deciding and doing deciding and doing and moving into the where the company really becomes more difficult to operate. But actually, if you successfully get there more sustainable, what are some of the things they really need to be addressing in that point to where we, you know, we used to do it like this.
And now we’re in this state where it’s kind of like you said, Whitewater, I think you call that is, is where we’re, we’re, we’ve got customers, we’re growing, but it’s boy, it’s kind of chaotic. So what are some of the steps that they should do? Because I, intuitively, I feel like this is a spot to where you need to step back and kind of take the lay of the land and make some decisions here, do a little bit of planning or something at this point, because otherwise, these companies just stay in this churn like this forever. Well,
Ron Higgs 27:26
you’re absolutely right. And let me talk about this, right. So the first thing they need to be to do is be committed to moving to predictable success through Whitewater, because a perfectly acceptable option is to move back into this period of fun. But that means that there’s going to be a limit on the company’s growth, right, you can only grow so much, right?
If you want to get to the point where you can scale you have to go to predictable success. And I don’t think I fully answered your question the last time and I will, and I think this should answer it. Another thing you have to commit to is not everybody’s going to make that journey to predictable success.
And a lot of times, it’s the operators and end up dropping out. Because those people were operators, they just want to get stuff done. They don’t want to be encumbered by processes, they may actually like the fun part, right. So the fun was really, really good for the operators, and there are some operators that will just resist the processes, they will resist the processor, and the company is not going to be able to move forward with those people. I’ve been in the situation where I had, and this is looking back on this before I actually knew what predictable success was.
But there is something we call Big Dog operators, which means that means these operators are they’re really, really dominant operators, right? Because everybody kind of has a trace of visionary operator processor. And some people have, like, no traces visionary or processor or operator set, let’s say, right, those people really, really resist, they’re like, hey, this company is not what it used to be and used to be fun, you know, it’s going to be a different company. And I don’t want to be a part of that. And they’ll actually start to sabotage some of the uppers to forward.
So those people have to go now some of those people are cofounders of the company and close friends, people that the visionary see, oh, you know, they may, you know, they may be godparents each other’s children. You know what I mean? Because they went through a lot together, but every one is not going to make to that and so they have to be really committed to scaling. You’ve committed to doing that. If not, it’s perfectly okay for them to move back to fun, but they just know they’re not going to grow. They’re only there’s going to be a cap on their growth if
Damon Pistulka 29:56
they that’s a great point because I think a lot of people get I can Oh, we got to scale, we got to scale, we got to scale. But if you’re not really committed on going all the way to having the right people in the right spots, then staying at a certain size where you can do what you do how you’re doing it today, and having fun is an acceptable option.
Ron Higgs 30:16
Well, you’re one company that I was a part of, you know, I kind of looked around and said, Okay, we’re in, I’ll make these numbers up. We’re an $8 million company with, you know, with a million in profit, right? Well, let’s first be an $8 million company with 2 million in profit, right?
And then we can consider them we could talk about whether or not we want to scale. Right. So because efficient as you can, before making that decision to move to predictable success. And my sense, was this company looking back, they would have probably have they understood this whole concept. Had I understood it. Right and been a part of it, it would have been best to move that company back into fun.
Damon Pistulka 31:03
Yeah, well, yeah. And you’re right, because you can operate where you have deciders and doers, doing the work together, making the quick decisions and doing that, and then work on you’re increasing your profitability rather than growing the business because you don’t necessarily need to grow top line revenue to grow profits.
Ron Higgs 31:23
Absolutely. And not everybody, let’s say single person businesses. So right now I’m a single person business, right? It’s just me, I can only do so much. I have no desire to build a large team to build a huge company to go out and doing what I’m doing. So for me, it’s a single person business fine. Is the place that I want to be.
Damon Pistulka 31:40
Yeah. Yeah. That’s a good point. Because sometimes, like I said, I think it just we get, a lot of people get fixated on that scaling and, and crash going through it, because they don’t want to get the right people in the right spots. And there’s a lot of you know, I don’t know, do you think that that happens a lot where people go, Oh, well, we got to get this to scale, and they just don’t get there because they don’t commit or they can’t really get the right people in the right roles?
Ron Higgs 32:08
Well, there’s your I think those are some of the systems but there’s a lot more to it, too, right? Everybody, it’s got to be aligned, like the visionary has to share his or her vision and make sure that everyone else is aligned with that vision. So that’s one of those things we call alignment, right? Everybody? I mean, have you ever been anywhere where the mission statement wasn’t clear, or the vision wasn’t clear.
I mean, those things have to be clear, and then they have to be committed to it. And everybody in the organization has to understand that goal and be committed to working towards it. The other part of it is something that in predictable success calls the enterprise. This is for the leadership team, when you are a part of the leadership team, you are there to move the business forward, not necessarily your silo of the business, right? So the decisions that you make as part of the leadership team should be those that are best for the business, and not necessarily best for your department. Does that make sense?
And if people understand, right, that’s part of it. And then once they understand that, then they actually start working laterally, which means that if you’re an operations, you’re looking at it, the other department going, Okay, if I make this decision, how is that going to impact finance, how’s that going to impact operations, they’re actually thinking about some of the other parts of the business. And then the team’s not necessarily the leadership team, people are actually working cross functionally, they’re actually moving outside of their solo silo and communicating with people who aren’t necessarily in their, you know, in their group.
And that’s really the best place you could be. That’s part of a month, so they have to sort of get that piece. So again, no organization that was a part of you just had a fight between different departments, right, they didn’t work together. They’re just constantly fighting for resources, they lacked that enterprise. And they weren’t going to make it to predictable success until they, as the leadership team understood that they were all here to move the whole business forward.
Damon Pistulka 34:17
Yeah. And I can imagine that as you get a little bit bigger, too, it’s easier to silo and silo and Silo, and create more of these silos where people are, you know, just what’s best for them.
Ron Higgs 34:30
It is and one of the things that I did, as a fractional CEO is just created a cross functional project, pick something that was cross functional that would benefit the entire company, and my favorite was onboarding. Well, that’s every but let’s pick people from every department and start working on the onboarding process because that benefits everyone. It gets you people used to working together.
There are no I mean, an onboarding. Everybody’s kind of equal. Right? You know what I mean? It’s so far Functional projects really the way to do that. And then once you get people started starting to work cross functionally. And then you start when you have the room in your business to allow people to do other things.
You know, in a creative agency, you’ve got somebody that comes in and sales and said, Hey, I’d really like to learn how to be a part of the film crew. It’s like, okay, yeah, well, okay, if we can work some time into it, your primary job can’t suffer. But we will allow you some time to go and work with a film crew and see that that’s something that you might want to do. Benefits. Everybody teaches them a new skill, it teaches them a new appreciation and understanding for people in other departments and how they work. Right. So those are all great things to do.
Damon Pistulka 35:42
Yeah, and I can imagine that, that letting people work outside of their normal area once in a while to, or develop those other skills helps them within their area to dig because they start to see more holistically how what they do affects the rest of the business,
Ron Higgs 36:01
especially when it’s thing, especially when they’re tangible things. And I’ll give you an example of when I was I was a manager of a large group of people at Boeing. And my people actually touch the airplane, right? We actually had people got on the airplane, okay, if there’s a lot of people at Boeing that never get the touch of airplane, right, they’re sitting up there in front of spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and all sorts of other stuff.
So I opened up a position my department called, you know, those matter who was called, but that allowed anybody in the entire organization to come and train and do this role for aircraft delivery, where they would actually get to walk onto the airplane with the client in checked a bunch of things off before we delivered the airplane. Right? And that’s oversimplifying it, but I suppose here’s the commitment, you got to do this.
And the more people we have qualified to do it, it’s going to be better for everyone. You know, to get people who have been sitting in front of contracts, spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations all day, to get them actually on an aircraft, right, they didn’t get to fly, but they at least got on it.
You know, when the aircraft had power on it even got all the things laid up, make sure it works. Yeah. You wouldn’t believe how it energize those people. I mean, how they would come back and go, Man, I was on the airplane that day, it was great. I mean, just a little groundwork that, you know, I had I almost missed more people that we can handle coming in volunteer and to do that. Right. It helped the entire organization by having as many people as we could. qualified to do that particular job.
Damon Pistulka 37:42
Yeah. Yeah. Good stuff there. Because that, yeah, CrossFitting so important in that. So as you’re going through this, and you’re and we’re in this situation where we’re past the fun stage, we’re in this whitewater things are going, what are some of the typical things you’re going to see? You talked about quality of delivery of product, you’re going to see some quality problems? What are some of the other typical things that you see as a company’s really, past the fun stage, and in that whitewater stage, where they’re, they’re grown, but it’s not pretty.
Ron Higgs 38:21
Crisis Management and firefighting, right? You know how it is, right? You’ll see, I mean, if that’s the norm me, do you want to come in and just fight fires every day, and manage crises every day, that’s, that’s part of it, you know, stalled growth. thing, again, just screw ups, just people dropping the ball, like, hey, let’s, you know, either.
If you’ve got a product, you’ve either delivered, delivered to the wrong place, you’ve delivered the wrong quantity, you’ve delivered the wrong product, or if a service, you’ve just thought the client coming back, and your clients aren’t as happy as they used to be. Now, they’re like, Hey, you guys, you guys aren’t doing as well as you used to. So in pointing between different groups, I mean, there’s just, you know, there’s a lot of those things just churn in general, you may have some employees, or you may just have people leave it, you know, and not understanding why, you know, if you’re listening for symptoms, as well
Damon Pistulka 39:24
as read a couple notes here, as I’m thinking through this, because it is a lot of companies get to that stage. And maybe you’ve got some numbers, so how many companies get that stage and actually go past it?
Ron Higgs 39:39
I actually don’t have numbers for that. So I’m sorry, I don’t have it. Okay.
Damon Pistulka 39:42
No, I was just curious, because it’s interesting to see how many actually get past the point or how many just live in that kind of crisis mode for many, many years. Because I mean, you can be profitable in that it’s just not as good as you want to be.
Ron Higgs 39:56
One of the things I really liked about this product optimal success, right? Because there’s a lot of systems out there. And I found this when I read all the books, you know, and decided to become a predictable success practitioner, right? Because I found it to be very intuitive. And if I, if I think if more companies understood this almost like adolescence, right, puberty, you’re gonna go through it. Right? You’re gonna go through it, and you just got to get through, right?
Yeah, it just happens. And so one of the things that predictable success is, hey, you’re gonna go through this, here are some ways we can help you get through it quickly. But I think just knowing it, just knowing about those stages, recognizing the phase that you’re in and going, Wow, man, this is just kind of a normal part of growth. Well, yeah, it is. And then understanding those kinds of people.
And then how bringing in the right kinds of people at the right time maps. Because if you’re in fun, right, and you bring in processors too early, there’s, you know, if you’re out there just running around with a couple people, you don’t need that much process, right? So work, you bring in another visionary. And then you start to get dominant with visionaries, and you have all these ideas, you don’t have enough people to go out and execute those ideas. So that’s why I think it’s important.
Now, one thing, one person that I didn’t, one person that I did, or one type of person that I didn’t mention earlier is person called senators, Senator, just as a person is going to get into predictable success. Because synergist is I’m a synergist. synergist is a person that understands all three of the others. And the synergist is a learned spy, which means at some point, you are a visionary operator or processor, and you evolved into being dissenters. And it’s centered just as kind of the one that works behind the scenes to get everyone else to understand the motivations of the other.
So what I did as a fractional CEO, is I sit back and you know, I’m looking at the operator going, hey, the operator needs to do this, and the company needs to know that, or the processor needs to log your time. Because we really need to know how much it costs us to do stuff. I mean, and then you also get a divisionary, go, Listen, you have 1000 ideas today, and the operator can only do two of those. And so, figure out what’s two are the most important. And let’s maybe kind of pull back on some of the ideas and changes in direction, because you’re burning the operators out. And so it’s with that sort of style of person that you get into predictable success.
Damon Pistulka 42:38
Yes, because it does, I tell you that it does really take someone that knows about all the types of people to really see what’s the right type of person for a position. And, you know, where are we going to, we’re here, now we need to go there. And it’s going to take someone like that, or that helped to get that person there.
Ron Higgs 42:59
Yeah, and let me let me talk about, I’ll talk about that predictable success pathway a little bit more, there’s actually predictable success is sort of at the pinnacle of this thing. And there’s actually you can actually start to decline. And you the first stage of this decline is called, it’s called treadmill. And what happens with treadmill is you start to actually become over processed. And you may have seen some companies like this where process people live to execute the process. You weren’t Yeah, it is more important to actually do the checklist than it is to come complete with the checklist was therefore to begin with, right? Think government agencies and things like that, right?
Where it’s like, no, this is the process and are so rigid on the process, that they start to lose that innovation and creativity, right. So the key in that and getting yourself back to predictable success is to bring more visionaries is to hire right? For you through your hiring practices you can make bring more visionaries, in, you can bring fewer processors in, right bring in more visionaries and naturally kickstart your innovation and creativity. Right. So that’s like, you know, like I said, like, you can tell I’m a big proponent of this because one it’s very intuitive.
You don’t have to go to a class or get a certification to understand visionary operator process or incinerators. Right? Nor do you have to do Hey, this is fun. This is Whitewater. This is predictable success. I find it to be very intuitive. And so when you’re I find that to be important because if you’re sitting at this predictable success, right? Do you want to bring in more processors you want to bring in more visionaries or if you’re in fun, do you want to bring in another visionary? You know, again, just knowing that will help you in having the right person in the right makeup of the leadership team is important to keep that company in that place where it skill.
Damon Pistulka 44:56
Yeah, because it because it’s always going to change to I would think as you As you’re keep scaling your company, you’re gonna need to really be measuring the, you know, are we doing? Are we flexible enough to really be innovative and do the things we want? And are we process driven enough to make high quality? You know, people can count on this doing it the right way every time. And are we getting? Do we have enough capacity to get the things done? Like we want to get them done?
Ron Higgs 45:27
Yeah, you’re absolutely right. And then you talked about decisions, too. So remember, when you’re kind of fun, right? You can make decisions quickly and implement them quickly. Right?
When you’re in Whitewater, you make decisions quickly, but it takes forever to implement them. Right? When you’re in this stage called predictable success, you actually make decisions slowly, but implement them quickly. Right? Because everybody’s aligned and everybody committed to the enterprise, in the slow part is because you’ve built this team, and you’ve built this communication network, right? Where people are communicating laterally, they’re communicating with each other. So decision making is slower, but the implementation is a lot faster.
Damon Pistulka 46:08
Yeah, that’s, that’s a great point. Because I think as people see businesses getting bigger, they think the overall process is slower. But I think if you do it right, at least to a certain point, obviously if it gets huge, huge, you can actually speed your decision, the overall to the end result, getting to the end result, because we take a little more time at the beginning to really make sure we going to do it, make sure everybody’s aligned, we’ve got the input, but then it’s like whoosh, it goes through a lot faster.
Ron Higgs 46:41
You’re absolutely right. 100%.
Damon Pistulka 46:45
And that’s, that’s the thing. I mean, it’s so interesting to me as you dissect it, and we’re getting close to time here. It’s so interesting to me here as you start to dissect the challenges of a company that’s really growing and understand and looking at it differently in and really understand the people that you need, the roles that you need to fill and how that’s constantly changing, and how the, the leaders really need to be aware of that.
Ron Higgs 47:16
Yeah, again, I think that once I became aware of this, once I started studying it, you know, I was able to go back and reflect upon every organization I’ve been a part of, and figure out oh, that’s, that’s why we were having that problem. I get it. That’s why this didn’t happen. That’s why this did happen. You know, I really think it’s, you know, I really think it’s advantageous to know this. Listen, there’s a lot of other systems out there, you know, that?
Yeah, there’s all sorts of stuff. Yeah, this is just the one that works for me. Right. And this is the one that I gravitated to, because I felt it was so I felt it was intuitive. And a lot of the things, a lot of it, I felt like I could have wrote myself because as a fractional CEO, and an independent, I was going out in some of the solutions to getting out of whitewater where solutions that I was implementing, you know, locked in somewhere and went, Oh, we don’t have an org chart. Let’s get that straightened out. Let’s get the rules.
You know, let’s get people’s roles and responsibilities clarify, let’s figure out where decisions are being made. Now, let’s do this. Well, guess what, that’s one of the things in predictable success that, you know, one of the first things that we do when moving a company from whitewater and the predictable success. And that whole part, I felt like I kind of wrote it myself when I got there. But again, business systems, right, there’s a lot of them out there. I recommend that people just go and take a look, right? Because there’s I’ve seen a bunch of copy on stages to company companies go through and I think they’re all right. So exactly, you would go.
Damon Pistulka 48:52
Exactly, that’s what I was gonna say. It’s like, you know, these are like, you know, jeans, there’s a lot of different kinds of jeans, you just got to pull one pair on that works for you. And, and really, the thing that’s cool about what you’ve talked about today, you talked about predictable success.
And we’ve mentioned EOS and there are other systems, but it’s, you really need to look at what’s happening in your organization and look at some of these systems because they will give you that basic foundation and give you some tools that can help you continue to refine and improve your business.
Ron Higgs 49:28
Yeah, let me just go back to you know, you talked before about aircraft, right and airplane. So in my flying career, right, we have a plan, you got to start with a plan, right?
So we planned the flying, we execute the flight and then we debrief everyone, so we figure out what went good and what was bad and the goal is continuous improvement. Right? In the same thing with the business, right? This you know, make a plan, any plan right? work towards executing that plan, right? And then step back and evaluate how the plan is going in and adjust accordingly. And then be ready for things not to go according to that plan.
Damon Pistulka 50:12
Yes, yes. Yeah, exactly. Well, this is this is awesome, Ron, because you’ve, I’m just so appreciative of you coming by and talking about this, because I think business owners go, a lot of times are the leaders, business owners in these higher growth companies and go, Man, this is, this is really unique. But it’s not these things happen all over. If they can step back, take a look at it, and maybe get some tools and some help they can really make a difference and work them work through these issues. You are not alone. Yeah. Right. Are not companies out
Ron Higgs 50:53
there doing you’re experiencing the same kinds of problems you are, and there is a way to navigate your way through those problems. And yes, yes, system will help you I know, predictable success. Opia. You have any questions about it, happy to go through it with you. And I know there’s some other systems out there to help.
Damon Pistulka 51:11
Yes, there are, sir. Well, Ron, thanks so much for being here today. Again, we have Ron Hague’s from wealth management solutions, talking about the reducing business growth challenges. And we’re talking about predictable success and some of the key things that you need to consider as you go through different stages of scaling and growing your companies. Thanks so much for being here today, Ron. So we’re where’s a good place for people to get a hold of you?
Ron Higgs 51:38
Oh, LinkedIn, you know how much I love LinkedIn. I’m all over LinkedIn, reach out, send me a connecting request. That is the best place to find me.
Damon Pistulka 51:47
Awesome. Awesome. Well, thanks, everyone for being here today. Thanks, Ron, for stopping by and sharing your knowledge of free shaped you and we will be back again later this week.
Ron Higgs 52:00
Thanks for having me there.