How we do this - The Four Phases

Discovery – Defining the problems through deep hands on diligence

Intense and rapid, the steps to discovery are described as follows:

  • Interview stakeholders to understand the context of the investment and the business strategy.
  • Analyze financial condition and projections.
  • Assess systems and processes.
  • Examine risk and risk mitigation.
  • Perform rigorous journalistic / autobiographical interviews of all senior staff.
  • Observe team behavior for potential issues and gaps.
  • Share our findings and suggested solutions in order of relevance and urgency. 

The Discovery phase is used in all of our engagements.  At the conclusion of the Discovery phase we review issues in order of relevance and urgency and recommend a path forward.  Depending on the level of complexity in the business and access to key individuals, this phase may last from two to six weeks.  Costs should be borne by the company and, for the venture investor, conditioned as a requirement of the round.  Engagement can end with this phase or continue with the implementation of recommendations.

Triage – Fix urgent critical path issues 

In this phase we address the most urgent problems whether they are staff, systems, finance or process related.  The “fix” in the triage phase may not represent the final desired “architecture” rather it is in direct response to urgent needs. 

Stabilization – Right people, right action, right time 

Every business needs a target “architecture” of people and processes that best support their strategy.  Beyond fixing the most urgent needs during triage, we take what we have learned in the first two phases to help management devise and implement the target architecture.  Where we identify needs outside of our skill set we call on our collaborators (firms and individuals with very high success rates in their respective disciplines).

Optimization - Making high performance a habit  

High performance teamwork does not come easy in the business environment.  Compared to Navy Seals, athletes and artists, businesses are constantly on stage with little or no time to “practice”.  We improvise.  Without the time to practice effective teamwork, businesses often fall prey to a host of people driven issues.  Any of these sound familiar: personal agendas, unilateral decision making, victim mentality, blaming, gossip, divisive second guessing, back channeling, unstated or unacknowledged worries, or letting others fail?  

Team performance results from a complex set of team and individual choices made within dynamically changing sets of circumstances and incomplete data.  High performance teams have these attributes:

Passionately committed team members: 

  • Trust each other on a fundamental emotional level.
  • Move from “I have your back” to “Your back is my back”.
  • See providing and receiving feedback as a necessity for high performance.
  • Hold each other accountable for each other’s success.

Productive teams:

  • Demand high candor in meetings; pre/post meetings are rare.
  • Don’t hesitate to challenge each other and are not afraid of passionate dialog.
  • See conflict as essential to performance and effectiveness, not something to fear or see as sabotage.
  • Have self-aware members that understand that everyone gets hijacked by fear from time to time; They call it out and provide support.
  • Decisions stick and meetings are efficient and constructive.
  • Most importantly, they succeed where others squander opportunities and investor capital.

Why is this work important?  Because CEOs and academicians report that 80% of barriers to success in business are behavioral and coordination based.  Why don’t more businesses have high performance teams?  Because it is a hard, long-term process and involves a personal commitment from every member.    We do not recommend engaging in high performance team enhancement if your company is less than 12 months from exit.  

WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED

Regained lost investor confidence and access to capital in an Alternative Asset Manager by restructuring financial and operational functions.  

Saved a San Francisco based graduate school from insolvency through intensive program revisions, faculty changes and financial engineering.

Engaged in thought partnership with tech company CEO leading to restructuring and successful refinance.

High performance team restructuring in a Venture Capital firm. 

Privately coached various C-level executives.