They say that you’re never too old to learn something new and that the best lessons often come from unlikely events. Both sayings proved true recently when I was invited to host a roundtable editorial panel for C-Suite Magazine on how market leaders manage critical company projects.
The goal of the roundtable was to identify how successful CEOs go about controlling, communicating, and ultimately implementing projects that are critical to moving the company forward.
We also discussed how managements and boards can be affected when “bet-the company” projects don’t get implemented correctly. Unfortunately, there are examples of failed efforts strewn all over the road when it comes to implementing projects designed to increase bottom-line results and shareholder value.
What specifically did I learn from this roundtable? That sometimes a CEO might suggest something that just flies against all conventional wisdom and you shouldn’t prejudge. The specific example offered was the hiring of consultants to oversee other consultants. Yes… you heard me right. Consultants overseeing consultants! And I heard this true story from one of the most respected and successful manufacturing CEOs over the last 15 years.
Steve Wilson was the CEO for CF Industries, and he hired Liberty Advisor Group to oversee a SAP project because he felt it was the best way for him and his staff to manage an installation critical to the company’s growth. The project installation was successful and provided one of the foundational elements for CF Industries’ continued bottom-line and shareholder value growth.
Wilson was quick to add that even he had to ask himself twice about what he was going to recommend to the board. In the end, the money was a small issue compared to achieving a successful launch, and Wilson felt comfortable with his decision. It was interesting to hear him say that it was a valuable learning experience for him as well.
Have a recent lesson that management or a board can learn from as well? Feel free to send it along. There is a real benefit to learning from others versus the repeated pitfalls of trial and error. We look forward to sharing relevant stories.