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6 Generating Creative Solutions by Asking All the Questions

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6

Generating Creative

Solutions by Asking the Questions

When we arrived at the question, the answer is already near.

—RALPH WALDO EMERSON

In 1983 I became a vice president at Pizza Hut, Inc., a division of PepsiCo, Inc. This was an exciting and eventful achievement for me that included company stock, financial rewards, and recognition. One of the perks I received was an opportunity to go to the corporate office for a three-day management program the vice presidents referred to as “finishing school.” Although I did not know it at the time, this experience was to make an impression on me that would help shape both my career and the thinking that came to underlie the Profit Building Process (PBP).

The highlight of this program was a high-powered meeting with the CEO and a few top members of his staff. In this meeting, vice presidents from various divisions across the country jockeyed for position, each hoping to make a positive impression on the CEO and his team. The format was a sort of oral exam; the CEO would ask a vice president a variety of questions, and one’s answers could result in either personal glory or public humiliation. The atmosphere was tense, the competition so thick you could cut it with a jackhammer.

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5 Preparing Your Team and the Organization

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5

Preparing Your Team and the Organization

Make thy Model before thou buildest; and go not too far in it without due preparation.

—THOMAS FULLER

In 1987, I accepted a position with Imperial Savings, a

100-branch savings and loan organization. My title was senior vice president, branch banking. I was responsible for making this 100branch network more profitable.

Before I accepted this position, I had been with Pizza Hut, Inc., where I was responsible for more than 1000 company-owned and franchise-operated restaurants. Taking on Imperial’s 100 bank branches should have been a piece of cake. After all, these branches were large facilities, made of marble, glass, and brass and fully staffed by tellers who spent a third of their time serving customers.

But instead of my new job being easy, I found I had many obstacles to overcome.

The branches were managed by vice presidents who had years of experience and tenure in the industry. I quickly learned that years of experience and tenure do not necessarily translate into ease of transition or ready adoption of new ideas.

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3 The Profit Building Process

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3

The Profit Building Process

True creativity is characterized by a succession of acts each dependent on the one before and suggesting the one after.

—EDWIN H. LAND, Inventor and founder of the

—Polaroid Corporation

While I was president of a national auto glass company, we were faced with what must be an ongoing battle within many organizations that have a widespread sales force: how to reduce sales force costs while continuing to address customer needs, establish customer relationships, and develop new prospects. My initial approach seemed logical but ended in disaster. I pulled a report on the past three years of revenue generation and associated expenses. I then chose a cross section of the sales force and asked them to meet with their supervisor and me. Can you imagine inviting 11 sales professionals to a meeting to discuss why they should reduce their costs? In their view, their budgets were already too tight. After the first hour, I had to end the meeting for fear that they would convince me to authorize increasing the level of spending to hold on to the customers we had! I quickly realized that there was no way I was going to obtain compliance without demoralizing them. I had to take a different approach.

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Contents

Ludy, Perry J Berrett-Koehler Publishers PDF
Medium 9781576751084

10 Sixty Further Steps to Cut Costs in All Areas of Your Business

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128

Sixty Further Steps to Cut Costs in All Areas of Your Business

This chapter will address cost-cutting approaches to this remaining 60%—those areas that are waiting to be discovered but are often ignored.

The need for uncovering these hidden profits became apparent to me during an extended business trip in 1997. I was fortunate to be one of three executives who helped to sell our corporation via a strategic initiative in the capital market. The process was the most challenging that I have been a part of to-date in my career. We stayed at the Grand Hyatt New York for about three months until the transaction was complete.

It was during this time that I first began to consider writing this book. We presented for numerous hours to arguably some of the best deal-makers on Wall Street. Yet they continued to probe deeper, searching for some silver bullet to account for our dramatic cash-flow improvement that occurred in just over a twoyear period. It was then that I realized that Profit Building is a unique process. There was no silver bullet, only the process that

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