Where Big Ideas Come From

Our 3rd CEO Leadership Event of our 3-part Series

Wednesday, May 18th from 12noon – 2pm

Logo Exec Lead

What can we learn from fast growth businesses who live and provide the latest technology?  How do they find the right people? Where do their big ideas come from? Does culture drive growth or does culture adapt?

Join us for a rich conversation over a lovely lunch and no traffic!

REGISTER TODAY TO HAVE A SEAT AT THE TABLE!

PANELISTS:

CloudLock   Gil Zimmermann, CEO & Co-Founder, CloudLock

Mobiquity   Bill Seibel, past CEO, Mobiquity

CTP   Chris Greendale, Founder & CEO, Cloud Technology Partner

MODERATOR:            Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, Founder & CEO, Next Stage Solutions, Inc

WHERE:  The Lanam Club, 260 N Main Street, Andover, MA 01810

Register Today!

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz of Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | 617. 449. 7728

Andy Snider of Snider Associates | 617. 947. 1170

NSS Launches CEO Mini Series

Spiral

A 3-part mini series for CEOs and Business Owners in how successful business leaders have grown their organizations.

Each of these programs is by invitation only!

Accelerated Growth Demands Critical and Innovative Shifts

Access ideas from CEOs and learn how they achieved accelerated growth from implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identify and develop new growth opportunities.

Sign up Pre-registration is required. Sign up for all 3 or 1 at a time.

PART 1: Building  an Organization that Can Thrive in a VUCCA* World  ( *Volatile, Uncertain, Changing, Chaotic, Ambiguous)

Thursday, January 21, 2016 12noon – 2pm at the Harvard Club, Back Bay

Learn about the importance of linking strategy, leadership, learning,  and accountability to create an organization with maximum flexibility to deliver positive results in changing environments. Come hear how 3 corporate leaders built organizations that have thrived in change and created lasting value, by getting the right people and getting them to do the right things at the right time.

PANELISTS:

  • Roger Berkowitz, CEO,  Legal Sea Foods
  • Pat Sullivan, CEO,  Game Creek Video
  • Dennis Slutsky, Former CEO,  American Dryer

Moderator: Andy Snider, President of Snider Associates

PART 2: Tomorrow is Here: Profitable Growth Requires Critical Assessments Tools for Effective Strategy Execution

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12noon – 2pm at Waltham Woods, Waltham

Hear from successful CEOs in how they shifted their focus to achieve growth from implementing the right infrastructure to effectively identifying new growth opportunities. Join us to learn more in how CEOs have embraced qualitative and quantitative practices to address demands critical for future growth and longterm value creation.

PANELISTS:

  • Charlie Storey, President,  Harpoon Brewery
  • Kevin Young, President,  Mondi Group USA
  • Randy Nunley, CEO, Odyssey System Consult. Group

Moderator: Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions

PART 3:  Addressing the Challenges of Succeeding the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 18, 2016 12noon – 2pm at the Lanam Club, Andover

Approaches that worked in 2000 are not enough to succeed in 2016.  Learn about techniques that the most advanced companies are using to achieve extraordinary results and make their organizations more adaptive.  Panelists to be announced.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CALL 617-449-7728

Sign up

Meet the New NSS Team

INTRODUCTION TO SOME NEW FOLKS

We have been busy and making some positive changes at NSS.

  • We moved to our new HQ in Burlington in January
  • We launched our new website in March
  • We expanded our core team this Spring

Click on the short videos below to be introduced to each of our core team members.  Enjoy and Share with any CEO and Business Owner who would benefit from meeting us!

CONTACT US TODAY!  WE ARE READY TO HELP TURN YOUR CHALLENGES OF TODAY  INTO OPPORTUNITIES FOR TOMORROW.  CALL ANY OF US AT 617-449-7728

pARTNERSHIP

Continuous Improvements

“The value of an idea lies in the using of it” – Thomas A. Edison

I have had the privilege to talk with CEOs and Business Owners who make CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT their mantra. When you go into their businesses, there is an energy, a positivity and employee engagement unlike others.

Are you thinking, ah, that is just another ‘Toyota’ thing and spare me the rest of the conversation, I am not in manufacturing? Well, hear me out!

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT is a culture and a mindset coupled with an employee empowerment plan and most importantly, it brings a focus of what truly adds value to your customers and clients. If it does not, you have to think seriously about why you are doing it. Questions to ask: Does the customer care? If not, why are we doing it? Can we eliminate it or improve it?

Hospitals, banks, restaurants and consulting firms are some of the industries who are earnestly looking at the CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT culture and I believe so should you! Automated systems, operational efficiency and customer focus is what will keep you competitive. In order to manage this process, you have to have a baseline to start, so you can measure it, improve it and measure it again.

In an earlier blog I introduced you to a new and comprehensive process we call VISION DAY. A simple process that leads you through the complexity of your business to assess where you are today (Point A), not in a cookie cutter way, but in a neatly customized way to reflect your company in present state, yeah the SWOT analyses stuff! Then we take you on a journey of where you see your business three years out (Point B).

Our comprehensive process does not leave any stones unturned. On this journey, after we understand Point A and B, we focus on the planning of 3-5 initiatives and come up with a milestone plan (same day). We believe at this juncture is where a lot of strategies fail, sending you back to implement all the initiatives, yet still continue with the same work load? We offer to become your sounding board, advisor and mentor over the months ahead as we help you get the initiatives implemented. We already know what you are trying to accomplish and can hold you to it and make sure it gets done. Aspirations can fade quickly when all you have is 80 hours to work! Believe me, once you get some positive changes out of the way, your employees start to bring their energy into the business and that is where CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT begins.

Creating a baseline through a VISION DAY is an excellent start. You begin to appreciate the culture change in moving from Point A towards Point B. You have a plan and step by step, you begin to implement your initiatives. This is where the rubber hits the road and of course hurdles will be in the way, but with the right support you actually can drive your business through this transformation.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT becomes a mantra, a way of doing business. Employees are empowered and encouraged to problem solve. This leads to increased productivity and before you know, the customer is being served faster and better. Your employees understand your goals and provide ongoing support. You also begin to notice how your operational efficiency is improving (translate: creating value) and you begin to look at all procedures and systems with a mindset of eliminating steps that bring no value. Waste is expensive.

One more thing, having NO roadmap does not get your there! Having a roadmap is ONLY effective if you evaluate and measure it regularly to assure your plan is succeeding as planned. If not, the competition will beat you and leave you in the dust with no more fuel. According to a recent PwC report on family businesses[1], the fear of competition almost doubled over the last two years and is a major concern, as the big guys keep getting bigger.

CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT is a path towards a stronger and faster business. Would you like to start a conversation with us? This is the kind of work we are passionate about, and together we can make sure you are not left behind.

I leave you with this saying by Andy Warhol

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself”

[1]  “Professionalize to optimize: US family firms are no longer winging it” by PwC, 2015

Increase your Company Value

Increase your Company Value with an EBITDA Transformation

By Thomas Sobell, Managing Director at Next Stage Solutions, Inc. | sobell@nextstagesolutions.com

As CEO, you are charged with driving the value of your company. Public companies are measured by the market capitalization, however, both public and private companies are measured by their Enterprise value. How do you best optimize the value of your business? Increase your Cash Returns through an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) transformation.

This may result from developing new products, technologies or acquiring companies under the current portfolio.

Alternatively, look within the company and seek out “speed bumps” or bottle necks that hinder your organization from delivering, fast, efficient products to the market you serve. See if there are common issues that span the entire organization that can be fixed by bringing key individuals together to problem solve. As CEO, you are in the unique position to see the holistic vision of the company.

Look for commonalities in business problems, across all functional areas.. What are your finance people saying and  compare those sentiments with operations, human resources, sales and marketing. Likely your managers are saying they depend on another function of the company to achieve their objectives and resolve their issues.  That is a starting point for discussions with multiple departments working together on solving problems with department objectives aligned by cooperate goals.

From that point, you want to develop measurement tools that all can agree on and adhere to. A measurement feedback system is a guidepost for management to work more effectively. Maximize the revenue inflow of cash and supply your customers with the appropriate mix of services and products. Focus on efficient allocation of costs to generate optimal customer satisfaction. That minimizes the overall cost of production. Put the two together, and more cash is generated from both the top and bottom lines. All the while the customer is happy and employees inside the company no longer point fingers saying,

IF ONLY…

Your Roadmap to a Successful Transformation:

  • Bring your senior staff together, cross functionally. Ask what they think are the key impediments to higher productivity.
  • Which suggestions, if implemented, are measurable – a before and after?
  • Separate those suggestions that directly impact cash flows from indirect measures of productivity, efficiencies and profit.
  • Focus on solutions that produce an incremental positive cash flow.

Here is how we supported one of our clients using this method.

Problems:

  • Financial people say sales and growth are leveling off
  • Everyone should work harder to get similar returns on sales.
  • Sales and marketing can book the sales, but are not sure which kind of sales are the most or least profitable.
  • Operations continues to fill orders and makes the customer happy, but they don’t have a feedback mechanism to tell them if the mix of people and products sent to the customer are optimal.
  • The customer is happy, but how did it affect profits?

Across the company, the common words were

IF ONLY ….

The Solution:

Bringing the executive team and the managers together, we implemented a Job Costing System. We measured, at the job level, all the input factors; labor and materials, and both direct and in-direct. Our client already had an ERP system, but had a few missing loops that needed to be tied to the overall system to capture truly all direct and indirect costs on all customer profiles. This was achievable by activating an additional tool already available, but not used, and by purchasing and implementing an automated expense management tool.

Result:

Management had a greater understanding each month of jobs produced with the best returns. Pricing was no longer done according to “gut feel”. This new system produced measureable gross margin results immediately after job completion:

  • Pricing schemes can now be altered for subsequent similar jobs.
  • Costs were reduced, as management refocused their skills sets to seek optimal resource allocations between large complex jobs and smaller repetitive ones.
  • Management implemented a new bonus plan that incentivized teams and individuals minimizing the costs of labor and materials for each quoted job.
  • Sales and marketing now have a means to determine more appropriate pricing schemes.
  • Marketing now has the tools to tell which general markets produce the best returns.

The example above resulted in an immediate EBITDA net gain short term. The longer term affects will be gained by understanding better the market opportunities and the profit margins of each service offerings to customers. It also provides sales with the services segments the client wanted to focus on to meet its corporate goals.

 

Watch a Video on an EBITDA Transformation

Give us a Call at 617-449-7728

CEO Interview on Corporate Alignment

A Successful Alignment and Cross-Functional Approach to Company’s Value, Mission and Long Range Goals

By Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc

The QUABAUG Corporation was founded in 1916 in North Brookfield, MA.  Named after a regional Native American tribe, the company began manufacturing a variety of mechanical rubber goods. Today the company’s focus is providing the most technologically advanced products for the performance oriented footwear customer.

Kevin M. Donahue, Chairman and CEO became sole owner of the company in 2010. By maintaining a strong work ethic, Quabaug continues to grow and flourish. The strategy is to make soles more important than shoes. Don’t sell to everyone and grow the brand globally. Make the best products in the world.

I had the pleasure to interview Kevin in how he approached some major changes in his company.

1. As companies grow, they build out departments and before we know, each department becomes a silo of its own. What key issue or challenge led you to believe that you needed to address an alignment?

It was anti-management by objective. I firmly believe that compensating people for accomplishing their objectives is detrimental to team work. We implemented a compensation plan that was based on the individual yet more heavily weighted towards the team.

Sales personnel were focused only on sales but had no long term commitment to customers.

We used to have a budget process, but abandoned this process and replaced it with a quarterly rolling forecast planning towards long term goals.

2. What was the first step you took to bring greater transparency between the key business elements such as sales, operations and finance?

Given that we have 270 employees, we created a champion team. It is now called the leadership team with 35 members. That is where I first made all major financials available to them, and then transitioned into the Rockefeller Habits (Verne Harnish) from predictability models to prioritizing. Now I make all financials available to the leadership team. 

Those people then met with the rest of the associates to discuss the broader goals and broader financials. We have always had KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) but we used the 20/20 planning from the Rockefeller Habits. We established both service metrics and quality metrics, including lean metrics that should be measured and accounted for in a cascading method.

My job is to support the people above and by managing bottom up.

3. Did your managers and employees embrace this change? If not, how did you approach the change?

They embraced it. We approached it in the spirit of continuous improvement and learning. We gave everyone a chance to grow. We also created a 20/20 plan, an instant rewards program.

4. Where did you come across the strongest push back and why?

The accounting department gave us the hardest push back. They wanted to stick to GAAP rules, often confused and wanting to lead the company by making the numbers. A budget can be totally detrimental, especially in a private company.

5. Today, you are running a very agile business and your employees accept change and are part of the overall problem solving mentality. What positive affect did you see short –term and long term?

Making a disciplined investment in ISO, Lean and Rockefeller Habits. If you believe that freely chosen discipline and procedures breed autonomy, then give people the freedom to actively participate in the profit and progress. QUABAUG is a company built for participation, no spectators are allowed. Accountability is the most important aspect in achieving corporate goals.

6. A Benchmark Assessment is really the first step in attacking this challenge. What is the most important message you want to give to other CEOs of growing businesses, something they really should pay attention to now?

Create an atmosphere where change and continuous improvement is rewarded and embraced. This will be the foundation for long term growth and profitability. For a company to grow, employees need to be inward driven where they can grow.

 

Best Practice Roadmap

Alignment Leads to Successful Companies

by Robert M. Weber, Managing Director at Next Stage Solutions, Inc. |  weber@nextstagesolutions.com

In today’s highly competitive marketplace, organizations must remain agile, efficient, and responsive to the needs of their customers. It is critical that information be accurately and effectively communicated across the organization so that important issues/challenges facing the Company can be promptly addressed with the collective knowledge and expertise of Company resources.

There is an old proverb that says, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”. A best practice roadmap is just that, a roadmap to help organizations identify their shortcomings and adopt the behaviors and attributes of successful Companies in order to achieve their desired goals.

Within these successful Companies, the key business elements (Sales, Operations, Finance, and Organization) are closely aligned by the Company’s core values, mission, and long ranges goals & objectives. As a result, shorter term objectives for each business element to support the longer term goals of the Company are clearly identified, while defining interdependencies and encouraging collaboration across the entire organization. When issues, threats, or opportunities present themselves, a concerted effort is quickly undertaken by appropriate members of the organization to review, evaluate, and recommend comprehensive solutions to management for immediate implementation.

Many struggling Companies today operate in “silos” seldom communicating about the important issues facing the Company. As a result, threats and challenges as well as opportunities to grow the business and increase the Company’s value go undetected. Upon further review, it is usually determined that an insightful piece of information was known to someone within a business element at the outset; however, nothing was communicated to others in the organization and no specific action was taken. As often stated, “silos are good for storage, but in business, they create risk and uncertainty that leads to failure”.

There is an ancient story about a blacksmith who did not replace a loose nail on the horseshoe of a courier’s mount. As a result of the loose nail, the mount threw the shoe during a long ride to deliver a critical message; as a result of the thrown shoe, the mount went lame; without his mount, the courier did not deliver a critical message to his General; without the message, the General made decisions that lost a major battle; the loss of the major battle lead to losing the War. As we have often seen in business, little things that go unattended can lead to major issues and missed opportunities for many organizations in today’s highly competitive market.

Developing a comprehensive plan, establishing goals and measurable objectives, and effectively communicating information across the organization can keep your organization on the path to success.

Watch a Video on Benchmark Assessment