Change – A word that conjures up fear, stress, anxiety, and something to postpone. Executives struggle with the emotions of too little, too late, wrong focus, risks, costs, skills, many unknowns, lack of time and bandwidth, conflicting priorities, short term financial performance, and many other situations that justify putting off change.  But change is all a matter of the right leadership perspective and commitment.



No organization has a clean bill of health when it comes to the need for change.  Proactive organizations constantly struggle to identify and turn new opportunities into growth and improved operating results. Increased competition, rising customer expectations, margin squeezes, capacity and CAPEX decisions, supply chain efficiencies, new product introductions, technology and innovation, and cost controls are an everyday challenge.  This economy demands that organizations learn how to optimize these factors, and scale growth and success without scaling the associated costs and overhead at the same rate.  Staying the same is not an option.


What Do You Do? How Do You Get Started? Where Do You Begin?

Three simple questions.  Yet it’s like a game of Prisoner’s Dilemma to get executive teams together and rise above all the daily activities that over-consume their organization’s capacity and capabilities.  This is not a criticism; just the facts of a demanding, disruptive economy.  Everyone sees the waste and everyone wishes that things would improve . . . But improvement is usually the first casualty on everyone’s priority lists.  So what happens?  Improvement gets postponed, compromised, or replaced with compensating behaviors and localized symptomatic firefighting.  Continuing to live with operational wastes and inefficiencies is a leadership choice – And a very risky and costly operating model,

A fresh perspective from the outside world and different set of eyes can shed new light on this challenging situation.  You can’t approach this as if you did something wrong.  The world is changing and bringing with it new opportunities for enterprise performance improvement.

Two Familiar Approaches

Generally, organizations respond in one of two ways:

  1. Typical Reasoning. This is a response of addressing all the issues, details, risks, costs, and ROIs. Next, leadership establishes goals and objectives, performance targets, teams, and tasks/plans for proceeding down the most efficient road to success.  Typical Reasoning is a more deterministic project approach to change, usually with a perceived beginning and end point.
  • This response is an inside-out view of change based on current passive data and a focus on improving As-Is conditions.  This approach is often underestimated and oversimplified, and is severely limited by the organization’s true capabilities, skills, time, and capacity to adapt and execute effectively.
  • The front end is high energy and great intentions followed by cycles of frustrating and futile attempts to jump beyond current conditions.  Innovation is minimal.  Well intentioned efforts turn into going through the standard motions exercises.
  • The people and cultural elements of change are often compromised or not addressed at all.

The organization has high confidence that they know how to proceed successfully.  Most of the time there are early successes.  Daily short term distractions and lack of focus often cause these initiatives to quickly decompose into symptomatic actions and fail to meet the intended objectives.


2.   Affordable Exploration Reasoning. This is a more first responder approach where the urgency and commitment to begin far outweighs the above Typical Reasoning approach to major change.  Executives understand that larger scale transformation and improvement initiatives are a continuous journey with many unknowns, inevitable changes, and perceived risks ahead.

  • The approach is non-deterministic, innovative, open-ended, and evolutionary – Yet with many very structured, disciplined, and deliberate smaller steps.
  • There is a continuous focus on markets, competition, and customer preferences. The unwavering mission is to evolve operational infrastructure to capitalize on new and emerging opportunities.
  • The organization has a genuine interest in nurturing the human, talent development, and cultural fundamentals of sustainable change.
  • Creativity, innovation, and evolving technology are well integrated into this approach.  These organizations understand the need to strive for breakthroughs, strategic differentiators, or advanced business models.

This approach is outside-in, like conquering a complex puzzle by beginning at the outside edges and working your way inward toward the center.  The organization recognizes complexity and that they don’t know what they don’t know.  They proactively manage all the risks, acquire new knowledge and guidance, continuously learn and build upon successes, and achieve a higher and more sustainable degree of performance.


The latter outside-in approach is the most effective way to approach transformation-scale change, whether you do this on your own or engage outside expertise to put the journey on a speedy and focused course.


Step 1: The Operational Transformation Diagnostic

We walk into many organizations that have a great business strategy, commercial strategy, and financial plans . . . But are unable to execute at the operational level. In other words, they are missing the robust operational infrastructure to realize their fuzzy strategies and spreadsheet-based financial plans.  Furthermore, they are behind on emerging technology integration and lack a clear vision, plan, and road map to make this a strategic capability and a competitive advantage.  Organizations that lack this capability of adapting, flexing, and responding to the inevitable disruptions and changes can fall behind fast in this economy.

Caution is in order!  Many larger consulting and technology solutions firms have their own diagnostics and biased ROI calculators.  Much of their assessment is speculative and based on abstract data.  Beware – Their diagnostics are often an instrument for prematurely upselling organizations something, like millions of dollars of follow-on consulting, technology investments, or both.  Today this digital transformation marketplace is like the equivalent Y2K x 100!  Lots of smoke and mirrors solutions and bottled technology that is not really needed (yet) especially in smaller and mid-sized companies.  We’ve been in this business for decades and many of these other diagnostics are tilted and biased to justify their own offerings. What really matters?  Independence, objectivity, candor, deep expertise and experience, knowledge of potential options in the marketplace, and the ability to create a renewed, realistic, and detailed operating model strategy and implementation plan. This is much more important than being a supposed business analytics, AI, robotics, or single point digital solution expert.

CEO offers clients our Operational Transformation Diagnostic, a quick objective assessment of operational capabilities, needs, and improvement opportunities. This may include (but is not limited to) an assessment of the following areas:

  • Operational Strategy, Alignment, and Rationalization
  • Manufacturing, Warehousing and Distribution, and Supplier Management
  • M&A Effectiveness and Portfolio Performance
  • Time-To-Market and New Product Introduction
  • Supply Chain Optimization and Cost Controls
  • Order Fulfillment-To-Cash, E-Commerce Innovations
  • Strategic Sourcing, Integration, and Visibility
  • Financial and Cost Management
  • Technology Integration Planning
  • Capacity and CAPEX Planning
  • Digitization, Analytics, Real Time Performance
  • Enterprise-Wide Operational Perfection
  • Asset and Cash Management
  • Talent and Human Capital Management
  • Executive, Organizational, and Cultural Readiness


“Transformation is not just for large multinational corporations.  Small and mid-sized companies need to be thinking transformation to remain competitive or even in existence.”


You Can’t Improve Without A Solid, Shared Improvement Plan

Transformation is not just for large multinational corporations.  Small and mid-sized companies need to be thinking transformation to remain competitive or even in existence.  On a scale of magnitude, small and mid-sized organizations can implement quicker and more dramatic operating model changes than their larger counterparts.  For M&A and private equity engagements we also offer our Deeper Dive Operational Due Diligence which addresses an organization’s current operating conditions in much greater detail and provides innovative vision for evolving quickly to a superior performing operating model.  Both assessments include:

  • Analysis of current conditions, costs and risks, performance gaps, and “needs improvement” areas requiring immediate action,
  • Summary of improvement opportunities and benefits,
  • A prioritized implementation plan of how to reinvent and align enterprise-wide operations,  including how to integrate and actually benefit from Digital transformation technology options, 
  • Quantified baseline performance, improvement goals, and performance expectations,
  • An evaluation on leadership and organizational readiness, contingencies, and barriers to success. and
  • Guidance about how to lead, organize, and implement operational changes for rapid results.

Our goal is to help our clients translate their bold fuzzy vision into a more defined and actionable state (Jobs To Be Done), and provide guidance on defining and structuring Lighthouse Pilot needs in their transformation journey.  The diagnostic also includes how to integrate the right digital technologies into transformation initiatives.  Once there is executive consensus on our findings and priorities, we assist our clients in the detailed leadership, technical mentoring, and successful implantation of Lighthouse Pilot efforts, and/or overall guidance on the broader transformation journey.  Our proven approach helps clients achieve a higher and faster rate of success by what we refer to as No Doubt” execution.

Organizations can benefit significantly from identifying and leveraging the most critical factors for improving operational infrastructure quickly and logically.  The results of the diagnostic provide a collaborative outside-in strategy, plan, priorities, and quantified benefits for moving forward quickly toward achieving breakthroughs in operating performance.

If clients choose to work with us further on integration and execution, we are available at rates typically 50%+ less than larger consulting firms.  Our model is to work with you I-on-1 while rapidly engaging people and developing competencies in your own organization.  But CEO’s larger difference is proven implementation successes and documented ROIs.  CEO has a solid reputation for practical, experience-based, predictable, reliable, executable results, not reports.  We have a long and successful track record of helping clients achieve 10X+ ROI on our services through the details of Collaborative ExecutionImplementing change, realizing the benefits, and sustaining the gains.  Your success is our success!


 We Strive For “No Doubt” Operations

The objective of CEO’s Operational Transformation Diagnostic is to align and improve operational infrastructure, and guide clients toward a “No Doubtoperating model.  The operating side of the business must be able to respond to marketing, competitive, customer, or internal changes – With “no doubt” that their actions will achieve successful outcomes.  Organizations that learn how to develop their own “No Doubt” operating model eliminate the gaps between business strategy, commercial strategy, financial plans, and operational execution – And emerge as the leaders and superior performers in their markets.


Postponement Kills!  So Let’s Talk . . . It’s free, no obligations, no sales pitches.


All organizations are constantly bombarded with new risks, opportunities, fears, and challenges.  If left unchecked, these can take root in the form of significant waste, cost, poor operating performance, unhappy customers, and lost competitive position.  There are many larger branded consulting firms, and unlimited technology options for assistance with their formulation-based approaches to change. Recognize that there is also a severe shortage of experienced, practitioner-guided professionals who understand how to adapt, execute, and achieve breakthrough success with change.  In this economy you can’t afford to be wrong, too late, or inefficient.  If you don’t overcome your limitations, you will be overcome by stronger competitors.

Let’s turn this post into a live discussion.  We are passionately engaged in this business every day, helping clients in a variety of different industries with a spectrum of operating issues to identify and adapt new solutions to these challenges.  There is nothing to be lost and everything to gain by discussing your own operating challenges and issues with us.  Give us the opportunity to become your friend and trusted professional advisors.  The best time to improve is today!

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We will be happy to discuss how we can guide your organization on a swift renewed and successful course of action.