In this episode, Josh talks with Carey Rome CEO of Cypress Resources. They talk about why innovation is the key to sustainability.
Carey L. Rome is a management consultant and leadership expert with more than 15 years of experience developing and driving strategic projects. He helps business leaders make growth plans happen.
Carey is a recovering CPA who somehow can manage both left and right brain activities. Admittedly, right brain activities are where Carey thrives.
In today’s episode you will learn:
- Why is innovation the key to long-term sustainability?
- Should blue-collar businesses adopt Agile Technologies in their planning?
- Can you solve the world’s problems in a conference room?
- Why can’t the people who manage your business also be involved in innovating the business?
- How to have separate people who are innovators and managers get along?
Narrator: Welcome to The Sustainable Business Radio Show podcast where you’ll learn not only how to create a sustainable business but you’ll also learn the secrets of creating extraordinary value within your business and your life. In The Sustainable Business, we focus on what it’s going to take for you to take your successful business and make it economically and personally successful. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he’s learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick. You are at The Sustainable Business. Our guest today is Carey Rome. He refers to himself as a recovery CPA. He is the owner of Cypress Resources. He does some pretty interesting things with businesses. I thought he’d make a good guest for us today. Let’s bring him on.
Hey, Carey. How are you today?
Carey: Josh, I’m doing wonderful. Thanks for having me as a guest.
Josh: Tell me something. I think I know the answer to this but I’ll ask you anyhow. Why is innovation the key to long-term sustainability?
Carey: Oh, my gosh. Well, I’m just a firm believer that if you’re not innovating, you’re not growing. If you have an excellent business and you stop innovating, someone’s catching up to you. I like to refer it, as you mentioned, a CPA. That’s my yes. I call that my yes. Meaning, there’s a lot of people that have that technical skill but my and is that something special that clients know me. I’m not a practicing CPA anymore but it’s your technical ability plus you and. That and is always that something extra that people look to you for.
For example, Salesforce and sales CRM. Salesforce, there’s plenty of CRM solutions out there, right, but Salesforce has got a yes and they have a CRM. They have an and that people say, “I want to work with that company.” I think that’s just constant innovation. Before Salesforce started, there were plenty of CRM tools out there. They just weren’t very good and they weren’t innovative.
Josh: They were all, basically, based on your computer hosting it. I think, Salesforce was the first CRM to do it in the cloud.
Josh: As a result, they could iterate much faster.
Carey: Exactly. Think about all the other businesses– or think about how many businesses that said, a long time ago, “Well, the cloud, it won’t work because”. They stacked up all the reasons why things would not work and why they couldn’t innovate versus continuing to try to find ways to innovate, to bring new things to your customers and find a way to do it, so where you don’t risk too much but you test the market.
Josh: Yeah, that makes sense. It’s sort of just like one of my favorite mantras is a thing I call, “Fail fast, fail cheap”–
Carey: Yeah, cheap.
Josh: –which I stole from Doug Hall who is a brilliant innovative guy.
Because Sales force went into the clout from day 1, they built all their software using Agile Technologies which means they could rapid iteration and testing to make sure, every two or three weeks, what it is they were working on actually solved the problem.
Josh: Google does it. In fact, that’s the way all software is developed today. I’ve been maintaining it for several years now that blue-collar businesses, like contractors, if they were to adopt Agile Technologies in their planning, would blow their competition out of the water.
Carey: Yeah. Josh, I’m glad you brought that up because I was driving home the other day and I saw a work truck. It had a ladder on it. It was someone that worked for a contractor with a truck full of tools and full of equipment. I thought to myself, “At some point, someone is going to create a business, when we have driverless vehicles, where all you do is rent out the equipment. You let them know where the location is. The workers show up there and their equipment shows up. At the end of the day, the equipment that is not returned back to the truck, there’s going to be a charge for that.” That’s a great business model for someone, one day. That’s a point of innovation. The inefficiency of owning all of the tools and dispersing your own vehicles and the risk of that driver – that’s a point of innovation. It’s always trying to find a better way. You look at that particular industry who might say, “Well, technology, I don’t know how that would impact my business.”
Josh: It’d impact their business in lots of ways, but I think what you’ve described to me is probably a good 10, 15, or maybe 20 years off.
Carey: Sure. Maybe, right? Think about Uber. Uber came on pretty fast. Uber could be– unless they own cars, all of their drivers could be, in five years, it might not need drivers.
Josh: That’s more likely than the contracting example you just gave, I think. Contractors don’t own their big equipment right now. They’ve been renting it for years.
Carey: Well, sure, but a ladder and– not the big, big equipment but the equipment that’s within a small truck.
Josh: Yeah. Well, that’ll be interesting to see. Most of the contractors I know—for example, the carpenters actually own their own tools.
Carey: Yeah. Yeah. Well—
Josh: And they drag their tools with them. That’s definitely true in an auto shop.
Carey: Well, it sounds like you know that better than me.
Josh: Yeah. Well, my specialty is blue-collar businesses so.
Carey: Okay. Okay.
Josh: I used to own one myself and hang around in them a lot.
What do you mean by, “You can’t solve the world’s problems in a conference room”?
Carey: I’m a firm believer. Well, behind me, you can see there’s a whiteboard.
Carey: I do my work with clients on a whiteboard, on a call like this. I unpack a lot of information on a whiteboard. It’s just the way I think. However, in a conference room, whether there’s a whiteboard or not, a lot of businesses have a thinking session without an action section, without a steps to take the thinking section and actually put it into motion. That’s what I mean by, “You can’t solve the problems by theory and concepts”. You have to also have a system and a way to actually push it into the organization so things get done.
Josh: My experience with business owners is pretty similar to that. I find that most business owners are reasonably good at thinking strategically and they’re terrible at acting strategically.
Carey: Yes. Yes.
Josh: In other words, they think it, and they think it, and they think it. And because they thought it, they think they’ve actually done it.
Carey: Even if they have done it with a select group of the executives, thinking you’re on the same page and actually translating that down to your team is difficult. I’ll give you an example. I worked with an executive last year. He said, “Hey, Carey, I met with my executive a team back in May and we were all on the same page about this specific topic but we’re having difficulty getting it out of our heads and really push down to the team.” I said, “Okay. Well, great. Let’s do a working session.”
The first step in the working session, I talked to all the executives and I started with, “My understanding is that each of you are clear as to the direction for the next five years. You’re just having trouble with getting it out of your head, into your team. Why don’t we start by telling me your understanding individually?” We spent an hour and a half clarifying what they thought was already clarified, right?
Carey: And so, to your point, that executive session, that board room session, that conference room session – without a system to take it and put it into motion, is really an exercise in helping you feel good about thinking but there’s a lot of action to be done.
Josh: That sort of reminds me of Gino Wickman’s mantra of “getting everybody on the same page”. For me, that starts with values in a company. First of all, do you have values? Are they clearly articulated with a clarifying statement?
Carey: Right, yeah.
Josh: When I teach seminars, I used to play this game called the picnic game where I put people, groups of eight to ten, and I say, “Write down the first 10 words that come to your mind about the word picnic, or vending, or money – whatever they all had in common.” And then, I had them compare their list to see how many of those eight or ten people all had the same word. Maybe one word or two words would be the same but I also had a bunch of times where zero words were the same. If I say to you, “personal responsibility is really important” and that’s a driving principle of our business, unless I define what personal responsibility is, you’re not going to really know what I’m talking about. For me, that’s a great place to start.
What you’re saying is that you think that people are should be actually solving the problems in the shop floor and not in the conference room?
Carey: Well, I think you need to have a plan to take it from the conference room to the shop floor.
Josh: Right. What would that plan look like?
Carey: We’ve got a system that we’ve developed. It’s called addux. It means go guide in Latin.
Carey: What we do is we take it from the highest level of the organization. What’s the one thing that you want to accomplish over the next 12 months? Then, we break that down into three 90‑day digestible key results and goals that we want to achieve. And then, we further break those down into three projects that we can accomplish within 90 days. Now, the project is just the content of the situation. The content of the situation is that 90-day key result that they’re trying to achieve. And then, we break it down further by, “Who is going to own it?” A timeline of what they will need to actually achieve it. And then, “How will we measure our success?”
You start by doing that at the highest level. If you’re the CEO of a company, that is your 12-month objective. Each of those three steps, more than likely, you’re going to have someone on your team that you are going to assign that to. What is a key result that your CFO or your COO needs to achieve – they’re responsible for? That becomes their 12-month objective.
And then, you repeat the process for each executive. And then, you repeat the process for each level underneath that. As you do that, you’re cascading where you want to take the organization and you’re mapping it all the way down to the work that needs to get done.
Josh: Carey, which size organizations do you work with?
Carey: Well, I would say we’ve worked with some small organizations, under 5 million. More than likely, 25 million and up.
Josh: Okay. I thought that because the complexity that you’re put into your system is really difficult to have with a 25-person company. It’s a lot more difficult for the 25-person company to do that because the business skills and the business training and the project management skills typically don’t exist at that level.
Carey: Well, you bring up a good point. Really, all you need is one to start getting your team on the same page.
Carey: If you just start with the one, corporate level, and then you assign that, I hear you. Project managers are typically something that you see in larger organizations. I’m actually not a huge fan of project managers—
Josh: I’m talking about project management, not project managers.
Carey: Yeah and we don’t do project management.
Josh: Well, actually, you are because when you do an overarching goal, when you cascade it down, that’s project management.
Carey: Now, you’re talking probably more program management than a project management.
Josh: This is where we get into definitions a little bit [laughs].
Carey: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, I think the difference is, in larger organizations, when I talk to them, they define if there’s a– “Hey, we have what you do.” It’s more of program management. I think of product management as managing tasks.
Josh: Oh, okay.
For me, project management is managing strategies within a specific technology, if you’re doing so.
I have another question for you. When you’re doing this planning, it appears to me that a lot of this is what’s called waterfall planning where you’re planning out a whole bunch of stuff with dependencies and you can use PERT charts for this or whatever you want to. The problem I have with that sort of planning is that as soon as one dependency goes out of whack, the whole plan goes out of whack.
What I find is that a lot of businesses are planning too much, too big, instead of taking their whole project and breaking it out, putting it to what’s called backlog. And then, moving out of backlog into production, enough stuff for two or three weeks so you can do it quickly. That’s what agile planning is all about. That’s how software is developed today.
When I hear what you’re doing, I’m saying to myself, “Okay. I think it’s one of the reasons that big businesses have a hard time standing up with small business.”
Carey: Which piece?
Josh: The year planning and being very specific about what you’re doing over that period of time. Maybe I’m missing something here.
Carey: Well, we don’t do the projects. We define the project. We’re doing it high enough where we’ve got someone that’s responsible for driving that objective. And then, we’re constantly tweaking that. When you mentioned dependencies at a project level, we’re not worried about that. We understand that business is you have to be more nimble than that. We’re not over-engineering project management so that it trips up what we’re trying to achieve. It’s actually quite the opposite.
Josh: Here’s something interesting you wrote here. I’m going to switch gears a little bit. “The people you hire to manage your business are different from the people you’ll need to help innovate the business.” Why can’t the people who manage your business also be involved in innovating the business?
Carey: Well, some of them actually can but, most often, the people that you hire, they’re designed to follow a process and a system that’s been well laid out. You want them to follow that and manage it very, very well. Those type of peopled think a little bit differently than the people that are okay starting with a whiteboard and getting it to the point where it’s ready to be managed.
Josh: How do you have a company where you have separate people who are innovators and managers get along and not have like an open warfare?
Carey: [laughs] Well, we could take that a bunch of different places. I think the appreciation for each other’s role is most important.
Josh: I agree with you 100% with what you just said. How do we get especially the managers to appreciate the role of the innovators? What do you do to get these folks to do that? In my experience, that’s a really hard thing to do.
Carey: Well, I would not force managers to be a part of the innovation process too early.
Josh: Well, but it doesn’t really matter when you bring them in. You’re going to ask them to make changes.
Carey: Oh, yeah. Well, yeah and change is hard.
Josh: People who follow structure, in my experience, are change resistant.
Carey: You are correct.
Josh: How you get over that?
One of the things I sort of like doing is getting these managers involved in the change planning [inaudible 00:14:56], at least in my experience. Again, I work with smaller businesses than you do, so it sort of has to be the same. We don’t have innovators and managers. The innovator typically is the owner.
Carey: Well, that’s who I work with.
Josh: Right. The owner needs to find a way to help people accept change without rebelling.
Carey: Right. And so, what I say is, “Bring that to a point where the concept’s proven and now we need to tighten it up so that it can be managed.” That’s when you bring in management.
When I said earlier, “Don’t bring management in too early”, if they’re rigid to a process, all you’ll get is the stack of reasons why it won’t work.
Carey: And we understand that the original assumptions, they’re probably not 100% accurate. Most often, they’re not but that shouldn’t prevent us from trying.
Josh: Yup. Okay.
Again, we’re at the point where we’re going to introduce these changes to my managers. How do we get them to buy in?
Carey: Once it’s already proven, now we need them to incorporate this into the existing process. So, you’re saying, “Hey, here’s what we’ve been working on. We’ve proven it out so it’s something that we need to incorporate into the organization. You know this process better than anyone, help us incorporate this into the existing process.”
Josh: Okay. The small changes, I think, that’s kind of easy to do. What happens when you’re making a big process where you’re basically going to scrap what you’ve been doing and change to something else or what they call a pivot in Silicon Valley?
Carey: I don’t necessarily recommend that model. I recommend that you do it more slowly. I mean, I just rip off the Band-aid and go a different way, I think, is really disruptive so I don’t know that I would recommend that way.
Josh: Yeah. I think I would agree with you on that. That was my—[laughs]. I don’t think that’s a great idea because those who are running your company on a regular basis are not interested, usually, in having a brand-new way of doing it.
Carey: No. Yeah.
I wrote a LinkedIn post today. I quoted a billionaire. He was talking about everybody has slumps in business. He’s an investor. What he does is, when he feels himself not hitting – think about it as a baseball player if you’re hitting without confidence. If you’re not hitting with confidence, he says, “He doesn’t swing for the fence.” He starts like he’s bunting just so he can get back in a rhythm. Once he gets back into the rhythm of things, that’s when he actually has earned the right to swing for the fence. I think it’s pretty similar in business.
Josh: Yeah. I would say that probably makes some sense to me.
Hey, Carey. We are, unfortunately, out of time so [laughs].
Carey: Well, I’ve enjoyed it.
Josh: That’s good. Me, too. I hope I haven’t been too cranky today.
Carey: Oh, no. No. Good discussion.
Josh: How would people find you and what would they get when they do so?
Carey: Well, I just mentioned LinkedIn. I’m very active on LinkedIn. I post every day some sort of blog or video, just helping business owners get out of their head and into a system so they can actually start taking action. I would say LinkedIn.
If anybody wants to contact me directly, they can email email@example.com.
Josh: Cool. Can they go to cypressresources.com to learn more about what you do?
Josh: Okay, great.
I also have an offer for you. I have this program which I call Cracking the Cash Flow Code. There’s one thing that I can say that all business owners have in common is that they are constantly worried they’re going to run out of cash. I don’t care how much cash they have. This program is actually helped to design you one – if you don’t have enough cash, learn how to create enough cash; if you do have enough cash, to learn how to appropriately use that cash. It’s really easy to get. We have an infographic that shows the five stages of cash flow freedom. Underneath this podcast, you’ll see a button, just click on it and you’ll get it.
This is Josh Patrick. We’ve been with Carey Rome. You’re at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You’ve been listening to The Sustainable Business podcast where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?” If you like what you’ve heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 ext 2, or visit us on our website at www.askjoshpatrick.com, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening. We hope to see you at The Sustainable Business in the near future.