Four CEOs Share How Technology and Processes Powered Their Scaling Journeys

Celebrating the success of our users motivates the work we do at Align.

We love to hear stories of accomplishments made possible by the implementation of good business habits using Align. 

So we were excited to co-host a panel discussion this past month with Greater New Orleans, Inc. and NOLA Brewing Company.  The panel featured leaders in our local New Orleans entrepreneurial ecosystem who’ve found success using good business habits in conjunction with Align’s technology. 

The discussion, hosted by Erik Frank, President of EO Louisiana, focused on the intersection of strategic planning, communication, and technology at rapidly growing businesses. 

Each of the panelists represented companies who have significantly grown their business operations over the past few years and implemented new processes to help manage the execution of their aggressive strategic plans.

Read on for highlights from the discussion and valuable lessons from CEOs who’ve been through it. 

How has your strategic planning process changed over the last five years?

Ryan Mouledous, President Broadmoor Construction: In the past, we were working almost exclusively on building. In construction, you never know what is coming next. Now, as an executive team, we’re almost exclusively focused on the business. I made the decision that if I’m gonna work on this business, I need to get out of the day to day of the business. I am in a better place personally and professionally than I was 18 months ago and it is exclusively because of the commitment we made organizationally to doing it. 

Beth Winkler, Owner of Magnolia Physical Therapy: In the past, we would set these astronomical goals, at the end of the year we would reflect and usually say, “that fell short.” We never had an ongoing strategy of how we were going to follow through with our plan for the rest of the year. The change has been tracking our progress and priorities. It’s not just the 4 or 5 executives, its the entire management team. They manage their department and their areas, and we easily see progress in our daily huddles and track the process of executing on our plans.

Gavin Langston, SVP Technology Fidelity Bank Lousiana: Our biggest change has been to ditch the binder mentality. Instead of checking once a quarter on how things are doing, it’s checking every day or every week on process.

Larry Closs, CEO MaxHome: Strategic planning is almost always the same for us. What has changed is that we have a plan for executing the plan. Where we’re struggling now is awareness of the plan.  We have 15 executives that set the plan and goals and what they need to do to execute the plan.  However, not everyone under them knows what the plan is. We’re in the process of figuring out how do we cascade that plan down all the way through our teams, and not cascade just the tactical things they need to execute down the line.

How do you get messaging about your strategic plans down the organization and alive in your organization?

Beth Winkler: Especially as we scaled and grew this emerged as a big problem of how we get the strategic message down four levels. We made our quarterly goal into a game. We had our top key performance indicator that was set and got the whole team focused on hitting it. Our KPI this past quarter was leads, so we did this whole horse theme, everyone had a horse and acquired points as they got leads.

What are the strategic goals you’re working on right now?

Ryan Mouledous: We’re working towards repeatable, consistent control over operations. The first thing you have to understand is what are you trying to do. In construction it’s not just trying to build a building its why are we here. Its bigger than core values and purpose. We sometimes lose the aspirational aspect of core values, and we lose sight of what we actually are. 

We’ve broken strategy down in three elements, with a cascading element we break into huddles. These are: Firstly, make sure projects are running correctly, second is sales and business development huddle, third is more abstract and that’s our business venture huddle. This huddle entails strategic thinking in that the focus is beyond the next construction project, its focus is “are we doing enough so that 3-5 years from now we have a successful business?”. 

The key that we’ve learned from Rockefeller Habits and the software, is this plan can’t be something we only visit every 90 days. That doesn’t sound profound, but I had to check my ego enough to be in that huddle every day even though it didn’t feel natural at first. Once we got past the ego part of that, our whole organization transformed. Strip it down to the basic component parts, and let that take you where you already know you’re gonna go. 

Beth Winkler: One of our main strategic priorities was getting the owners in the right seats. We were all working in the business without any guidelines on responsibilities. For so long our focus was on patients, patients, patients. Now we’re looking to make sure all our employees are happy and in the right seats. 

Gavin Langston: What’s big right now is the use of data. Its analyzing processes and optimizing for efficiency. The next evolution of that is investing in workflow management tools. Beyond that its automation. 

Larry Closs: We have 2 main strategic priorities right now. One is employee retention, which goes all the way from interviewing to enhancing education in our internal university. The second one is tech. We’re looking at 5-10 years from now where we need to be in terms of tech. Everything from CRM to accounting which as you can imagine is a challenge now let alone figuring out what we’ll need in 5 years. 

If you have daily huddles, what do they look like in your company. How many people are in them, and what type of culture shock was it when your first rolled them out? 

Ryan Mouledous: Full disclosure, I spent 2.5 years at a different organization where they attempted a daily huddle routine. Every person on that call dreaded it. The content was self-promoting and not important things for the organization. So personally I had a bad taste in my mouth about calling in to tell everyone what I was working on and how I was progressing on it. 

Fast forward to proper implementation of the habits calibrated with real core purpose and values and now people see the why behind that call. When you identify these are the 4 or 5 things we’re focusing on this quarter, the updates become extremely informative. There are moments when I walk in a huddle, and I wonder if we’re losing momentum. Then I pause and listen to the content of what we talk about in a 15 minute period of time and we’ve shared information in that 15 minute period of time that we wouldn’t have shared in a month without the huddle. That has changed the way the organization runs. 

There’s a message in that that we’re so focused on phones and data but the camaraderie is truly the value of huddle. I think culturally we’ve created an environment where people want to contribute because we’re playing for a bigger picture.

Beth Winkler: When we first started the huddle it was very welcome because a lot of our directors are off-site. We’d received comments that there was not enough feedback from the top of the company. We had a monthly staff meeting spent on recognition but were not discussing the direction of the company. Everybody really likes it because they can see what the rest of the organization is doing. It brought everybody together to be a unified group. 

Larry Closs: We began with the management team and now cascade huddles all the way down. There was a little anticipation, but with in a week people were very excited about it. As CEO, I purposely participate in about 3 out of 5 per week so my team is comfortable running the meeting. That’s where Align becomes so important because even if you miss the meeting, everyone still enters their huddle update. That allows me to scroll through and see what everyone in the company is doing in just 5 minutes. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how a comprehensive software tool can help roll out a system goal planning and tracking in your business, join us for a demo of Align!

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