Deep dive into your business. Pull together all sorts of financial, sales, marketing, service, HR, policies, procedures, and the like for your team of peers to review. This preparation exercise in itself is often extremely valuable as it requires getting the house in order in many ways. The team then takes a look at things and comes up with some ideas about possible areas of concern, as well as things that need clarification. As is always the case, the numbers and prepared documents don’t tell the story, but they are a good place from which to start.
Begin by having them review your company from 50,000 feet. What are the mission, vision, values, and dream for the company? It should be part of your business plan. And your team of peers should know it. After we get on the same page about the immediate, mid, and long range goals, we have enough background to start walking through the deep dive process. Have your peers shadow your staff, and identify strengths and weaknesses (things internal to the company), as well as opportunities and threats (things that are external). Create a quadrant with these four sections and have your peer group start making a list for each.
Invite your staff (minus you and any other executive management) to review the list of Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats. This is where you will get the real scoop. They will give some great feedback – some additions to the list, some challenges to things that were listed, and likely, very interactive discussion. This is also an interesting way to find the leaders of the pack and those who are focused on helping drive the company forward. Obviously, you must offer immunity from any retaliation from the management in exchange for raw and uncensored honesty. It is amazing what every team tells a group of interested outsiders that they would never tell their management.
Then your peers can spend an afternoon shadowing and doing some follow up digging on things that were uncovered through the previous process. Since they are going to make some rather large suggested changes – it is critical they have their facts right. Once they have identified the issues, they can craft a plan to overcome those things, utilizing the talent and resources available. It is one thing to figure out what is broken. It is another to come up with an execution plan to fix the issues. So spending time with your staff is critical for your peers to know what can and can’t be depended upon. End the day with a review of the findings and make a list of the top three items that need attention.
Day two begins with getting the feedback from our overnight thoughts. My experience is that your peers will keep thinking through the night about the areas they are going to offer suggestions about, and often those sleepless hours and the ongoing pondering through the night has created some very insightful ideas. Much of the second day involves building our recommendations and reviewing those with you and your management team. It doesn’t do a lot of good to leave a plan that management is not willing to execute.
The plan your peer group assembles will almost certainly tweak many areas and touch everyone, so it’s important that everyone in your business understands and are bought into the strategy. This is the chance to build excitement and anticipation of great things ahead. The reality is that when you end this deep dive process, your staff is ready to get going on it, and the risk is that your management does not move quickly enough. Execution is not optional – everyone is bought in and expecting it to happen – so now it boils down to getting it done.
Doing a deep dive is about more than business, it is about achieving dreams and accomplishing plans for both business and life. But it really boils down to the team taking on the challenge and making it happen. That is what happens when great people come together to get it done.