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Before You Crash And Burn, Try A Restart


When I bought my home, it was a hot mess. While it had beautiful mature trees, a stunning lot and incredible structural integrity, it also had purple toilets, scratched and dented floors as well as windows so old the wind blew right through!

I had the option of tearing the whole thing down and starting with a fresh canvas but there was too many great elements I wanted to keep. So I chose to renovate. Room-by-room and floor-by-floor I persistently worked to alter the parts that needed it while maintaining those that have withstood the test of time. A couple years later, I have a beautiful home that while contemporary and style-savvy also contains classical elements that can’t be replicated.

When I was appointed CEO of Roma Moulding, I faced a similar decision. We were doing some things great, some all right and others were dragging us down. Should I renovate the business and build upon the amazing structural integrity that was in place? Or would I be better off tearing it down and starting from scratch?

While there was much that needed improving, altering or all together scrapping, I opted to restart versus starting over.

Restart: To start again or anew, to get going or set in motion, a rebirth.

Restarting was a monumental event and entirely necessary. I had legitimate fear when I announced my intentions to our Board and leaders. Just like when I first stepped into my home, I was worried that I had bitten off more than I could chew.

Having a sound strategy is vital to the success of your restart. You wouldn’t just walk into your home with a sledgehammer one day and start banging away. You need to plan what you are going to do and when. Do you start with the windows or carpeting? What happens after you renovate the bathrooms? Take it bit-by-bit at first. At Roma, our restart is a five-year to lifetime culture strategy.

A restart isn’t for everyone. When you change the game rules you’ll notice a wide variety of reactions. Some will love the new rules and want to stay, some will be on the fence and some will go kicking and screaming.

Those that love the new direction will jump for joy and say, “Yes! I knew you guys had it in you!” These people will become your ambassadors in your restart. The people on the fence will be wondering if the changes are permanent or will all the talk of happiness at work just disappear after six months. Then there are those who dig their heels in and protest that they’re not going to change. Don’t fret about them too much; the new culture will weed these people naturally.

“A bigger business is like a cruise ship: There are lots of amenities and you can go a lot further, but it’s harder to turn quickly,” Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com.

When planning a restart, you need to be real and ask yourself the following three questions:

What’s working well? What is kind of working? What’s not working at all?

The stuff that’s working well, park it and improve it later. With the stuff that’s not working, get the consensus needed to kill it. If 7 out of 10 want to kill it, then get rid of it.

The stuff in the middle, get everyone you need in a room and hold a forum where there are no right or wrong answers to figure out how it can immediately begin to improve. We noticed more often than not, we had to kill the stuff in the middle. It worked but only because it was supported by antiquated systems that wouldn’t be around much longer. Once we updated our environment, much of the stuff in the middle was destined to die.

A restart is your best opportunity to drastically change the direction, policies and people that will allow your business to reach new heights.

Here are my three most important tips when strategizing a restart:

  1. Based on our Family Core Value #9: Deliver transparent, open and honest communication; you’ll need to be clear and concise when announcing your intentions. Your ability to articulate why you are restarting and how it will improve your company to your leaders, Board members, partners and suppliers is vital to having people share your vision
  2. Assess your team: Quickly determine who’s on the team. Do they share your core values and the passion needed to succeed? If not, start searching for them, they are out there
  3. Evaluate what’s working: Place everything you do into one of three areas – what’s working great, what’s kind of working and what’s dead in the water.

For further great insights on reshaping your business, check out Jack: Straight From The Gut by Jack Welch

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