Stage III – Build On The Foundation

Stage III – Build On The Foundation

The town of Margaux is a small collection of homes and shops surrounded by incredible vineyards and elegant Chateaux.  It is the home of some of the worlds greatest wineries, including Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Cantenac, Chateau Razan Segla and a host of other well known produces of fabulous (and expensive) wines.  People here work hard tending the vines and going about their daily tasks in a quiet, peaceful and diligent way that is quintessential of small town life in France.  It is here that my friend owns a wine store, located in the heart of town, directly across from the Marie – city hall.

It is not uncommon for large trucks to pass through Margaux.  After all, this is a working town and the business of fine wine is the lifeblood of the community.  Large trucks, trains and small delivery vehicles mix with luxury sports cars and mopeds as the town goes about it daily routine.  When one large truck stopped at my friends wine store and caused a scene big enough for the mayor to come out of his office and the townspeople to open their windows to see what was happening, it was a strange event in Margaux.

Wine is picked up and delivered every day in Margaux.  The large trucks and the small delivery vehicles know their way around the little streets and are familiar with parking in small places.  On this particular day the driver of the eighteen-wheeler was in a foul mood and didn’t like where he had to park, so he stopped his truck in the middle of the street.  He exited his truck walked into my friends shop, loudly announced that he was there to pick up some wine for me and demanded that my friend load the cases onto his truck immediately.

My friend runs a boutique wine store and had customers in the store at the time and explained to the driver that he would have to wait a few moments.  The driver became incensed and began yelling and cursing as the conversation moved outside and they began to load the wine.  This is when the mayor came out of his office and the local residents began to gawk.

My friend calmly explained that this was inappropriate behavior, the truck was loaded and the wine was delivered.  Then I got the call.

I had contracted with the shipping company to pick up my wine in France and deliver it to the United States.  The representative for the company in Philadelphia is a great guy who has helped me tremendously as I have come up the learning curve of government regulation in importing wine.  He is a high quality individual who I have tremendous respect for.  I met the CEO of the company and was impressed with him also and felt I was dealing with a highly professional organization.  But this was their driver and my friend wanted to know if we could use another shipper because he didn’t want to deal with this kind of driver again.  It wasn’t important to my friend that I liked the rep in Philadelphia, or that the company had a good management team.  He wanted a new shipper so he could deal with a better driver.

The third stage of a turnaround is to “Build On The Foundation. “ Once you have “Cleaned up the Mess,” and “Laid a Foundation,” it is time for you to “Build Upon that Foundation.”  In the first stage you dealt with the endemic and systemic problems and the people who were resistant to change.  In the second stage you assembled the right team – got the right people on the bus and in the right seats.  The third stage involves permeating the vision and values you and your team have established throughout the entire organization – all the way to the guys driving the trucks.

I like the picture of “right people on the bus and in the right seats,” but for most organizations the vehicle is more like a train than a bus.  There are a lot of people (they wouldn’t fit on a bus) and you actually need the right people in every car of the train.  What happens at the back of the train – far away from the activity of driving the train – is as important as what happens in the front of the train where the management team meets.  Building on the foundation means that every person in the organization – no matter where they are on the train – is going in the same direction, with the same vision, the same core values, and the same strategy of how to get there.

Your job as a leader is to implement the values, vision and strategy throughout your entire organization.  Every problem is a people problem.  Every solution is a people solution.  Every business is a people business.  The number one job of every leader is to lead the people – all the people – even the one’s driving the trucks.

About the author / bobperkins

Latest comments

  • Justin Jackson
    September 23, 2009 at 2:46 pm Reply

    Great thoughts Bob. I think that “getting the right people on the train” is a MUCH more powerful metaphor than “on the bus.” It seems to fit most organizations more succinctly.

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