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Starting the conversation:
When we mess up, we want others to remember we are human. That means we must do the same. The way we show up in the face of adversity tells others a lot about us. Use the information shared in this episode to critically and realistically look at the way you act, what you say, and how you show up to lead change. Decide what you must do to recommit and realign your thoughts and actions to what is necessary, in order to successfully execute your strategic plan.
You will hear how the Teabag Principle, the Character Matrix, and reflection are necessary to navigate change. It is the resilience that is built from tirelessly facing change that will create shared values to get the right work done at the right time. Jess Dewell talks with John Robertson, President at FORTLOG Services, about leading through organizational change.
Three questions to ask yourself and your leadership team are part of the FORTLOG Services Character Matrix. As you decide to embrace day-to-day change, you build resilience to face the expanding challenges and changes that your company will go through. John Robertson, President at FORTLOG Services, imparts how pivotal shared values are to the success of organizational change.
Host: Jess Dewell
Guests: John Robertson
What You Will Hear:
What really happens when the plan doesn’t go according to plan.
We choose our constraints, and that allows us to prepare how to show up to change.
Building teams require passion and values and an understanding that change will happen.
Teabag principle explained.
Define values descriptively, even add metrics: what they look and sound like as well as the results of using values to do the work.
The importance of a safe work environment.
The goal of the FORTLOG Services Character Matrix.
John Robertson 00:03
If we want success, what does it mean? Historically it meant acquire. Now, that acquiring is kind of gone the way of the dinosaur of the dodo.
Welcome. This is the Bold Business Podcast. Your business has many directions it can travel, the one true direction of your company creates the journey for you to move toward a new, exciting level. We call this the Red Direction. In today’s program, we delve into one idea. The idea will support you as you work on ever-present situations, including how to stay competitive in a changing market, how to break through the business plateau, and how to anticipate the changing expectations of your stakeholders. Just the will is your guide, just brings you a 20-year track record of business excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place, your unique TrueNorth. Now, here’s Jess,
Jess Dewell 00:51
hey, build business subscribers and listeners I have to tell you, I have to tell you that when we think about what’s going on in our lives that nobody else knows or understands what’s going on in somebody else’s life that we can’t even glean. All we can do is recognize that we may have the whole story, and we may not. And that means change is afoot. Change is afoot foot in so many ways that we can’t even imagine, we can’t even understand sometimes yet. We face it every day. We don’t like to we like these big cosmic two-by-fours to be like, ooh, we have to change. But no, in reality, we don’t have to do that. And that’s actually a pretty cool, great and an amazing, amazing opportunity for us to go, well how do we show up to change every day? How do we actually see what there is to see how do we be our best amidst all of that? How do we, how do we have Dewey and you know, John Robertson is here with me today? And he is the founder and president of Fort flogs services, he built the services with a focus on encouragement based approaches that resolve root causes, as opposed to just treating the crisis or the change, because there’s always something underneath that actually is indicative of the response we have to that crisis to that change. And so through his expensive, expensive, maybe, but definitely expensive.
John Robertson 02:19
Oh, well played. Yeah, nice Freudian.
Jess Dewell 02:24
Oh, thank you. All of these experiences, the diversity that he has of working in all different areas, he’s going to be sharing just smidgen of that with us today. John, thank you for being part of the Bold Business Podcast.
John Robertson 02:40
Well, it’s my honor to be here. And Jess, I gotta say, that is the most extensive way I have been introduced. So that’s great.
Jess Dewell 02:49
Okay, I’m not even going to ask what extensive means. I’m just going to take it as a compliment and be like …
John Robertson 02:54
No, it was, I was just doing the extensive, expensive because there’s …
Jess Dewell 02:58
Oh, thank you. Play on my Yes. And you’ll learn if you ever, you know when you listen to some other shows, I always have a little flub up here or there.
John Robertson 03:08
And most of the human species.
Jess Dewell 03:11
Exactly. And it’s how we respond to that, right? Absolutely. We just kind of, well, I guess, we all put clothes on today, we all probably had something to eat unless we’re fasting for some reason. And we all have the intention of showing up to be our best selves every day. And when we have that in common, we can go far.
John Robertson 03:30
Absolutely. And, and let’s be honest, that’s one of the most important and you use the word because part of what we have to be mindful of every day, we have a choice to respond or react. And that’s going to be the most fundamental core of any single thing, a person or an organization does, whether it be change, whether it be crisis, when it be that plan did not go according to plan. And maybe it’s never happened in your life, but it mine is almost and, and so what happens is, there’s only two choices, react or respond. And they’re very, very different. Both are normal. Both are normal human reactions. But one’s progress one’s not.
Jess Dewell 04:22
Oh, I was gonna say is, so is there a third one? That’s like superhuman? Are we gonna get into the superhero?
John Robertson 04:27
No, because I’m a firm believer, honestly, Jess, I don’t know what you’re like. But I’ve met those people who have it all together. You know, they’re just perfect. Their life is perfect. Everything’s perfect. And I have absolutely zero in common with them. And it’s like, what are we going to talk about because my life I got a great life. Don’t misinterpret me, but it’s not perfect. But what makes my life the ride we’re taking? Is this law Perfect?
Jess Dewell 05:00
Yeah, it’s so true. And going back to the humanist part, there’s this element of will, we create our own restraints. So if we don’t like where we’re at, and we’re not, we’re not evolving and showing up the best way that we can, maybe we need to consider the constraints that we chose.
John Robertson 05:19
Well, and, and this isn’t recommended for the faint of heart, parent, but I’m gonna move it over leadership, we’re planning discussion. And I used as parents, we used to get the phone call to say, I think I’m going to fail this test, I think I’m going to fail in university. I think I’m gonna fail this exam, I think I’m gonna fail. And Dad’s response was, Well, you know if you go into that exam thinking that way, you probably will. And one of two responses was, is mum there? Or is while I really studied for this, and I really know the content, okay, now we’re talking about nerves, yes. And nerves can make and you’ll see it at weddings all the time, the couples standing up front, doing their exchange of vows, and everything. And nerves make us do one of three things, or all three. They make us giddy. They make us tearful, or they make us brain dead. And sometimes you’ll see Holter I don’t know why I’m crying. And who are you? And, and what happens is in the workplace, if if you’re my supervisor, manager, boss, whatever. And you see me crying, and I don’t know why I’m crying. And I’m giddy because I don’t know why I’m crying. And you asked me, So how did that report get submitted? John, and I do the what report? Yeah, it’s yeah, just means I’m nerved. Up. And crisis, the fear reaction overrides any normal. Yeah, I got this. No problem. Not a big deal. All under control response?
Jess Dewell 07:06
Oh, well, there’s all kinds of places we could take this. I’m thinking about that. And I’m also recognizing, right, if we go back to the nerves piece, right, watching, whether we’re developing people, whether we’re guiding people, whether we’re parenting, sometimes lovingly, we’re being parented by our significant other.
John Robertson 07:29
It goes really well.
Jess Dewell 07:32
I think it can be typically lovingly but not always received that way. Yeah. In all of those, I think, oh, I don’t even know where I was going now. So hang on, let me see. Oh, was the well, we have to know ourselves first. Because when we watch somebody give up before they’ve really tried or sabotage themselves. So they have a way out. That to me, I don’t know how to solve that yet. Right. That’s something I’ve watched in companies. Since the beginning, and I am still human. There are times I sabotage myself along the way too. And I’m like, I can’t believe I did that. What was I thinking? Oh, I actually didn’t listen to the person who said, Hey, that might be a story. Right?
John Robertson 08:17
100% and, and part of what’s happening, and I can go right back to high school guidance counseling, and my kids think I went to school with granite and a chisel. I’m not that old. But. But guidance counseling still isn’t built around how people are wired, and how those things happen. And so what’s happening is, is that your end or my end? And, and so, what’s sorry, I heard some music in the background. And I was trying to think, okay, is that somebody from the clouds calling me but what’s happening is, if I don’t know how I’m wired, I will try and do the project your way. Yep. And, and there is no greater failure in life than succeed in a way that doesn’t matter to an individual in the long run, no greater failure. And so if I don’t understand how I’m wired, and that’s nature personality, Myers Briggs calls it type. If I don’t understand how I do things, and the values behind that, which is my motivation, the why I may never get around to honoring my passion. And it’s as a result, it’s very easy to sabotage ourselves. Because if you’re really good at Excel documents, or PowerPoint or whatever software, and I’m the one taking all the courses in it, and I still can’t do it, even after all my courses. I can beat myself up to say what’s the matter with me? Why am I so dumb? Why do I not get this When the real issue is chilling, you’re not wired to do that, right? play to your strengths, buffer your weaknesses.
You were listening to the Bold Business Podcast. We will return to the show soon. But first, I want to take a moment and give you a peek into what additional services and solutions you could access to Fast Track Your Business. This program was created to develop your capacity on demand by sharing insights, tips, as well as lessons learned by business leaders, unedited and uncut. And we don’t just stop there. There are three additional benefits to help you reach your growth goals. You will also have unlimited access to one, hearing tips and insights to develop yourself as a leader to get better results more often. Two, experiencing viewpoints from many different business leaders. Three, receiving frameworks to build core competencies and to more effectively focus on business growth and leadership. Altogether, The Fast Track Your Business program will allow you to face uncertainty, anytime, anywhere. You can access what will become your most versatile tool in your toolkit by going to FastTrackYou BusinessToday.com. Now back to Jess.
Jess Dewell 11:00
Well, I hear that and I can actually attest that on other people’s stages, right? If I am going to an event, and somebody has asked me to speak and they’ve said this is what I want from you. And I try and put everything that they want into what I say I am only a fraction as good as if I go good, I got that I know how to show up. And I show up from my preparation and my subjective and my view of the things. And so if I were to take that, in, let’s dig into that a little bit. When we hold up that mirror and we see are we doing it for ourselves? Are we doing it for another? There is that dance of why am I motivated? What am I doing? And then how do I actually do it in a way that will support somebody else’s goals without giving up our own uniqueness, our own identity in the process.
John Robertson 12:07
And what you put your finger on is the key. So passion speaks to the wearer. Values speaks to the why. And nature personality speaks to the how. And, and I don’t like I will never be an NHL or NFL coach. But I can tell you in hockey, I can tell you if I only have goalies on the ice, I’m probably not going to make it to the Stanley Cup. And so when we talk about an organizational context, the how is key to build the team around. So, John, this is what you’re really good at. Okay, Jess, this is what you’re really good at. Now, what are the pieces that were meal missing to field a great team? And by the way, that’s key in Crisis or change. Because there are some people who can see a way through the forest, in spite of all the trees as the cliche goes, but if they don’t know how to lead people, right, then the plan is not worth the paper it’s printed on. That’s right. That’s right. And the flip side is if, if I really love the plan, but I don’t know how to lead people, then I’m setting myself up for failure if I don’t get the right people around me.
Jess Dewell 13:51
So there’s so many things. And when you’re thinking about the right people and the team building, the how it sounds like it’s gonna come from the team, there’s gonna be this objective, we want to get to the Stanley Cup. And so and we’ve got these people, which means we have this resources, time, energy and creativity and all the stuff that goes with it. So in times of crisis, and in times of change, that are larger than the day to day, or maybe we’re dying in the day to day and we have to figure out how to get through this, this would apply here to what becomes, you know, what becomes the thing that we could ground into to make sure that we’re anchored so we don’t get lost in our forest.
John Robertson 14:41
Actually, the easiest solution and I call it the hot water teabag principle is your values and there’s always two sets in an organization. There’s the ones posted on the website, in the brochure, so on and so forth. Then there’s the ones that everybody He operates by, okay, and what happens in Crisis or change, it’s the ones that everybody operates by that leak out in hot water, aka hot water, tea bag effect or principle. And to anchor ourselves or to have a tetherball pole to pivot around, we have to have values that have three things, a value, a definition, and a description. And the description is the behaviors. So without getting into any context, right, I’ve never met anybody who said, I don’t have any integrity. I have worked with some people that I know we do not share the same definition of integrity. That’s funny. And so, therefore, what does?
Jess Dewell 16:02
Well, they know what integrity means. Now? I’m just curious. Yeah, I mean, honestly, is it part of their vocabulary, it could be they would never describe themselves as not having it because they don’t know. I’m sorry, I could be poking a scab here we don’t…
John Robertson 16:14
Well, and it’s a can of worms or Pandora’s box. I’m not biting. But what you put your finger on is key. And an organization has to spend the time creating those that is this what we want to leak out in hot water. Because when things hit the fan, there is an n, when things hit the fan, there’s no chance to rewrite the irony, the tragic irony, and this is, if we’re not prepared when we’re in before we’re in hot water, it can take two to five years afterwards, to get back to close to what we were before that change happened. And that doesn’t mean it’s grown. It just means we burned more time, talent and treasures over the last two to five years to get back to where we were years before.
Jess Dewell 17:15
So let’s set up a scenario here. And I’m basing it loosely on something from my past so that I can have a some concrete to work from acquire company, tell that company to grow. whole industry goes into recession, basically, whole industry collapses, resets. So when you think about this reset, you have recent acquisitions that are supposed to reach growth goals that now are even more impossible because of the change and the reset of an industry, if you will. But also the hot water teabag effect, the acquiring company was slowly getting growth by acquisition. And now what they were acquiring became useless. And how they showed up to that was very interesting. It was a lot of finger-pointing. There was a lot of well, we can’t do what you want us to do. There’s a lot of other things that happened in that. And then there was me who didn’t know any better. And I grew. I was wiry. I grew double digits, yeah, three years in a row. Right. But it’s because partly I didn’t know what I didn’t know. i But to your point about the values that seep through was, they had decided as a company, regardless of the day to day operations and the 1000s of people that they employed, their main growth strategy was acquisition. And now there was nothing to acquire. And so to your point about taking years, it took a lot of years to change that wiring, if you will, that conversation, to be able to go well, we have to be growing from the inside, in addition to adding on from the outside.
John Robertson 19:01
And what you’re perfectly describing is think about the money that got burned time, talent and treasures, not just money, but time and talents that got burned up trying to get back to a new norm baseline to grow from.
Jess Dewell 19:17
Right. Oh, that baseline? Well, okay, so let’s talk about a baseline for a minute, right? Wherever our baseline is. Now, we may or may not be thinking about worst-case scenario, it sounds like we don’t necessarily have to be thinking about worst-case scenario. Have to be pressure testing what we’re talking about, and seeing and really looking at, well, what do we have, so we can extrapolate when something bad happens? Here’s what our possible thing that we’re dealing with actually is so we’re going from a plethora of worst-case to an actual Well, these are this is actually what we’re working with. So where could the problems occur? And here is what I hear you saying.
John Robertson 19:58
But the end Yes, and The other part is I illustrated as a valley of chaos. So most people are familiar with the learning curve or the growth curve, and then it plateaus. And then it starts to decline. Yep. The valley between the decline and the new growth starting to take root, if you will, yeah. Is the Valley of chaos. And it’s in those valleys of chaos that organizations or leadership have to figure out. Okay. Why do we want to grow forward? What do these values mean? What does our focus mean? In this valley? So for example, go back to that example, you used success. Success is defined as acquiring. Yeah, in the valley of chaos, that success definition, definition of acquiring is no longer valuable. Right. So, therefore, without a definition of success, organizations get lost and those chaos. Yeah. And so, therefore, it might be the same value, right? The definition of success, but the definition now changes. So if we want success, what does it mean? Historically, it meant acquire, now, what acquiring isn’t really, it’s kind of gotten in the way of the dinosaur of the dodo. And so what does it mean for us now? Right?
Jess Dewell 21:31
And by the way, you know, I was telling my own horn just a little bit, but I really want to honor the work that went in as a whole, being able to have conversations me going, What do you mean, we can’t and somebody else going? Well, it’s not the way that it always has been. But we don’t really know what it is. And somebody else going, well, we have all of these cool things. What if we did this and somebody else is going well, what if we did that? And it’s from that combination of all of those things that what I hear you talking about in this valley, is when we can have that perspective, then all the best of everything, and the worst of everything, right? I mean, in my case, I was totally ignorant on a lot of things. And I look back and I go, Wow, I can’t believe I was, I was able to do the thing I needed to do, and had no knowledge that I didn’t have enough hindsight, I didn’t have enough knowledge, right. So it only comes from the experience that you have. And so I think that that’s a really big important piece that I want to bring here is that it is a group of people that has the power to Yes, we can do this as individuals, yet it really is a group of people that transforms an organization.
John Robertson 22:39
Well, it doesn’t happen without a group, because otherwise, you’re using a visual, if you only have one person rowing the organization, they’re only going to be strong enough to grow on one side of the boat. Exactly. Big time. And so what happens is, and this is why values and focus and, and those things crisis intervention strategy, which can be applied because the event is never the real crisis. Yeah, change can be a crisis for some people. And, and so what happens is, when we get a group of people are anchored around core values, for lack of better words, we can actually create a safe environment. And the only way to innovate the only way to be creative, the only way to partner the only way to explore what’s not yet no one is to be in a safe environment. And, and I see it all the time in a variety of different ways. The best dream killer word in the English vocabulary is how there is no quicker, better way to kill a dream than to ask how. And let me illustrate if I don’t know where I’m at. And I don’t know where I’m going. How is a completely irrelevant question? Right? Once an organization no is honest about where they’re at? This is what’s going on the bottom fell out of the market or we’ve got right now we’ve got us shipping delays and you know, all the things that are going on right now. Right. And we’re not clear on what our refined double new norm is. Mm-hmm. Yeah, then don’t worry about the how, figure out the refined double new norm. Do an honest assessment triage of where things are at. Then you can address the how.
Jess Dewell 24:55
Yeah, so without an eye like I, I agree, we tend to try and think that if we start with how we get there faster 100%? Not. Exactly. And what I hear you saying, and from the experience that I have had, personally and sitting on boards and, and working with organizations is that the more time that is spent setting up the starting line, the better off, everything else materializes. Which path How long were far is it a relay or not?
John Robertson 25:32
And to your comment, how many times do we see people take a course? Oh, I’ve got this now. You know, it’s like me taking First Aid CPR, and I take whatever it is three hours, eight hours. And all of a sudden, now I think I can do open-heart surgery. Right? Yeah, I got news for you, buddy. You got basic first aid, you’re not touching the heart.
Jess Dewell 25:58
So you have put together and we’ll link to this in our show notes, a way to trans form crisis and change and make it an opportunity to thrive. And can you just give us like the hand, the high-level overview and maybe the starting point of where this, where this comes from, and what its goal is.
John Robertson 26:19
So where it came from is I was spending years working with organizations that were always doing what I would call whack a mole or Groundhog Day, to events and turnover, and stress leave and sick time and all the other things. And I started triaging to say, okay, what are the different pieces that are consistent? And so what came out of that was that formula of shift rap what it was that formula of, okay, what kind of leaders are their shepherds, harness? Is the values are people in alignment? To going back to that boat analogy? Are people in alignment to row in the same direction? Intervention? What’s the strategy to? You know, so for example, you and I were chatting previously, about, we all have things going on in our world, right? And, okay, so it may not be work-related. But if I care for you about what’s going on in quote, your backyard, unquote, then I actually get a person who feels cared for, which means they’re going to care for the company, and focus and then clarify where you’re going. And then team building the right team. And many times, if we’re not careful, we end up hiring people who are like us, because we don’t know how to hire around values.
Jess Dewell 27:58
And we end up with a team full of goalies.
John Robertson 28:00
And we end up with a team full of goalies. Exactly.
Jess Dewell 28:03
That’s right. Okay, so there’s a lot to do in the hiring process. And that’s where that’s a place that could start us actually
John Robertson 28:11
I, when I work with organizations, and I’ll give the three questions right now to the listeners, number one, that as a leader, how do you want people to describe you in a non-physical way? Okay, second question. How do people describe you in a non-physical way? And third, what do you want to do but the gap.
Jess Dewell 28:37
With that this was a perfect space and place to say, hey, people, you know what the Bold Business Podcast is all about, you know its value. So Fast Track Your Business subscribers, you know where to find the rest of this, the rest of this uncut interview over in Fast Track Your Business today in your TrueNorth dashboard. So for the rest of you, until next time.
Thank you for tuning in and listening to the Bold Business Podcast. If you’ve learned something from this show that will help you and your business right now, consider what additional impact you can get by subscribing to the Fast Track Your Business program. You owe it to your business to seek out new ways to achieve more while building a resilient and profitable business. Subscribe now. Visit FastTrackYourBusinessToday.com. Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for technical production.