How do you know how to transform a business if you were born on an Iowa farm?

That was the key…the Iowa farm, a foundation.   I learned from my Parents the value of:  integrity, honesty, family, team work and helping our neighbors day or night. They trusted me with animals and farm equipment at an early age.  They taught me responsibility and accountability. They were always supportive in all our (I had two older sisters) endeavors and were “quick to adjust” their schedules and pocketbook for us.

Every day there was something unexpected that occurred.  Expect the unexpected.  If you want to survive, you accept disappointments and adjust your business plan, immediately.

Procrastination is the killer.  Don’t wait.  You know you need to make a change in personnel or strategy. DO IT NOW.

Those lessons have been the foundation for many of my business decisions throughout my career.

Life is a constant transformation.  Businesses are a constant transformation.  We are in a turbulent environment.  Many organizations get out of alignment without understanding they are never stable.  We are always in a FLEX state.  Accept it.

Silos work on a farm, oats in one and wheat in another.  Silos don’t work in business, small or large.  Bureaucracies “kill” small and large organizations.  Practice owners and managers have to focus on the business side as well.  Mesh the team and business into a flat organization.

Growing Southwest Airlines from a fledgling airline in Texas through airline deregulation was a great experience and the importance of people and culture still puts Southwest in the limelight many years later.

My strength has always been on the people, marketing and customer service side.  My weakness was on the finance side.

So, I always put a strong finance person on my team.  Admit what you are good at and what you are not.

I never had training in crisis management.   But, I learned it the hard way, when we were recruited to leave Southwest and try to save Braniff International from financial disaster, which had only ten days of cash when we arrived. It was a billion dollar company that the ego of the CEO ruined.

We took it through chapter 11 successfully in 18 months and got it flying again.  It was stressful but a great learning experience about transformation.

Transformation is NOT fun…..but it is necessary and a part of business.  Plan on it.  You can count on it happening.

For more information on Howard Putnam, click here.

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