Monthly Archives: September 2010

On-boarding a New CFO – Four Imperatives or Considerations

Situation: The Company is hiring their first CFO. How do they integrate this key person into the company?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • The company should reflect the values, needs and desires of the CEO.
    • Have a clear discussion and agreement with the CFO candidate on values, role, and organizational structure before hiring or announcing anything to the company.
    • The talents of the CEO and CFO should complement each other.
  • The CEO may put the CFO in charge of areas that they want to delegate – accounting, administration, finance and contracts.
    • The CEO should remain involved in banking relationships.
  • Recommended announcements and timeline:
    • When the new CFO is announced, simultaneously present the new organization chart (broad responsibilities, not detailed position descriptions).
    • Set a timeline for realignment of roles. It is not necessary to specify exact roles at the time of the announcement – let everyone know that this is a work in progress and give a time frame within which all will be resolved.
  • Once the CFO is in place, the CEO and CFO should meet at least weekly, to assure that the CFO has the support and resources needed to accomplish their responsibilities.
    • All decisions within the CFO’s group, personnel responsibilities and any shifts in roles should come from the CFO, with the support of the CEO.
    • This will help the new CFO to more rapidly assimilate into the company and will give them the authority needed to manage their organization.

Key Words: CFO, On-Boarding, Values, Roles, Responsibilities, Authority, Personnel, Delegation 

Great Deal on a New Space . . . Now We Must Move! Five Recommendations

Situation: The Company has taken advantage of favorable lease rates to secure a larger space. How can they minimize work flow disruption during the move?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Plan the move in detail: electrical, intranet and telephone needs; office space and facilities; design or production space and facilities.
    • If you can’t move everything over a short period of time – a 3-day weekend – consider moving in steps – a series of discrete moves over time, each with its own requirements and timetable.
  • If you carry inventory, pre-build inventory to see you through critical steps of the move.
    • If you have a major customer with strict delivery deadlines, try to negotiate a delivery window during which you can conduct the move.
    • Determine if there is seasonality to order delivery that makes a particular time of year more convenient to move critical operations.
    • Custom work will require special planning.
  • If you plan to upgrade equipment, consider purchasing, installing and operating the new equipment in the new location instead of your existing location.
  • If you will be leasing the new facilities – maybe even if you are purchasing – ask the new lesser or seller to provide cash to:
    • Finance delayed shipments at a price discount,
    • Cover expenses of the move and outfitting the new location to your needs.
  • Consider converting to a wireless intranet and telephone system to avoid the expense of wiring the new facility.
    • Look at plug and go options.

Key Words: Planning, Location, Work Flow, Inventory, Technology, Customer Service, Logistics 

Developing Leaders within the Ranks: Four Approaches

Situation: As they have grown, the Company has used Bay Area talent to seed new locations around the country. Leadership is now short at headquarters. What have others done to fill leadership gaps?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Develop a formal Leadership Development Program.
    • Identify the top leadership candidates with the company – the top 10%.
    • Identify their individual goals and determine whether these are consistent with company values.
    • Clearly communicate the roles and expectations that you have for future company leaders – both the upsides and the sacrifices that you anticipate that they will have to make.
    • Team the leadership candidates 1/1 with mentors to guide them.
    • Consider an “internal” Board of Directors for developing leaders. Members are considered advisors to the true Board of Directors, understand company strategy, are coached on company values, and are involved in an advisory capacity in key company decisions.
    • Consider a leadership “boot camp” program to groom potential leaders and weed out those who like the idea of leadership more than the reality.
    • From the standpoint of a very hierarchical company, the following items are involved:
      • Time
      • Talent
      • Defining the traits for key positions
      • Identifying candidates who appear to possess these traits
      • Assigning leadership roles to these individuals in executing the annual strategic plan – with senior managers mentoring leaders-in-training
      • Include training and development in professional development plans
      • Investigate employee assessment tools, for example the Myers-Briggs tools.

Key Words: Leadership, Development, Goals, Values, Roles, Expectations, Mentor 

Gee, I Like Your IP! Let’s Talk: 3 Steps to the Dance

Situation:  The Company is moving from a specialty solution to a complete solution. They have identified a partner with intellectual property (IP) that will help them fulfill this vision. How should the CEO approach this company to access their IP?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • There are two aspects of any deal: technical feasibility that will produce value; and the emotional needs of the principals.
    • The technical aspects are the most straightforward and easiest to value.
    • Frequently, a favorable deal hinges not on technical feasibility, but on the desires of the principals and their ability to trust one-another.
  • If you are convinced of the value, you must convince the other party that their best option is to work with you. Then you can negotiate the specifics.
    • Sell your vision: the technologies together are much more valuable than they are alone: 1 + 1 = 5!
    • If control of the technology is an issue, you must negotiate an arrangement where they are comfortable with your control.
      • Do you and the other party have a trusted advisor in common or is there an individual who is respected by both of you? This person can help communicate your good intentions.
  • If your best efforts do not produce an appealing arrangement, your fall-back position may be a partnership. If the partnership is backed by modest investment with options for future purchase, this may be another way to for you to eventually gain control of the technology.

Key Words: IP, Intellectual Property, Negotiation, Emotional Needs, Feasibility, Deal, Partnership