In our next episode of the Accelerating Value podcast series, we spoke to Julie Brown, Global Director of Business Transformation Services at Johnson Controls. Julie is a master of leading change and maximizing value through business transformation.
We spoke about the two pillars of value, stagnancy being the death of value, the biggest obstacle to driving internal change, and plenty more.
Here are just a few highlights from this incredibly insightful conversation.
So a topic talked about in the past is that all change is a negotiation, and then a big part of negotiation, just like a big part of value creation, is the idea of confidence and trust between people within organizations. How do you see that right now, against the backdrop of everything that we've all been through in the last 12 to 15 months, and what does that do when you think about business transformation which is really about increasing value. How do you think about confidence and trust right now in that context?
I think there are really two pillars to that. One that I think is very unique to this time, which is to have the humility to go back and relisten to your customers and revisit their situation. The second part is recalibrating on what I call the hard reality. Are your KPIs still relevant? Are the numbers by which you're assessing your business still the right numbers in this particular climate?
Having humility and understanding your customers, and having really good data about what's going on, so that you can get to those micro verticals to create a new kind of climate of trust and respect in the organization that can help you bring people along on your journey of change.
One of the things that are like this would be corporate guidance. The ability to project forward and then measure progress against a reasonable or unreasonable goal is a huge part of what constitutes trust and confidence between the company and the investors or the market. How do you see that evolving within a corporation today, so in between human beings? It's sort of always been there, but the analytical underpinnings of the data and the analytics that undergird this are intensifying right now, fairly dramatically. How are you seeing this in real life?
I think there's a continuation of something that, in my mind, started decades ago in corporations that are now expanding. It's getting farther into more and more functions within the business. What I'm seeing in companies is that pressure is now going to other areas. For example, you really see a lot of pressure coming to the marketing organization. We’re saying things like: we're spending all of this money to create markets to create leads to create opportunities. Help me really understand what marketing's contribution is to that versus the sales reps who get the opportunity?
And now that the conversations start evolving a little bit, to say: well, if we can better understand what those opportunities are, then I can deploy very rich powerful impactful sales resources.
That then ties back to my point on data which is making some of those functions able to shift their footing from a retrospective on what they did do and what was the value to actually being able to forecast.
On a call listening in with our CEO a few weeks ago, he said: “Listen, we're not just going to spend 200 million. We need to know what we're going to spend that on and what we're going to get out of it”, and that's just a flat truth. Whether it's marketing, supply, procurement, a new manufacturing plant, or sales headcount, that's the transformation that's happening in business right now.
Given the speed of change and the volatility of the overall world situation across many different vectors that really amp that up even more. So go to that next step, how do you think about risk today? Because, with leading change there's risk associated with that change, so some people would argue that you are a risk creator and yet you're also mitigating risk. Because you're trying to let go of identifiable risk, and you may be incurring some new risk. So how do you think about that?
That's actually how we think about it, which is doing nothing is death, and I would rather self-inflict the pain than have it inflicted upon me.
So a lot of times we're talking about really significant capital expenditures that hit companies in different ways and the speed to value is really crucial as a way of de-risking that investment. How are you reimagining the way that you feel your customers gain value while de-risking the capital expenditure?
So one of the transformations that companies look at a lot is focusing more and more on their ultimate mission, what are their outcomes, and what can be done to actually align your value and your delivery to that mission.
Check out our guide to learn more about planning a route to value.
Last question: So if you're leading change, what is your biggest obstacle to driving internal change?
As much as we talk about data, companies are still living organizations. It’s about the people in them, the communication, and getting their hearts and minds behind it.
As an example, I was talking a little bit about linear and non-linear growth. It's really easy for someone to come to the understandable conclusion that if I'm going to start automating more sales-related functions, that means you don't need sales reps anymore. The exact opposite is true. I need sales reps more than ever, but I need them doing the highest order, highest value, most skilled things. It's about understanding changes like this.
Julie Brown is obsessed with value creation, which has helped accelerate growth and change within Johnson Controls. The full conversation with her offered a wealth of insights and examples of real-world value acceleration in today’s climate.
The Accelerating Value podcast series focuses on how we see, create, and plan value. Every week we talk to new guests, who are leaders across various disciplines. We understand their definition of value and showcase their expert insights to help you in your own quest to create value.
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