Interview with Paradigm Learning President, Robb Gomez
Developing talent within an organization is a top concern for most senior leaders. According to Robb Gomez, President of Paradigm Learning, Inc., an important component of that development needs to align how every person in the organization contributes to the organization’s growth – profitable growth, to be more specific. After all, is there an organization in this galaxy whose main goal does not include profitable growth?
As an organization’s president, Gomez concentrates on, “what needs to be accomplished every day to make sure the organization is aligned and moving in a direction focused on profitable growth.”
When you arm your organization with talented people who understand the importance of aligning the entire enterprise around its strategy and the business levers used to achieve profitable growth, you create an environment of success and a culture aligned around success.
Gomez explains that, while training and communication is incredibly important, for it to be impactful, it must be aligned to the strategic imperatives, short- and long-term, for the business. “It’s really a means to an end…and for most, that end means growth…profitable growth. If you have people in your business aligned to the strategies of the organization and leaders who have the business acumen to understand the impacts of their decisions, you certainly give yourself a much better chance of hitting your growth and profit goals.”
A key to all this is finding opportunities, at all levels, to create a “business owner” mentality. In essence, getting associates more vested in their role as though it was their business. “Once you’ve been clear with the strategic direction, creating a culture that encourages thinking like a business owner will not only heighten the awareness of where they contribute to the business, it will also cause them to continuously act on improving the business,” explains Gomez.
This does not happen by itself. There are activities that are required to get the organization aligned and employees fluent in the business of the business. Some form of business acumen training is paramount to providing that knowledge and confidence to become a “business owner” within the business.
Gomez continues, “Whenever a new associate comes to work for us, and they inquire about our culture, the first thing I say is we’re a culture of business owners. To give them the confidence that the decisions and actions they take are the right ones, we provide them the opportunity to participate in our own business acumen simulation.”
Once you’ve created this culture of ownership and business acumen, the next hurdle will be sustainability. “If you make it a onetime event and expect real change to occur, you’re fooling yourself. To sustain a culture of business acumen, there needs to be a variety of tools, activities and reminders that reinforce the elements of the business that are important and linked to the ultimate goal of profitable growth,” says Gomez.
Some of these tools, activities and reminders include:
1. Monthly huddle meetings focused on company, unit or divisional results
2. Internal message boards specifically focused on business acumen that allow employees to share best practices, lessons learned, and ideas
3. Financial metric tools that allow for situational analysis
4. Action plan commitment and monitoring allowing linkages to specific results
5. Participation in quarterly financial result presentations and team follow-up about what each team member gleaned from those calls
Last but not least, executive sponsorship will be key to any successful implementation. As Gomez concludes, “If there’s no executive sponsorship [to build a culture of business acumen], it really shows that it’s not important. If you’re looking to make a difference in the business as a senior leader, you have to show it by your actions and willingness to invest in the people who ultimately execute on your behalf toward the Holy Grail…and at least for us, that’s profitable growth.”