Tag Archives: Business Lending

Plain Sight

Smart, talented, and ethical – each of the 11 members in this company’s value creation group® (VCG) possesses a strong track record. So why is this business currently underperforming? In addition to the whipsaw changes occurring within their industry, there are other systemic causes.

In response to my last blog post, John, a geologist, commented, “Every drive I take in the mountains or in Eastern Washington turns into a Geology lecture. My family may see a pretty barn on a hill and I see that the hill is bedrock high that became a suitably drained building site.” Like John, we each see things through our history until someone or something helps us see through a new lens.

While we all enjoy the company of an optimist, over a pessimist, this disposition of looking at the favorable side of events and expecting the best outcome is a costly business posture. I knew that deep down this group was prepared to face facts, but it wasn’t going to be easy.

The problem with reality is that it often causes optimism to flee. I’ve seen groups who aren’t comfortable spending time with each other in reality and they unknowingly use optimism to avoid the truth. Even when the facts are discouraging, hope, anchored in faith, is strong enough to remain present. That’s exactly what we were establishing in this group, the capacity to do good work while facing reality, and slowly developing a trust that could recover from interpersonal setbacks.

As this VCG settled down and relaxed with each other, I noticed a fresh capacity in their ability to listen. The edginess of tight deadlines and unfulfilled expectations was replaced by curiosity and patience. In under an hour, they transformed their space from a hectic, “I don’t want to be here”, time suck meeting, into a mutually constructed personal learning laboratory.

Suddenly, a comment surfaced about the lack of shared priorities and a tendency to look for quick fixes without doing enough research, and this elevated their attention. When everyone paused and nodded in agreement, I knew we needed to make hay while the sun was shining. For the next two hours, their level of collaboration was palpable.

During our wrap-up, I asked them why they were experiencing this and the newest group members said, “This is first space I’ve ever known where we could relax and focus without performance pressure.”

Attention is a condition of readiness that includes focus and receptivity. When each one of us is attentive and present in the group we can birth collaboration – and value creation always follows. Conversely, the pressure of hurriedness, tight deadlines and individual deliverables can kill collaboration. But when a magnetic topic materializes, everything can change!

It is a facilitator’s job to notice this shift and sponsor the group’s movement into deeper exploration. That member’s comment was the magnet and a hidden truth was now in plain sight.

This group longed for a noble set of priorities to collaborate around, something powerful enough to draw them together. The source of all teamwork is a common future and these talented people were ready. Are you? I’d love to know your thoughts. Jim@peer-place.com


Surviving the Default Tsunami

Despite the government bailout, banks will not be increasing commercial lending anytime soon. At the same time, alternative financing through non-bank sources is also tightening up.

As a result, we could see a tidal wave of defaults, affecting more than 16 percent of businesses as they struggle to stay afloat through this recession.

That was the jolt I got this morning from the experts at a forum on alternative financing for mid-market, private businesses.

Sure, some lenders are still in the market, the speakers said. But loan standards are getting higher, and nervous lenders are risking less with smaller loans. Personal guarantees are becoming the norm.

Many mid-market business will go under, the speakers warned, because they won’t have enough cash in reserve to carry them after their lenders ratchet down their lines of credit. To survive, bitter rivals in the market may have to consider joining together.

From our perspective, the end of the era of easy credit means businesses must self-finance, in a sense, by finding new ways to access internal cash sources, those untapped pools of profit and cash flow that have historically been beyond the reach of the senior leadership team.

So before you pick up the phone to propose a partnership deal with the company that was trying to steal your best client last year, we suggest you and your leadership team ask yourselves the following questions:

  • Are there untapped pools of cash flow and profit available internally?
  • As a leadership team, do we really understand our place in the market — or, as we like to say here at PeerPlace, do we have a shared mental model of our core value creation process?
  • Do we really understand our formula accurately? Do we really know how our business works, and where we make our greatest profits?
  • Finally, is something holding us back? Might there be an unnecessary “governor” on our business engine that we don’t see?

Please note this is not a cost-cutting exercise. Every business is executing cost controls and working the traditional recession levers, but those are the “apparent” levers and are not what I am talking about.

Instead, this is an effort to identify untapped opportunity. Through our work with senior leadership teams, we always find that once they start improving how they interact, and how they tackle the issues in front of them, they discover previously overlooked pools of additional cash flow and profit — and they’re typically significant.

Because as leadership engagement and accountability soar, that thing we call “value creation” lifts off.

As we go through this exercise with executives, we remind them of two key truths that everyone should keep in mind in this economic environment:

  • There is always more available than you can see.
  • Your senior leadership team and key managers have invaluable insights that never get harvested effectively.

Part of our job is to help you hear their message, and find the untapped potential — and capital — within your company.

Brian Moats –  PeerPlace, Inc.

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