Recently, our Strategic Planning Group, pictured above, gathered for the afternoon to review and update on how the company had performed in the first quarter of the fiscal year and objectives to continue to strive for.
Proudly, we are not a ‘Johnny come lately’ to our process of planning, as we started in 1989. We have planned our future now for 28 consecutive years. Little did we know the journey we were embarking on. Historically, back then the industry was not known for this leadership and management approach. Like most contractors, we basically got the work, built it, and moved on to capture the next job. David Cullen had the foresight that there must be a better way than throwing sh*t at the wall and hoping something sticks. So, after careful deliberation…and some other points of view that thankfully were rejected, planning with strategy was launched! I remember (which are 2 words I seem to use quite a bit now) like it was yesterday.
Who would have ever thought back then you could bring together eight leaders of the company, five non–Cullen’s, in critical functions of the firm, and actually use the past to predict the future with a high degree of accuracy or that you could study aspects of the company performance and culture to discuss and agree on so many things that were going well and things, of course, that weren’t going so well and needed to change. That is where the strategy came in – how could we take our varied experiences, field/office, Cullen/non-Cullen, everybody give up some control, yet come together as a well-oiled team with the same vision in virtually every aspect of being a high value service provider of construction. Personally, I have learned a lot from planning and while there have been moments of frustration when I didn’t get my way, it has been humbling to see my way isn’t always the right way and there are usually many right ways when the team takes ownership of ideas, holds themselves accountable to one another, and makes it happen.
I am reminded of an event several years ago when the renowned Head Coach of the University of Wisconsin Football team came and spoke to 100 women and men on our management team. Coach Alvarez used a simple acronym to get a point across to us that he did with his teams. W.I.N., What’s Important Now, and if you do your best to focus on that, in whatever you do, profound things can and will happen. He and his teams have proved that being best in class is not an accident, but it’s a result of hard work, rallying around common goals, and having fun.
As I look back, and also forward, there are some simple truths that seem to me to be foundational in our planning:
- The construction that we are doing for our owners today is what gets us work in the future.
- We have external and internal customers and we owe them the Golden Rule!
- A safe job is a well-managed job.
- Cullen’s performance in the field by those that put the work in place is the final expression of the quality of our management.
- Planning just cannot be done from on high. It’s critical each market we are in and each functional support group has its own plan put together by those that serve in these respective areas and their plans are meshed together to not only eliminate silos, but enhance collaboration and success. Think of it perhaps as a football defense that prides itself on getting off the field to allow the offense to score.
In 2017, we celebrate our 125th year of being in business, and I am convinced the best lies before us, by being mindful of our past.
Thanks for reading this, my first blog. I have lots of “I remembers” so, there may be a few more down the road.