Tom Campbell’s business dream team has four simple parts: mission, vision and values, but most of all, an independent board of directors.
“The first place you should start is to put together a fiduciary board of outside directors,” said Campbell, CEO and principal shareholder of Quick Solutions Inc., the 190-employee Columbus information technology consulting firm. “That is absolutely No. 1. And then mission, vision, values.”
Campbell is not hesitant to say what he thinks about midsize companies operated by one or two people ― they’re dictatorships.
“It’s very autocratic, and it’s what they want to accomplish,” he says. “I don’t figure that works well in today’s environment.”
His solution is a strong board of directors, an actual fiduciary board just like a public corporation would have. All directors should be chosen for their levels of expertise. The company CEO and president would sit on the board, as well, making, for example, a total of seven members, five of which are from the outside.
“What that does is it brings outside perspectives ― they give you independent advice without fear of repercussion,” Campbell says. “You’ll get a lot of straightforward advice, and I think that is vital.”
The next step in building the dream team is to get employee buy-in.
“Everyone has to be on the same page, moving in the same direction,” Campbell says. “Mission is very important, vision is very important as is your core set of values.”
Mission is what you are, vision is what you want to be, and your values should include communication, people, character and accountability, among others.
“People need to know what is going on,” he says. “Communication is absolutely vital. You cannot overcommunicate.
“You’ve got to do it in small groups, you’ve got to do it in large groups, you’ve got to do it over and over again,” Campbell says.
Meet every Friday and talk about what was accomplished in the previous week, what’s on the table in the current week and what is getting done. Assign someone to take notes so everyone has a record.
“That way, you are continually making progress and everybody knows exactly what’s being done. It’s transparent,” Campbell says.
Employees should be involved in determining the mission, vision and values.
“Being able to really be an integral part of the team helps move things forward,” Campbell says.
He recommends finding people who will take on new challenges.
“You have to find those people who want to take on additional responsibility, and when you find them, you have to be very clear about what the work is.”
If you are not, the employee could not want to take on the load, and you’re back to square one.
“Once they take it on, it’s like teaching your kid to ride a bike ― you run alongside him for so long, but sooner or later you’ve got to let go and see if they can do it,” he says.
Pick them up if they fall and get them back on track.
“It is amazing when people are truly empowered; it’s amazing what they will do,” Campbell says. “They’ll rise up. The effort that they will put in, the sense of accomplishment, the pride ― there’s nothing better than that. It takes special people, but you’ve got to give them the opportunity to succeed.”
In the end, it’s the people that make the business.
“We sell intellectual capital in the marketplace, but our people, their character, dedication and drive is the essence,” he says. “That’s what you have: Your integrity comes first, your dedication and your ability to do what you said you’re going to do is really what makes a difference.”
How to reach: Quick Solutions, (614) 825-8000 or www.quicksolutions.com
If your company is ready to expand and wants to locate branch offices in other cities, the planning starts with a steering commission, say Tom Campbell, CEO of Quick Solutions.
“We created a steering committee, and then we went through and got a number of people involved,” he says. “We created a plan on how to go about that ― a specific plan on what cities we’re looking at and the work that needed to be done.”
Campbell says if you are fortunate as he was to have a company board member who was successful in launching branch offices, have him head the steering committee.
Once the research has been done and the site selected, the steering committee should draw up another plan to find the right person to head the new branch office.
“It’s a process that’s been used very successfully by some of the larger firms,” Campbell says. “It’s not like recreating the wheel, though. If you don’t articulate what it is you’re trying to accomplish, what everybody’s role is, and then assign that, get out of the way, let people do what they need to do, but give them timelines and have constant meetings set up for communication for results ― you’re not going to get anywhere.”