Open door Featured

1:15pm EDT September 22, 2003
A faucet is a faucet, right? To Moen CEO Richard Posey, that's like saying a car is just a car, or all airplanes are the same.

Since he was named CEO of North America's top faucet maker in January last year, Posey has tried to continue the culture of product innovation and improvement, for which Moen is known. The key, he says, is open communication so employees feel free to share ideas.

"We're pretty open around here," he says. "The doors to this office are always open. Moen was that way before I got here. I'm trying to build on the success of the past."

Q: How do you stay innovative?

Posey: What we do is try to create an environment where people are willing, even eager, anxious, to come forward with their ideas. We absolutely try not to shoot the messenger. We have 500 people in this building, and we've got thousands more in the company in total; all of those people have ideas.

The goal is to tap into all of our people in our organization and let them bring their ideas forward. If we can create an environment where people are confident that their idea is going to be listened to and they're not going to be ridiculed for it, then people will come forward with those ideas.

How do you do that?

A lot of it is just creating that environment and communicating over and over that not only is it OK to have ideas, but we want you to bring forward the ideas.

There's kind of a presumption of "yes." What I mean by that is there's kind of a bias to agree with an associate's idea. Now, that doesn't mean it's a rubber stamp and we do every idea that comes along because not all of them fit with the strategy of the company. You have to filter the ideas to some extent.

Overall, there's a bias to want to take the idea and do something with it. That's part of the culture. You work with it all the time, and you work with the managers of the company, and people start to understand that and believe it and it builds on itself.

Is there pressure to come up with the next best thing?

When we talk about innovation, we talk about the fact that innovation is not just about major breakthroughs, not just about putting the proverbial man on the moon. Those are wonderful, but those are kind of the grand slam homeruns.

We think innovation is all about improving everything we do on a regular basis. There are a lot of -- to complete that baseball analogy -- a lot of singles and doubles out there, and if we can keep improving everything we do, in all areas of the company, and at all levels of the company, then we're creating the kind of innovative environment that will bring forward new ideas, new products, new services, new structures and ways of doing things.

Importantly, it's all areas of the company, all levels of the company, and not just the kind of huge ideas. How are we going to improve the process in just this area? How do we make that better?

Small improvements here, small improvements there, they build on each other. How to reach: Moen Inc., (800) 289-6636 or www.moen.com


Expert advice

As a CEO, there are lots of management consulting firms clamoring to tell you how to better run your company. But consultants are not all the same, and a bad one can sour your opinion and make you reluctant to hire one that could provide valuable advice to grow your business.

Dreamriver Group, a management consulting firm with offices in Medina and Columbus, published a booklet to help your senior executives and middle managers understand some of the dynamics involved in forming and maintaining lasting relationships with management consulting firms.

The publication, "What Keeps Your CEO Up At Night?: How To Manage Management Consulting Firms," contains these five best practices for selecting and managing relationships with management consulting firms.

* Throw your gut into it. Interview and meet with the contenders more than once. If you sense even a hint of arrogance, trust your instincts and dismiss that firm.

* Get your ducks in a row. Ask your consulting firm to help identify and prioritize your needs. Work together to determine financial and organizational objectives. Establish project success criteria.

* Reach across enterprise boundaries and overcommunicate. Your greatest opportunity for success occurs after you've demonstrated to your CEO and other leaders how your project contributes to the bottom line. Report progress in regular updates.

* Leverage your organization's knowledge. Work with your consulting firm to be sure internal resources are utilized wherever and whenever appropriate. Use the project to rate your organization's overall effectiveness.

* Actively manage your relationship. Remember that your consulting firm reports to you. Communicate openly and often about its performance. Source: Dreamriver Group, (330) 777-0090 or www.dreamrivergroup.com