Merrill Dubrow thinks his basic cell phone is smarter than his multifunctional BlackBerry because when he changes time zones, it automatically updates the time, while the BlackBerry doesn’t.
It’s just a small detail, but it’s in the minutia that Dubrow finds opportunities and generates ideas as president and CEO of M/A/R/C Research, his 91-person market research company.
Smart Business spoke with Dubrow about how he skates to where the puck will be in order to improve the business.
Q: How do you lead change?
Same old, same old means you’re going out of business. There has to be change, additional strategy, new blood. The team that gets you into a pickle isn’t the team that gets you out of a pickle.
When I got here, the average tenure was 14 years. They’re almost allergic to change.
Effectively communicate the vision and the strategy what’s going on, when it’s going on. To have people buy in to change, it’s integrity, communication and being honest.
Q: How do you effectively communicate to get buy-in?
Be realistic. You’re not going to get everybody to buy in to it. I liken it to this: In this world, 20 percent of the people are gorgeous, who are Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. Twenty percent of the people should probably put a bag over their head, who aren’t really attractive. Then there are 60 percent of people, like myself, who are just average.
When I talk to the entire company, it’s the same percentage, 20-60-20, only the labels are a little different. Twenty percent are going to love it. It doesn’t matter what I say, how I say it, they’re going to love it. Twenty percent of the people no matter what, it’s not getting through ‘I don’t care what he says. I’m tuned out. I’m gonna doodle.’
What I’m trying to do is reach that 60 percent. Get through to them. The way you do that is you lay out and communicate the plan. Everybody likes to communicate a different way.
You may want to communicate via e-mail. She may like in-person. I may like the phone. Continue to reinforce what’s important so they keep hearing that song over and over.
If you do that, you stand a good chance of a high percentage of people getting it, understanding it, desiring it, buying in to it, and ultimately delivering additional time and effort that drops to the bottom line.
When you make a mistake, raise your hand and say, ‘I made a mistake. Here was the thought process, and here was the mistake.’ One of the most important words in the English language is a 14-letter word accountability.
A lot of CEOs don’t have it. If they fail, they spin it. They have nothing to do with it. It was this, it was that.
Q: How do you create a vision?
Keep in mind where the industry is headed in the next two, three, four years. Be there a little quicker. There’s a famous quote that Wayne Gretzky said, and that’s skate to where the puck is going, not to where it is.
Anticipate where the market is going, where you’re trying to get your company, where someone’s going to be in two or three years or where you want someone to be in two or three years. You’ve got to have great anticipation skills, and that’s difficult to do.
It’s a tough skill to teach, but paying attention to details and everything you notice out there helps in the decision-making process.
Q: What do you look for when hiring?
I look for people whose name on the front of their jersey is more important than the name on the back. The name on the back is usually their own, and the name on the front is usually the emblem or team you play for.
Are they involved with the industry organizations? ...When you’re involved, it shows that you want to give back and that you can multitask and achieve a lot of goals at once.
Look for people who are hungry, work hard, work smart, and go above and beyond.
HOW TO REACH: M/A/R/C Research, (800) 884-MARC or www.marcresearch.com