Building an ‘Innovation First’ Organization

December 14, 2020News, Partners

Building an 'Innovation First' Organization

We sat down with local innovation leaders to learn how they equip their employees to embrace innovation and continuous improvement.

Supporting Innovation Across Southwest Missouri

We know innovation isn’t just for startups. Many of our region’s largest and most established employers are constantly innovating to meet new demands. These leaders are doing important work in our community, which inspired us to create the Springfield Entrepreneurial & Innovation Network. The network is a peer group for local business leaders focused on innovation and continuous improvement. The group is dedicated to innovations and improvements that are driving businesses and our community forward.

You know what we like to say around here. Community is who we are. Forward is where we’re going. We believe our work to convene these leaders plays an important role in moving us all forward. We’re thankful to know they feel the same way.

Building an ‘Innovation First’ Organization

The group recently got together for a roundtable discussion led by James Jeffries, Partner at Kutak Rock and Teresa McGeehan, Owner/Operator of a network of McDonald’s restaurants. James has spent the last 15 years as an attorney specializing in intellectual property, trademark, and copyright law. And before he helped people protect their intellectual property he spent time developing some himself as a software engineer for MasterCard. He’s been on both sides of the table and understands what businesses need to know to protect their innovations.

Teresa McGeehan has worked with the McDonald’s brand since she was 16 years old. Today she owns and operates a network of the restaurants across southwest Missouri that employs more than 1,000 people. She’s worked to implement a wide range of innovations at McDonald’s throughout the years and has a first-hand view into how the brand with more than 38,000 physical restaurants across 100 countries innovates to meet customer demands.

The two shared their insights into how organizations can equip employees to innovate, how leaders can demonstrate an ‘innovation first’ approach, and how you can learn just as much from a failure as you do from a success.

Tips for Building an Innovative Organization

Examine Your Policies

If asked, most organizations and leaders would say they want to be innovative. Those good intentions don’t equate to actual innovations. Whether intentional or not, an organization may have policies or other barriers in place that stifle innovation and discourage employees from bringing forward new ideas.

It’s important to take a look at all policies and revise or remove them, as necessary. It’s also equally important to consider what policies aren’t in place. Organizations may want to codify incentives for employee innovations. If there is no framework for how employees bring ideas forward, how projects are piloted, or how new ideas are evaluated, employees may assume that those activities are discouraged. 

Communicate Your Values

It’s important to have policies in place that reflect a commitment to innovation. Beyond that, it’s important to communicate those policies and values to the entire organization. 

Create a messaging plan that consistently reinforces the organization’s commitment to innovation. Remind everyone of the importance of process improvement, and encourage leaders to echo this message to their teams. Leaders should imagine any employee at any level being stopped and asked if their employer is innovative – What would they say?

Plan for Pilots

Piloting new ideas is an important step in any innovation process. Organizations should have plans in place for how to pilot new ideas, be prepared to designate the appropriate resources to pilots, and should have clear evaluation standards in place for each project.

Involve Everyone

Diversity is a critical component of innovation. Groups formed to focus on innovation should involve employees from all aspects of the organization. It’s important to bring together different perspectives, tenures, and backgrounds. While some leadership presence is likely in the mix, consider asking senior members to take a back seat and refrain from taking charge of the conversations.

Innovation groups and exploratory committees are great – but don’t let these structures become the only means of generating new ideas within an organization. Innovation should be everyone’s business.

Learn from Failures

A truly innovative organization will have plenty of failures. Customer needs may change, business models may shift, and pilots may fail. Organizations have an opportunity to learn at every step along the way. 

It’s important for leaders to be prepared to embrace failures, learn from the process, and encourage everyone involved. The things that don’t work can provide the best data for future innovations. Organizations that embrace all aspects of innovation – including the failures – will ultimately reap the greatest rewards.

Work With Us

Are you looking to build an innovation first culture, but don’t know where to start? If you’re unsure of where to begin or how to conquer common stumbling blocks – let us know! We regularly work with organizations or all sizes to create customized innovation initiatives.

Succession Planning for Your Business

October 16, 2020News, Partners

Succession Planning for Your Business

Andy Peebles with efactory partner Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown shares his insights into succession planning for your business.

Succession Planning for Your Business

Imagine this scenario: You’ve worked your
entire life to turn what was once seen as a risky and unlikely business venture
into a successful and profitable company that you are immensely proud of. Your
company’s name is known far and wide for providing an excellent service or a
well-crafted product, you’ve grown from one employee to 100 loyal workers, and
your bottom line continues to increase year over year. You have finally reached
the point in your career that you feel comfortable retiring to enjoy the fruits
of your labor.

However, you realize you have absolutely no
idea who should take over your company to lead it successfully into the future.
What happens to your dream-turned-reality when you are no longer around to lead
it?

This situation is quite common for business
owners, and it can be a daunting thing to consider. This is where a proper
business succession plan comes into play.

Succession planning involves a series of
logistical and financial decisions about who will take over your business at
certain key events in your life, such as retirement, death or disability. This
usually involves a written buy-sell agreement, which provides step-by-step
instructions as to No. 1, when a transfer of your business is required; No. 2,
who should take over management and ownership at those key events; and No. 3,
the ultimate terms of the purchase (e.g. price and payment).

Triggering Events

Most succession plans provide for a transfer of the business at death and retirement. However, the best plans also take disability and involuntary transfers (e.g. divorce or bankruptcy) into consideration.

Care should be taken to properly define the
term disability. For example, exactly how long must you be disabled before
ownership is transferred? What if you are lucid enough to make personal care
decisions, but unable to understand every single financial aspect of your
business? How disabled do you really need to be before your trusted successor
steps in? These, and other questions, must not be overlooked.

Selecting a Successor

Clearly, one of the most vital parts of a proper succession plan is determining what trusted individual(s) will take over your business in the future. As a business owner, you have the option to sell your ownership interest to your fellow co-owners, family members, key employees, an outside third party or even to the company itself

The ideal successor will be business-savvy,
familiar with your particular business, experienced in the industry and
respected by your staff, all of which can ease the transition. It may be
helpful to keep an updated list of your potential successors, including their
respective strengths and your order of consideration.

Payment Terms

Outlining the value of your business and how your successor must pay for your ownership interest are essential provisions to include in a succession plan. It is advisable to utilize your certified public accountant or employ a professional business broker or valuation expert to assist in formulating an accurate value for your business.

Once a value is set, you will need to
determine if your successor must pay for the entire cost in full at closing or
whether they may pay for the interest over a certain time period. Often, the
purchase price will be secured through a life insurance policy on the owner’s life
or through a loan.

The most prudent business owner will plan for
all of these decisions in advance, providing all interested parties and
potential successors a timeline of when a succession should take place. Keep in
mind that an exit from your business may not always be foreseeable, especially
when it comes to incapacity or death. Therefore, the sooner a business owner
gets a strong succession plan in place, the better. Such a plan will
undoubtedly relieve stress for the owner, the successor, and the employees, and
ensure that the successful business they worked so hard to develop thrives for
years to come.

Brought to You by Our Partners

Andy Peebles is an estate planning and business attorney with our corporate partners at Carnahan, Evans, Cantwell & Brown PC. In addition to advising business owners on succession planning strategies Andy also regularly meets with business owners during efactory office hours.

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