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  • Stephen Leckenby

Understanding Our "Why"

If you have had a chance to peruse the ADG website, you may have come across our Mission Statement, “To operate a portfolio of highly profitable companies that honor God and impact people.” The Vision further seeks to clarify “impact” by stating its intent “To radically impact the lives of those we serve.” As we continue on this journey of portfolio expansion, we are challenged daily with implementing these core philosophies in a way that is both visible and meaningful.

This endeavor brings an interesting question to the forefront of a casual observer’s mind. It is a question we ask ourselves as we seek to remain accountable to our Mission and Vision. It is a question that, although obvious, is most likely one that is a little difficult or even uncomfortable to say out loud. So, we’d like to try to answer it.

The question we are referring to is this: “Is ADG about PEOPLE or is it about PROFIT?” Our answer? A resounding “YES”! But…not only do we want to dig deeper into the why AND how of this answer, we want to speak to the basic premise of the question itself. Because, as individuals who seek to represent a higher Kingdom, we must be able to successfully accomplish that resounding “YES” to bring honor to our Creator, the one who instilled in our hearts this Mission and Vision in the first place.

Let’s begin.

Our “YES” to the profit side of the question is based on the due-diligence we implement prior to an acquisition, the models and processes we implement upon completion of said acquisition AND on the quality of people doing the implementation and leading us towards profitability. All of these parts of the equation are indeed quantifiable, but we have already entered in to the realm of the people side of the question. Because for ADG to see its Mission and Vision fulfilled, each of the profitability drivers must themselves be driven by the desire for radical impact on people. Here are some examples:

Due-Diligence | As the reach of ADG grows, we have more frequent opportunities to consider adding to our portfolio. Some of you reading this article have been a part of helping us make these connections. As the pool gets deeper and the opportunities more frequent, we can be presented with comparable options, all of which may meet the profitability markers we are looking for. It is at that moment that we must make a determination about those in leadership inside each option to determine who is most likely to be on board with placing the radical impact of people on the same level of importance as future profitability. This factor can be the deciding one when selecting the option on which to move.

New Systems | The need for change is always evident in our due-diligence, but it is our experienced foresight on what changes are clearly needed and how those changes can impact the bottom line that makes ADG a valuable investment. But as we have all seen, corporate change done in a sterile vacuum with no consideration of the people it will affect can have disastrous consequences. There are real people inside each of those systems, some of whom were the architects of the systems and some whose employment relies on those systems being in place. It is our commitment to have frequent and detailed communication during change so we 1) honor those who have invested their time in the success of the company to date and 2) make it clear to each individual that change doesn’t have to be dominated by uncertainty. Does this kind of change management take more time? Of course it does. But it is this kind of investment in people that leads to radical impact. And it is this mindset that allows us to receive an even greater level of buy-in from the team that is already in place. This buy-in combined WITH the change, however aggressive, allows us to impact profitably.

Re-assignment | One of the things we have discovered is how good people are sometimes in a position that is not so good. The reason? They are fulfilling job descriptions that are tailor-made for what the company thinks it needs, not for what each individual is created to do. When we begin to implement system changes, we simultaneously implement people evaluations so we can tie skills and character to specific tasks, tasks that are best suited for that individual. This can of course lead to modification of duties OR a complete change in job title or description. The result is a workforce that is more content, less stressed, happier about walking in the door each day and, ultimately, more productive…and profitable.

You may have already read Jon Reed’s 4-part series on “Culture to Performance” (if not, we encourage you to take a few moments and check out this deep dive into this critical principle). In Part 3 of the series, Jon speaks to the idea of “Strategic Direction and Intent”. He postulates that “Strategic direction and intent…answer the “where are we going” and “why are we going there” questions that our teams ask. Without them, we are asking them to march forward without knowing which roads to take or why they’re even taking them.”

At ADG, we daily want to see clear answers to “where” and “why”. But we don’t want to keep that to ourselves. We want the teams in each portfolio company to have buy-in to the “why” and a clear understanding of the “where”. This can only be accomplished by maintaining an equal focus on profitability AND people. Because, at the end of the day, we want the radical impact to be seen in both.

Stephen Leckenby serves as ADG's Director of Communications

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