Marc Emmer is President of Optimize Inc., a California-based growth consultancy that specializes in strategic planning for mid-market businesses. Under his leadership, the firm has worked with more than 140 companies, helping management teams agree on strategic priorities and create visions for the future.
Considered an expert in strategic planning, Emmer has come to know a lot about building an effective growth strategy. He believes strategic planning should be managed like a cycle and not an event.
"I spend a lot of time cleaning up after other consulting firms and clients who try to plan themselves," he says. "Strategic planning is a 'garbage in, garbage out' exercise. The key is to spend a lot of time in the pre-work phase, researching the market and challenging management to develop data and information well before a planning meeting. The more you invest in the front end, the greater the return. Then, it is a matter of cascading goals and action items down through the organization to ensure execution.”
At the same time, he sees the science of management changing both today and in the years to come. "I think Silicon Valley is leading in terms of management practices," he says. "They have been hiring younger workers for years and creating agile management systems. More traditional businesses can learn from them. For example, OKR (objectives and key results) was born out of Intel and Google, but mature businesses are adopting similar systems to ensure their people are thriving and productive."
Some of Optimize's clients over the years have been building services contractors. At BSCAI's upcoming 2019 CEO Seminar on Jan. 24., he will give a session discussing his expertise and how it applies to BSCs, entitled "The Secret Sauce: A Recipe for Growth."
"Members should expect for me to challenge their thinking,” he says. “It's easy to get stuck in what you do every day, and I think great business leaders need to be critical thinkers. We need to think more about what we will do than what we did. We will talk about why customers buy and how companies can deliver unique value to the world."
Don't be surprised if he also addresses the challenges businesses are facing in the current operating environment. Among the biggest, he said, is "labor, labor, labor. I think the conventional systems for recruiting and retention are completely broken. For example, trying to assess a person's work readiness in a 45-minute Q&A [interview] is flawed. There is a distinct difference in how employers of choice approach employer branding and retention. So, we have been spending a lot of time helping them to deepen their employee engagement strategies and shift their performance management and feedback loops to be best-in-class."
These days, Emmer is also urging his clients to be aware of changes in the economy and how best to react to them. More and more economists are calling for a softening in 2019, but perhaps not a recession in the classic sense of the word. Emmer's take? "I think the economy has been bifurcated into companies that are growing and prospering because they are distinct, and those that are treading water. The best companies are embedding customer-facing technologies into their offering and creating internal systems that make them more productive. Then, they are telling their story better in a market that is very solutions-focused."
Technology will play a big role moving forward, too. "Obviously, artificial intelligence will change the world," Emmer predicted. "In 2019 and 2020, bots will take over customer service. Cybercurrencies are a fad, but blockchain will revolutionize payment systems. The technology that is not getting enough attention is 5G, which will increase data transmission speeds times 10."
Emmer is clearly passionate about what he does, and he hopes to communicate that passion to attendees at the upcoming BSCAI CEO Seminar. He concluded, "Our company’s mission statement is that we support entrepreneurs' pursuit of the American dream. An ideal we believe in deeply is that small and mid-market businesses create jobs and opportunity for all. We work with different management teams in different industries and different regions every day. We have the luxury of learning from every client and applying what we have learned to the next. It is truly interesting and fun work."
To hear Emmer speak, register for BSCAI's 2019 CEO Seminar, held in Grand Cayman. To learn more and to register, please visit out website.