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ClearPoint CTO Bain Hollister – 4 takeouts from Harvard OPM

Last week we welcomed Bain back from Boston, who says he returned with a “full brain” after having completed Unit I of the 53rd Owner President Programme (“OPM53”).

So what’s his brain full of? We find out some takeouts Bain has picked up Harvard through his internal presentation series.

  1. Growth alone is not a strategy

Many companies cite growth as part of their strategy, yet growth itself is not a strategy. Strategy is an integrated set of choices you make as an organisation to create value and competitive advantage with your customers. Growth is simply a by-product of good strategy and great execution. As part of the course, we studied many case studies from diverse businesses. Nearly all reinforce the idea if you put your clients at the centre of everything you do and work hard to create value for them, growth will follow.

  1. People, culture and values are absolutely everything in a service business

When we ask our team what’s the best thing about working at ClearPoint, our people repeatedly tell us they love the culture here. How can you tell if you have a good culture? The way your people act and behave when you’re not around is representative of your culture. Culture itself is the outcome of the people you hire and bring into your organisation.  Our culture is a direct function of our people – and it is very precious indeed.

  1. It’s important to lead from the front

As leaders in a professional services organisation our primary roles are as Producers, Leaders and Managers. However it’s important we lead from the front in order to stay engaged and keep our mental models and skills up to date. The best way to do this is to remain hands on, to muck in wherever possible and keep doing field work. In doing this we stay fresh, engaged with our teams, in touch with emerging technologies and connected with our clients.

  1. Kaizen, Jaidoka the “Andon cord” and organisational learning

Bill Gates once said “Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” Many of our greatest learnings comes from the things that don’t go so well and organisations should value these opportunities.

The Kaizen approach of continual improvement has long been important in the manufacturing industry and it’s just as important for service companies. At Toyota they have this wonderful idea of an “Andon cord” which anyone can pull at any time to stop work if there’s a problem. Once pulled, the entire team comes together to figure out a solution. What’s really interesting about their culture around this is that pulling the cord is considered a good thing – it’s encouraged. It’s not looked at from a “what’s gone wrong here” viewpoint, but rather “what can we learn here” and that’s pretty cool.

For us there are clear parallels between Toyota’s improvement systems and our approach to building software at ClearPoint.  We have quality built into our process, decentralisation of controls, team work and accountability. These ingredients combined with a desire for continuous improvement and support from senior leadership help create a winning formula.

If you’d like to find out more about Bain’s trip to Harvard, please fire us an email at lou.eaton@clearpoint.co.nz or call 027 925 3912. 


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