Ron Wolf Blog Series – Step #6 to Building a Winning Organization

Ron Wolf Blog Series – Step #6 to Building a Winning Organization


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(Editor’s Note: Cornerstone Development had the honor of hosting a private dinner event with former Green Bay Packers General Manager Ron Wolf.  Besides being treated to a host of great inside football stories (and maybe a tall tale or two!), Mr. Wolf was kind enough to share some excellent business insights which he detailed in his book, The Packer Way: Nine Stepping Stones to Building a Winning Organization. The following is the sixth in a series of blogs examining these stepping stones and how they relate to building success and improving our product within Cornerstone Development.)

STEP #6: Making It Work

When he speaks about “Making It Work,” what Ron calls out is a need for a system-based outcome so that you follow processes.  You put people in place and you suggest and show people how to develop the right instincts to follow the processes and system that you have. Then, your outcomes will be successful.

I think we do the same thing here at Cornerstone Development. We have our construction managers and our sales team embrace our neighborhoods and have a plan for building them out, have a plan for working with each of our customers and the outcome is a positive place for people to live, a place that is well-built.

Being a “system employee” can be a plus to a degree but in any good organization you have an ebb and a flow. You’re never going to truly walk a straight line. For example, we have a customer here in Sussex whose husband passed away. She moved into our neighborhood under very trying circumstances.  Our people sought to react in a way to make sure she was comfortable and that she knows we are there for her. We want to reassure her that things are going to be OK.

Yes, you need to have the system and the processes in place but you can’t be so beholding to them that you don’t recognize the things that are around you on a daily basis. You need to help others that are within your sphere of influence.

Inspiring Innovation & Creative Thinking

If you want your employees to be innovative and creative in how they handle your customers and others within their sphere of influence you have to show them examples of what you’re looking for. In a previous neighborhood we built, one couple lost their son. We put on a nice lasagna dinner. You show people that you are willing to do something special, that you’re willing to go that extra mile.

Let’s say that I’m out in a neighborhood and I see some trash that ended up in the parking lot. Or, my least favorite thing – cigarette butts. I get down to pick them up and get rid of them. That’s the example you’ve got to give to show your people that they need to do the little things that make this place special and looking great. I think leading by example and showing people what they need to do is the best way to help your employees to have their hearts in the right place when they are making their own decisions.

Patience & Principles

In my view, there are two other key factors in making things work within a winning organization: patience and principles. With all of the rain we had this spring, patience has certainly been an important part of our approach. Sometimes, it’s so frustrating when something like the weather interrupts everything you’re trying to do but if the Lord wants it to rain, it’s going to rain. What are you going to do?

Then there is the quest to always do the right things. I tell our people that they have to follow the principle of “Did we do the right thing?” If you ever have to make a quick decision I’ll back you 100 percent if you said to yourself in making that decision, “Hey – is this the right thing?”

Finally – and it’s a real tribute to Ron Wolf and his accomplishments – is having the diligence to get things done right and always to have process improvement. You must always be looking to get better.  It’s funny, he says you shouldn’t hire people from your past who’ve worked with you in other places because, generally, it doesn’t work out.

That may be true but I think his larger point is that you always want eyes that are willing to be fresh so that you keep trying to improve as you move forward. That’s something we completely embrace here at Cornerstone Development.


Next Time:  Ron Wolf’s Seventh Stepping Stone – Keeping It Going