26 Feb Ron Wolf Blog Series – Step #9 to Building a Winning Organization
Ron Wolf Blog Series – Step #9 to Building a Winning Organization
(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 ninth and final in a series of blogs examining these stepping stones and how they relate to building success and improving our product within Cornerstone Development.)
Stepping Stone #9 – STAYING ON TOP
Ron Wolf titled his final chapter “Staying on Top” and I think it was a great way to finish this book. The reason I think this is because it’s sustaining your level of excellence. What he said that I love is that the Green Bay Packers established themselves as one of the top franchises in the NFL and when you get to the top you never want that to slip.
You always want to stay up at that level. That was always my goal and my worry for my company, and it was the same for Ron and the Packers. Complacency happens in all sectors of industry and life where you begin to take good things for granted and maybe even great things for granted. Your expectations change and the challenge is to not let that happen and to get up every day thinking there is a new opportunity to attack.
We look at that in the same way at Cornerstone Development because we look and challenge folks on goals and we re-set those goals every year. We make them an attainable stretch and we meet quarterly to ask ourselves, “Where are we? How are we doing? What are we going to do to make sure that we get there?” That’s what Mr. Wolf refers to in this chapter. He says, “OK, guys. Keep stepping back, keep analyzing yourself to understand what you can achieve” and then go about how you’re going to achieve it. So it requires an organization with the willingness to work hard, understand goals and really want to achieve those goals.
Competitors Take Notice
In the real estate world, just like in sports, when you achieve success the competition absolutely intensifies. Let me give you an example. Several years ago, we started Pilgrim Glen in Menomonee Falls and it went gangbusters. I was ‘shopped’ by my competition very often and I found that flattering. But I also had to watch what they would be doing. When I got wind of a new neighborhood that was proposed in Menomonee Falls they were doing the exact same things as we were but they did not own the rights to do so. So we had to call attention to that fact and the project never began. Flattery again comes into play by someone trying to mimic what you do, but you have to laugh because we’re not going to continue to do the exact things. We’re constantly working to do things better. In essence, they will always be a step behind.
Motivating Your Team to Stay On Top
Keeping your team on the same page and motivating them to want to keep your company on top comes down to good communication. I also think it comes down to recognizing what people are doing. So we have what we call our “Corny Awards” for Cornerstone. They are corny so everybody gets a chuckle out of them but the awards recognize our people for going above and beyond, not only for our customers but for our trades people and the municipalities in which we build. We want to impact those within our sphere of influence. So people can be nominated for Cornies and they get a little cash bonus, but I think that our people get a big kick out of the recognition.
As we close the book on this series I would like to say “Thanks, Mr. Wolf!” This book clearly resonated with me. What I found on the competitive side is that I’m a big sports fan, and I’ve always been a competitor, but the way he wrote the book did make it applicable to not just sporting organizations but to many different kinds of organizations. I liked when he tied in various football players, because you could then easily picture and grab ideas and thought processes that he had and apply them to what we do.
To sum it up, it was a great read and I highly recommend it to others who lead companies or organizations in some way, particularly here in the state of Wisconsin where you will recognize all of the names laced throughout his writing. He was a very successful leader, so why not try to glean ideas from somebody like that? I’m not going to forget this book. It’s a great one and I’m sure I will be reading it again in a year or two.