Updated: Sep 4, 2020
“ If you don’t out-innovate yourself -- someone else is going to do it for you. Change is going to happen, and if you can be the driver of that change, and have some semblance of control over it, you are in a much better position to survive and thrive.”
Andy Blake joined Reverie Organizational Development Specialists as a Strategic Advisor. Reverie Strategic Advisors are industry experts affiliated to contract with Reverie on client projects. We utilize our strategic advisor program in order to build an ultra-competitive team with industry or vertical-specific knowledge, allowing our clients to have access to otherwise inaccessible resources.
Andy comes to Reverie with an expansive background in various industries making it easier to identify what he hasn’t done; which is medical and pharmaceuticals. He has experienced business from many vantage points, with the majority of his time spent in an executive or C-level role.
As a strategic advisor, Andy will work with Reverie clients to act as a sounding board for business leaders; helping them to surface issues and problems in the organization, questioning and listening, helping to articulate their vision, and assisting with implementing key innovation, strategy, and foundational processes required to scale their business.
Q: What strengths do you possess that will benefit Reverie clients?
A: Appreciation for culture and vision. Many consults (in my experience) tend to miss the boat on that. They tend to over-focus on strategy and tactics and less on the people. I believe the key to success in any organization lies in the ability of leadership to build a culture where talented people can thrive because they embrace the company mission and vision, taking personal ownership in their area of responsibility, and holding themselves accountable for delivering results. This requires a deliberate and relentless focus on organizational development. Getting the right people in the right seats is a good start. Retaining and keeping them engaged and excited to come to work is the other part. If leadership fails at this, regardless of whether or not the company possesses the best strategy, product, or technology the world has ever seen, it will fail, as culture absolutely trumps all of these important ingredients. Not many entrepreneurs and business leaders understand this. Most think they can pull off success and sustainability without the hard work required to build an organizational culture that is informed, motivated, engaged, excited, and accountable. That just doesn’t happen without a deliberate, consistent, and focused effort on organizational development; especially in an age of relentless change and the added challenge of remote workers.
Q: It sounds like you invest a lot of attention in talent management.
A: For me, it is about getting the culture right primarily by picking the right people, and getting everyone in the right seat. No matter how smart you are as an owner or a leader - if you don’t have exceptionally competent people who love what they do - it’s just not going to happen. It will be a battle that will stress you to your limit and one you won’t win; either because your health will fail you, or you will give up prematurely. Hopefully, you will come to Reverie before any of this happens!
Q: You have been very successful at helping companies grow strategically; is that your secret?
A: At the risk of being repetitive, you absolutely cannot scale your business until you learn to let go, and you only let go when you have great people who share your vision and who are willing to go the extra mile for that vision.
Q: With the amount of success you have had running companies you must have a go-to leadership style.
A: I’m the kind of leader who is extremely focused, aggressive, and relentlessly working on getting things done and getting results. At the same time, I’ve learned to be a good listener, as well as vulnerable and transparent with the organization on how to go about getting those results. I’ve learned that of the 10 ways to get something done, two don’t work, but eight most likely will be successful. Of the eight, I may favor one or two of the approaches, but my team members/colleagues may want to implement one of the other remaining six or seven. I have learned to keep an open mind and trust smart people to get the job done the way they would like to do it, even if it is not my approach or necessarily the most efficient. This enables people to take ownership, learn from their mistakes, and grow. That is the job of effective leadership, and that is my mindset...especially guiding people on a decision-making process that minimizes the probability of implementing one of the two failing approaches!
Q: Is it safe to say you approach leadership the same way when you work with clients?
A: When working with clients, you must be a good listener. I’m a visionary and innovator, but in this case, I’m there to assist the leadership with their original vision and possibly help them find a better way to do it, both strategically and tactically. I help them figure out what is or is not working, and help reignite their energy and enthusiasm about getting back on track.
Q: You mentioned that you are assisting with the original vision, what do you mean by that?
A: This is exciting for me. I am very happy to get to help the small to medium cap business owners and leaders generate new ideas and solutions to commercial and organizational problems that align with and build upon that original vision. For example, I like to pull ideas that have been successful in one industry into a completely different vertical.
Q: Do you determine client type based on industry, or a different qualification?
A: Unsurprisingly, I have a client profile model that I use to determine fit, and there are a few characteristics that must be present.
My ideal client is an entrepreneur, owner, or business leader who is passionate about what they are trying to do in their business. They need to have an open mind and be coachable, as well as having a growth and innovation orientation.
I have spent a lot of time in leadership roles. I learned many lessons the hard way. I want to help them navigate the challenges and take advantage of the hidden and obvious growth opportunities while avoiding the potholes I have experienced.
Q: How would a business leader identify whether or not the time is right to bring in Reverie?
A: An obvious time to bring in Reverie is when the company is at that inflection point of figuring out how to scale. Or, perhaps ownership and/or leadership are stuck and unsure about how to become “unstuck” to move forward. Maybe they are facing a number of problems that are driving them crazy and stalling forward progress. It could be that they have a competitive issue and it looks like they will become obsolete without making significant changes. Maybe the founder is looking to transition the business to a new ownership and/or next generation of leadership. Possibly that they are a family company needing assistance from an outsider to assist with solving complex issues that come along with family businesses. There are any number of reasons to bring in Reverie, but the #1 reason is the owner or leader of the business is approaching “burnout” (or the kind of stress I mentioned earlier) and/or believes that the business is stagnating or will not survive if it continues down its current path.
Q: In most of your scenarios there is an element of change. Am I sensing a trend in your business practice?
A: All business leaders have to learn to safely jump into the pool of change and innovation. The water might be murky, and you can’t see below you, but don’t be afraid. I can help you swim in that water because I’m used to it, and quite frankly, having gone through wrenching changes in business over the years, I’ve learned to embrace change and embrace a process of change. That is one of the things Reverie can help with: learning to embrace change - not as something that is a threat, but as something that is fresh and really kind of cool. Change is a constant these days, and I don’t think companies can survive without embracing it. Change is going to happen, and if you can be the driver of change and have some semblance of control over it you are in a better position to survive and thrive. In other words, If you don’t out-innovate yourself - someone else is going to do it for you...and the result could obsolete your business.
For more information about Reverie Organizational Design Specialists visit www.findreverie.com. The team takes on a variety of clients across multiple industries. The team has a shared vision of helping business leaders rediscover and reinvigorate their dream.