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CBU MBA graduate class of 2010. Also known as Erin Wiles.

Kevin – Best Laid Plans


200x120Okay, I am the CEO of my organization in this crazy Business Strategy Game and my team has taken it on the chin for the last two weeks!  So what did I do?  I acted as any respectable CEO would, blamed my CMO for having faulty market intelligence, I blamed my CIO for having terrible system and information infrastructure and I blamed my COO for deciding to go on maternity leave in the middle of our game! Right?  Wrong!  This is not Enron, this is Hayley’s Comets.  As acting CEO, I thought back to my first job 37 years ago and asked myself, “what did I do when I faced obstacles?”  What I remembered was that I assessed obstacles and found a way to adapt and overcome.  This is a theme that has permeated my life through a devastating motorcycle crash, football, baseball, Marine Corps, and multiple years in construction from field installation to divisional Vice President.  So what did I do back in 1973 that transformed my thinking process?

I was in the 3rd grade and I wanted to make some money, so I went around the neighborhood and convinced several home owners to allow me to mow their lawn.  One problem, my parents would not allow me to operate the lawnmower by myself.  So here I was, a successful salesman at the ripe old age of 8 ½ and I had a production problem.  I soon found out that if you have sales, you can solve almost anything.  I networked with some of the older kids in the neighborhood and discovered they also wanted to make money but did not want to ask for the business.  So, we pooled our resources and we were in business. The end result, I was a business owner at the age of 8 ½ with two part-time employees (1099 of course) and I had the opportunity to sit on the porch and solidify my relationships with our customer base while my production crew did a fantastic job of delivering the services as promised.

So, fast forward 37 years and now I am faced with another issue that needs to be resolved – we have to get our BSG numbers up!  We have not one but TWO world class ranked teams in our cohort we are competing with and we are struggling.  So what is the solution?  I can’t let you in on that one completely but I do know one thing, when you are down and need a hand sometimes the best thing to do is find someone who is struggling with things of their own, reach out, and help them.  It just may make your situation better as well.  So, my team and I are looking for someone to help and hopefully in the process discover the advantage we need to increase our performance.  If not, at least we did the right thing.

I can honestly say this, our strategy is solid, our execution is getting better, and our results will demonstrate an understanding and application of business strategy.  Now, two bad business weeks in a row is very difficult for a Competitive person like myself to deal with.  But then again, the strategy is not always apparent when you first look at it.  With that being said, stay tuned for the Paul Harvey (for you youngsters, that means…”The rest of the story.”)

This again is the very reason I am pursuing my MBA at the ripe old age of 45, to enhance my skills and effectiveness at the craft I have chosen.  The proverbial icing on the cake is the opportunity to work side by side with some of the smartest and most strategic-minded individuals I have ever had the pleasure to encounter.

If you’re on the fence about pursuing your MBA, get off and get into the game. I once asked a dear friend of mine if he felt it was good at my age to go back to school and finish my undergraduate degree, something I had wanted to do for several years.  He paused, stared deeply in my eyes, (you know the way only a real close friend who knows how goofy you really are can) and replied rather boldly, “Kevin, how old will you be in four years if you finish your degree?”  I replied sort of smugly, “43”, (he knew how old I would be then).  He then asked me the most profound question I could have ever heard at that time, he spoke slowly, deliberately, and softly, “Kevin, how old will you be in four years if you don’t finish your degree?”  I replied sheepishly, “43”.  He then said, “So, the question is not whether you will be 43 in four years, the question is will you have completed your degree when you are 43?”  I graduated Summa Cum Laude, four years later.  Now I am 45 and finishing my MBA…..until next time.

Kevin Fleming
Owner of KTF Consulting
MBA Concentration: Undecided
Graduating: May 2011

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