[00:00:00.240] – David Maples
If the last decade is any indication, the single most determining factor on a future business’s success is going to be their ability to show that they have mental metal. That’s their ability to face change and adversity with grit and determination. That’s what we’ve devoted this entire season of The Buck stops here too. The first episode is about improving your mental metal. The most important way you can do that as a business owner is by adopting an agile mindset. It’s about improving your ability to change with the different circumstances you face on a daily basis. All that and more on this episode of The Buck Stops Here.
[00:00:48.420] – David Maples
Hello, and welcome back to Season 3 of The Buck Stops Here Business Podcast. I’m your host, David Maples, and we are diving into what we have titled Season 3, The Metal Business. Winston Churchill famously said, To improve is to change, but to be perfect is to change often. Now, that supposes in that quote that you never can really be perfect. You always are going to have to be changing depending on what’s going on in your life. We’re no different. With this season of the podcast, the second season, we had a series of episodes we did about artificial intelligence in particular.
[00:01:29.980] – David Maples
They were our most wildly successful episodes to date. I actually spoke at a couple of universities based on these topics. Even so, my main day job is I work for a digital marketing agency, Catapult, who helps put on this podcast and helps sponsors it. When I’m doing consulting and when I work with Catapult, we’ve been talking about how artificial intelligence is radically changing the landscape of business. When we talked about AI last season, what we determined or what came about was, as we were doing consulting work just after that, was that this is the most radical change in technology that’s going to affect every business across the face of this planet. They’re the largest changes that have ever happened in human history. It’s like the invention of the wheel or the discovery of fire. The printing press pales in comparison. What artificial intelligence will introduce into businesses over the coming months and years—and it’s going to be months is what it’s going to be for most of us—is radically going to change things. What we’re talking about is in Season 3, every episode is going to be embracing some aspect of change. How can you improve your mental metal?
[00:02:50.630] – David Maples
How can you face change with determination and grit in the face of change and adversity? We think that is probably going to be one of the most determinant factors of the business’s succeeding or failing in the coming months and years. It’s enough to have… If you get one change in a decade, that’s enough for most businesses. That’s as much they ever want to see. But we were talking about just in the past decade alone, like 2023, going back to 2015, we’ve seen digital transformations, the integration of digital technology into all areas of business. Globalization has really taken off. Businesses are more connected than ever before, ever in the past. Supply chains are the example and the warning to us who are in manufacturing in industry over the past few years. There’s a people who pooped. Globalization had had its day, and now the tide was going out. Ask anyone who’s have been involved into any product that they’ve had to get from the rest of the world. We’ve seen globalization and people have said that was a receding tide were proven vastly wrong when the Evergibbon got stuck in the Suez Canal back in 2021 and disrupted supply chains across the planet.
[00:04:17.450] – David Maples
Sustainability and social responsibility matter more than they’ve ever mattered anytime in the past. As those of us who are sitting on getting a front row seat to climate change, they’re starting to say, Well, maybe there’s good business and having a more sustainable business and the work we do, how it affects the planet, remote work and flexibility. It is here to stay. It happened during the pandemic and then businesses pushed back on it, and now it’s yo- yoing back the other way now. It turns out that having a remote hybrid workforce is a competitive advantage in the modern day and age. Having more personalization and customer centricity, the fact that we’re having to communicate with our customers on more platforms than ever before, omnichannel type things, regulatory changes like GDPR in Europe, and how companies are being forced to grapple with privacy and big data are major changes, and they’re changing across every industry and every business and affecting everyone. The rise of the gig economy, new employment models, freelance short-term work type things have really changed the traditional employment paradigm on its head. Companies being focused more on health and wellness, mental health and wellbeing in your job is something that businesses now talk about.
[00:05:39.510] – David Maples
Whereas 70 years ago, that’d be something that if you ever talked about those things at work, people would say, Shut up and quit crying. It’s not that this is a good change, but it shows that these things are important in businesses no matter what avenue you work in. Cybersecurity concerns, as we’ve seen the growth in the big technology companies, we have more data than ever before. The fact that cybersecurity is something that every company has to start thinking about big or small, at least on some level: blockchain, cryptocurrency, those things people said came and went, they’re not gone. They’re still there, and they are going to continue to be important in different sectors. Diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Again, this would be seen as a subset of another thing, except that it’s got a whole life of its own. These things are incredibly important in business. Last but not least is the rise of artificial intelligence and automation in businesses, which I say puts all the others in its great long shadow. But what we’re running into right now is that historically, one or two of these things in a decade would have been a lot to grapple with.
[00:06:56.220] – David Maples
I’ve just named what, 12? We are truly living in an interesting time. I think more than anything else of this podcast, the buck stops here has always been about being honest with yourself about where you’re going, where you’ve been, and what’s on the horizon. I think us as a podcast, we have to change just a little bit. We have to shift and say, Man, technology is used in every one of these things I just mentioned. How can we help be a guiding light on helping people figure out how they need to implement these things in their businesses? How can we talk about these things from a low level, from businesses are just starting up to a high level? Businesses are who are looking at using artificial intelligence to manage their supply chain and logistics issues. A lot of people don’t know this, but the research that the American government did into artificial intelligence to help manage logistics in the first Gulf War back in the ’90s paid for itself tenfold. All the research the federal government put into that to manage logistics, did you knew that our military uses artificial intelligence to manage its logistics?
[00:08:11.020] – David Maples
It’s a major thing, and they’ve been doing it for 30 years. So why am I talking about all these things? Because this is enough for a lot of business owners to just throw their hands up in the air and say, How do I do this? How could I possibly manage all these disparate things and not feel overwhelmed? You? The answer is you can’t. There is not any way to look at all 12 of these things at once and not feel totally woefully out of your depth. But the good thing is you’re in good company. Every one of us out there is struggling with the same things. What we find is that old adage, How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time? By looking at these things and breaking them down into the component parts, you can find a path through the forest. At the Buckstops here, we believe that your job, for good or for ill, is to help set the strategy, set the tone, and help define your way through this landscape. We said that Season 3 is going to be we’re going to be giving away albums. In the first album dedicated to these first couple of episodes, which are going to deal with the Agile framework.
[00:09:28.580] – David Maples
As we said, it’s a double entanglement, it’s a metal business. We’re also dedicated to metal music in all its forms over the past 40 years. We’re going to be talking about these things and giving away vinyl albums. The first album we’re going to be giving away is Rush’s 2112 album. This is a futuristic album. The reason I want to talk about that album just for a moment is because the overture to 21/12 is a song that deals with the priests of the temple of Sea Rings. Basically, it’s a song about rebellion. It’s about breaking the status quo and understanding that just because things have been done a certain way in the past doesn’t mean that’s the way you need to do them now. That’s really the theme a little bit for this episode. The status quo in business has to change. These 12 major landscape changes we’ve talked about are absolutely happening right now to businesses everywhere across the globe. We could talk about any industry that’s been affected. Pretty much you could trip over any industry. Every industry has been faced with a hiring crunch of challenges, everything. Everything from technology companies just scaled up really fast and overhired.
[00:10:45.110] – David Maples
To people who can’t find good employees now, as they say, because those employees’ needs have changed because they want remote work or they want a hybrid environment. Things have changed. They absolutely have. What we’re going to look at is the rebellious idea here is we want to talk about the importance of agility in business and what does agility in business mean? The best way to talk about business agility is the ability to adapt quickly to market changes both internally inside your company and externally without losing your momentum or vision in the marketplace. It’s not just about speed. It’s about flexibility, adaptability, and balance. It’s really easy to look at this and say, Oh, yeah, it’s just about speed. Speed is an important aspect of it. But the thing is, how do you remain clear? How do you remain true to your vision? How do you change gears without losing your momentum? That’s one of the big challenges a lot of people they lose sight of, is they try to adopt a natural framework. Now, agility in particular, what we’re talking about is taken from software development is one of the things that’s happened. I’ll talk about some businesses who’ve adopted an agile framework, et cetera.
[00:12:18.200] – David Maples
Netflix is a good example. Everybody is familiar with Netflix. Netflix is a streaming service. What they did was they actually were a mail order service for a long period of time. They were really using that as a challenge to how people used to rent movies. They had a mail order service. They actually, more so than most of the other competitors in the market, they were the first to market with a massive successful streaming platform. They did that by looking at the marketplace, seeing where they could have a first mover advantage, and then by putting in and deploying technology appropriately as they went into it. That’s a major thing. They did that and it was very successful for them. Another company that’s done it historically is that Amazon has now moved into arguably one of the most important e-commerce platform on the planet. They started out as a bookseller platform. I think a lot of people, even now, forget that they started out selling books and even textbooks to individuals, and they were not this e-commerce juggernaut back then. Then they’ve moved to a whole bunch of different quarterly industries. One of the things that they’ve done very successful is they have a large cloud computing business because it turns out if you run one of the world’s largest server farms and you need those servers to exist for Black Friday Christmas sales.
[00:13:50.020] – David Maples
The rest of the year you don’t need all of those computers. They had a whole bunch of excess capacity that wasn’t used for the rest of the year. One of the things they did very cleverly is they built out a whole cloud computing platform that now entire companies build their software on top of the hardware that Amazon services and handles. It’s really an amazing thing with showing how they shifted into other market-based places using a lot of technology and things that they already had to have for your other business. Some of the things you need to do for this in any of these companies is you have to foster a culture of continuous learning. You want to encourage innovation in your company, and you want to build strong relationships with your customers and suppliers. That’s one of the things that you have to really look at. There are some very successful companies that have adopted an agile framework. You could just look out the door. If you want to look at other companies that are going to have to adapt change, just things you can see. Not even talking about artificial intelligence right now, but talking about the auto industry.
[00:14:57.750] – David Maples
It’s having to embrace new emission standards and electric vehicles are here. We see there’s a constant shift towards electric vehicles. Brick & mortar moving online, and online companies like Casper, the mattress company, and things like that, moving now towards more an omnichannel approach. Dollar, Shave Club, and Harrys were two of the first companies to come up with the subscription model for Razors. They would mail them through your mail, et cetera. They’ve obviously had to adopt to the fact that that works to get early adopters, but that doesn’t work when you’re trying to move to a bigger part of the market. In those particular cases, you need to look at moving into retail and you need to look at the omnichannel approach. You also need to look and see how are you going to compete in the future as Gillette and Schick now move into, they’ve got more money than you do, and how are you going to compete with them as they move into those categories? One of the things is when this challenge drops on your doorstep in your business, you have to ask yourself how are you going to approach it? Are you going to have the mental, mental, and the fortitude to address those challenges and to face them with grit and determination?
[00:16:15.060] – David Maples
Or are you going to sell or close your doors? Because a lot of people will end up doing the latter. They may not want to deal with that. One of the things we want to talk about a little bit today, and in the next episode, we want to go into more detail on it and actually provide some frameworks. It is what an agile framework actually is. I want to talk a little bit about what an agile framework is, what it is not, and I’m going to provide a basic thing on it. There are entire books that are written on agile and Scrum management. I mean, they just are. There’s a lot of different pieces on there. What I want to give you right now is a—and this will come in the… This will come in the newsletter. It’s going to be things that you can actually look at putting into your own business. The first step in it is you want to start your framework out with a defined vision. It’s about breaking things down into digestible tasks, et cetera. You define the vision. Where are you trying to get to? Where are you trying to go in your business over the next month or two, et cetera?
[00:17:26.190] – David Maples
What is a clear vision and objectives for your project or task? What value do you want to deliver to your customers or stakeholders? That’s going to help guide all your actions through this next period of things you’re trying to do. You take a project, whatever it is, maybe the project is something like, you want to be sending out press releases on a regular basis to media based on what your company does. The next thing you have to do is your step two is you’re going to have to break that work down into tasks. This will work for anything, any project that you’re trying to do, a project-based piece. This doesn’t mean you get rid of how everything else you do in your bookkeeping billing, but maybe you need to build out a new set of books for your company. What you want to do is you want to break down your work into tasks, which are smaller manageable pieces. You’re going to prioritize your tasks, and we’ll talk a little bit more about implementing this in the next episode of the podcast. It’s going to be based on their importance, value, and urgency. You’re going to figure out which tasks are important to have done during that time frame and which ones are not.
[00:18:29.840] – David Maples
The next piece you’re going to look at is each set of your tasks. You’re going to go back and analyze them over the course of whatever time period you have. If you’ve said your task is going to be a week or two weeks, you’re going to be analyzing that and you’re going to be coming through this each time and seeing what worked for you and what didn’t work. And you’re going to try to complete the highest priority tasks when in each set period of time you have there. Each task, which should be something that can be completed within a defined time period. And for most people, they divide these things and in software they call them sprints. And sprints are typically two weeks at a stretch. But for you, you want to come up with each of these projects and divide them out into a time period of 1-2 weeks. And by the way, don’t overthink this. This is about an agile framework for the rest of us. You’re going to have daily stand-up meetings where every person involved is going to quickly update what they did yesterday, what they’re planning today, and any obstacles they’re facing.
[00:19:26.400] – David Maples
And then at the end of each sprint, that one or two-week period, you’re going to have a review and reflecting retrospective. We’re going to go back and you’re going to look at each one of these task sprints that you did and say, What worked? What didn’t? What can we do better? Then you’re going to adapt and you’re going to iterate in your next sprint. You’re going to take the things that didn’t work last time and you’re going to prove them moving forward. As you do these things, you want to get feedback from your customers. You’re going to want to ask your customers, Hey, how did this work for you? Does this work better for you now? Then at the end of each, there are going to be a set of milestones you eventually hit. The thing about it is you want to celebrate the wins with your team. That’s a short, agile framework that we believe that most small businesses can look into for any project-based thing they’re trying to do. Just think about in your business right now, a large business or small business, think about any project that involves multiple people that you need to break down or maybe a task that you need to do that has a lot of different parts.
[00:20:27.750] – David Maples
By separating it out into digestible pieces, you can have tangible advancement. Because you’re tackling the most important pieces of your project first, you end up at the end of that short period of time, you end up with a lot of value and meaning in those things. When you start looking at change and something in your business that’s happened, supply chain disruption, whatever it is, you can take those and you can apply the same methodology and framework to those kinds of things or those change. That’s a way that you become more agile as a business and you are able to face and handle these problems when they occur, because they will occur. You can actually look at those and say, Okay, is there a better way for me to do this moving forward? One of the last things I want to talk about is if you’re going to be building resilience into your business, you want to look at the strategies you’re employed to improve resilience. It’s going to be really important that you really look hard at your company culture. What are your core values for your company? What are the shared values amongst people in your company?
[00:21:37.750] – David Maples
How can we reinforce that? Because when you introduce these new things, or when you have change, you need to make sure that everybody who’s involved with your company, every single person understands why you’re trying to move towards this new framework or why you’re trying to adopt these new skills and behaviors because they’re going to be very crucially important in what you accomplish in the long run. You want to work on continuous learning. You want any person in your company to understand the problems that you’re facing, and you want to reinforce the idea that learning more about the problem and improving their own skill set will help everybody in the company. Then you’re going to want to look at new technology pieces that you can put into place. In particular, I’m going to suggest that with all of these things, you need to take a hard look right now at how artificial intelligence can be put in place in your business to help with any of the challenges you’re facing right now. For example, if you have a personnel shortage in hiring, maybe see if there’s pieces of those people you’re trying to hire that you might be able to replace and automate with machines.
[00:22:43.000] – David Maples
That way, you don’t have to lay off your own team, but you can look at becoming a more resilient and possibly a more profitable company by talking to the people who are involved in your business in a realistic fashion. That’s the overview on how do you improve your mental, metal as a business and how do you embrace agility in facing change in the marketplace. That’s the idea from it. The first thing to do is you want to look and see of the 12 things we listed at the beginning of the episode, which of those challenges have you faced? Do you have solutions or answers for them? Number two, you want to look at using that sign up for the newsletter and you’ll get a copy of that agile framework that you can put in your own business. See which of these particular problems that your business is facing. It may not be any in the list. It could be something completely different and not on there. You want to look at that list of challenges or problems that you’re facing and see how you could look at employing that agile framework into making a real change on those things in a very quick fashion.
[00:23:49.760] – David Maples
Number three, the last thing you want to do is you want to look at how can you reinforce the people within your organization. Because right now, all organizations are still made up of people. You want to see how can you build resilience into your company? How can you reinforce your company culture? How can you improve the continuous learning aspect of it or cross-train people in different areas? Then how can you innovate adopting new technologies and strategies? That’s everything I’ve got to say today about increasing the mental fortitude in your business and about adopting an agile framework. I cannot express enough how important this will be in the coming days and years. And be a little rebellious. Some of the things we’re talking about adapting have been used very effectively in software, but maybe they’ve never been put in your company before. But there’s a reason it works there and there’s no reason why it can’t work in your company. In the next episode, we’ll talk a little bit more about how we were inspired a little bit by Rush. There’s a song on that album called Lessons, which is about learning from things you’ve done or things you’ve been through, and that’s very, very appropriate.
[00:25:01.620] – David Maples
What we’re going to talk about in the next episode is about how do you actually go and put these frameworks in there. We’re going to discuss the different frameworks in there, talk a little bit about how you can look at any of these changes or disrupts in your marketplace as an opportunity. For example, every challenge at any business represents a corollary opportunity. In your particular business, one of these problems may be something you handled. Maybe you haven’t been thinking about talking to the marketplace about how you solve that particular problem, and that’s a huge advantage for you. We’re also going to be talking about the human element, like why leadership, teamwork, and communication has never been more important than it is today. That’s what the next episode is going to be about. We’re going to give you a little more frameworks. We’re going to talk a little bit more about the agile frameworks, about how you can look at adopting them in your particular organization or business. That wraps up another exciting episode of The Buck Stops Here. Thank you for tuning in and us. If you like today’s episode, please leave us a review on Apple Podcast.
[00:26:04.860] – David Maples
Your feedback is greatly appreciated and helps us improve, and it also helps other business owners like you find the show. Don’t forget to follow us on social media. That’s Twitter or X, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for giveaways, updates, and exclusive content. I’m David Maples. Be well, be awesome, and have a great week.