CEO of Software Company Purchased by Oracle

When I met Peter, I was CEO of a rapidly growing company looking at some tough organizational issues. Unfortunately we were in crunch mode, so we found it too hard to justify the cost. (Looking back, I really wish we had found the money; Peter’s help would have been even more valuable during that tough period than it was later on.)

We stayed in touch and kept the dialogue going, and I knew that as soon as we “had the money,” I was going to hire Peter to coach me and several members of my executive and sales team.

Shortly after the crunch eased, we found ourselves in an aggressive growth period, facing all kinds of internal challenges. We had a young, inexperienced, and motivated management team trying to address big new opportunities, scrambling to organize themselves and execute effectively. We wanted and needed guidance that we couldn’t get internally.

That’s when we brought Peter in, to act as a sounding board, coach, and guide. He helped us navigate these challenges, and helped us determine if team members were meeting objectives. He quickly became the person they could go to when they faced tough issues, knowing that he would provide solid guidance.

Because he was working with the entire team, not only did individual performance get stronger, but we radically improved cross-silo performance as well. Everyone on the leadership team viewed him as a strong colleague.

Here’s why Peter was so effective: our team members were managing groups and budgets and revenue objectives substantially larger than they had ever done before.

The tools and ways of doing things that had gotten them to this point weren’t serving them any longer. The new tools and skills they needed were in the personal growth category.

With Peter’s help, a couple of the Team Leads significantly altered the way they went about things. They became more conscious of their impact on others, more constructive and collaborative.

For me as CEO, Peter’s greatest impact came in conversations that I just couldn’t have with individual team leaders. He helped me take honest stock of circumstances, and guided me to make good decisions through his insights and depth of experience.

What makes Peter effective is his ability to listen, to encourage, and to guide me to find my own way to the core of the issue. I think of him as a kind of “business therapist,” empowering me to navigate the people, process and execution challenges. He helped me sort out contributing factors and challenges, and got me to focus on what was essential to resolve the situation. Often, under his gaze, things that appeared to be OK turned out to be issues that needed our attention.

I’ve worked with lots of consultants who get brought in to serve a particular purpose, and everyone in the organization thinks of them as temporary outsiders. Peter has a way of building fantastic relationships. Everyone accepted him as a core team member, as one of their peers.

My company (since bought by Oracle) was a software company. Software is a people business; you can’t make, sell, or support software without talented, committed, experienced, mature people. Getting the people right is the only job; if you can’t do that well, nothing else matters.

The consequences of high turnover are disastrous. If you make a bad hire or lose a good one, it takes four months to find a replacement, four months to bring them up to speed, six months to figure out if you’ve got it wrong, and six months to try to fix it before you realize you can’t fix it and have to start all over again.

With Peter’s help, we improved how we hired and retained employees. We implemented efficient customer service processes so we were able to address new and complex customer problems effectively. We dealt with the escalating expectations of our customers, and lowered our risks and increased our capability for rapid and high quality execution. The ROI has been substantial.

Like I said, my only regret is not hiring Peter early on, during that crunch time when we were dealing with really big challenges. Given the right access and mandate, I can’t imagine a situation where Peter wouldn’t positively affect just about any organization.

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