Strategic Planning to Shift Culture: The Petra Case Study

Bill Stewart
Bill Stewart, owner of Petra

Almost exactly a year ago, I was sitting in the CEA executive lounge at the Consumer Electronics Show, explaining to a friend about the business I was starting. I was grabbing a quick lunch – just enough time to rest my feet and have a few minutes away from the excitement and energy of the show floor. “I’m providing strategic planning and business advising services,” I told my colleague between bites of a salad and grilled chicken. Bill Stewart, owner of Petra and compatriot in sore feet, happened to be sitting at our table. I had only barely finished my sentence when Bill leaned over to me and said: “I believe I could use your help. Can we talk?”

In my line of work, that’s the kind of question you answer immediately. (Little did I know, “Let’s just do it,” was Bill’s catch phrase). I was eager to see how I might help a mature company like Petra. A very successful distributor of Consumer Electronic Accessories, they’ve been around for more than 28 years, growing from a small boutique business to one of the most prestigious and profitable companies in the accessory business.

That’s the first half of the story. But growth and success – the very things business owners strive for – always bring their own set of challenges . . . and that’s why my conversation with a colleague sparked Bill’s interest. He had realized that the culture of Petra was built on a few very important key people. Equal parts methodical and forward-thinking, Bill recognized this was not the long-term solution, and was concerned about possible burn-out among his key executives. And that’s the second part of the story. He wanted to take Petra to the next level, and in doing so, expand the work load beyond his trusted and excellent executive team.

He had been searching for a strategic planning and culture shift consultant for some time in the Oklahoma market, but he had struggled to find someone who understood his business. In spending some time with Bill after the CE show, I got a chance to learn more about what Petra needed, and to talk to Bill about what that pathway to an enhanced culture could look like. Ultimately, he contracted with ChangingVelocity to coach and lead a major strategic planning process throughout the company. I started as I always do: by meeting with the executive team and listening to their concerns and needs. A total of 30 employees participated in a day-long planning session to develop goals. I also researched the company externally and took time to learn the key issues.704057_596319873716712_1574096682_o

My combined knowledge in consumer electronics, workplace performance, enabled work teams, and strategic planning allowed me to help Petra tweak their planning processes, so that the culture extended beyond the executive team and empowered rising star employees to pursue initiatives. Ultimately, six managers were placed in new “champion” roles to pursue key initiatives. This frees the executive team to focus on mentoring, coaching, and removing obstacles. ChangingVelocity’s strategic planning process provided the framework for changing how work gets done, and moving decision making “down the ladder.”

Our mutual tired feet may have been the catalyst for our meeting, but Bill and I clicked because I understand his industry . . . and I understand the demands of owning a business, and what goes into taking an organization to the next level. “You didn’t come in here wearing a suit and carrying a black briefcase,” Bill says. “You came in and listened. I could have hired a facilitator in our marketplace, but they would not have dug in with my executive team and really been a trusted advisor.”

I don’t think Bill will mind me saying that he is true to his Oklahoma roots. You can’t just come in with a bunch of fancy terminology. Oklahoma folk want to see what you can actually do before they trust you. That’s another reason why we clicked: we are both people of action and results.

I would love to show you the process . . . and bring you results. If you’re looking for a trusted advisor to help facilitate a strategic process in your organization – and to really dig in – contact me to have a chat.

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