Business Operating Systems for the Auto Industry with Preston True

Business Operating Systems for the Auto Industry with Preston True

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Following her eye-opening interview with Mary Buchzeiger, CEO of Lucerne International, Jan wanted to know about how companies can achieve their long-term visions with business operating systems. To understand the concept, Jan speaks with Preston True, the coach who helped Mary establish a goals-driven culture at Lucerne.

Preston says that, fundamentally, there’s no difference between a tiny startup and a multinational corporation. Businesses of any size can develop successful operating systems built on the same simple frameworks.

A lot of leaders think that their company is too unique or different for Preston’s ideas to work for them, but he’s never found that to be true. Speaking from personal experience with both business success and the dark moments of entrepreneurship, Preston makes the case that a few guiding principles can help any organization radically transform its goal-setting process.

“There’s no magic in this whole process,” Preston says. “It’s really just reverse engineering. I want to ask the question — what do I need to do today that’s going to give me the result that I want 10 years out?

Too often the automotive industry relies on lagging indicators to measure progress toward goals. Preston explains how better accountability and a “dumbed-down” vision can create a more effective growth plan.

Join this special episode of the Automotive Leaders Podcast as Jan and Preston get real about why so many organizations overcomplicate their strategies and discuss how crystal-clear expectations and frequent course corrections can help any business succeed.

Themes discussed on this episode: 

  • The functional components of organizing a business
  • The frameworks that make a business operating system
  • Why people need to have a cultural fit and a productivity fit
  • The process of reverse engineering day-to-day priorities
  • Why many automotive companies fail in their strategic initiatives
  • How leadership can effectively hold employees accountable
  • The importance of empathy and challenge in giving feedback

Featured Guest: Preston True

What he does: Preston is an entrepreneurial leadership coach and business operating systems guru. His consultancy, Get TPA Fit, helps companies go “from stuck to unstoppable” with consistent, measurable growth. He’s also a founding member of Pinnacle Business Guides.

On leadership: “[Resiliency] is not just, I can weather each quarter or I have the stamina to do great work over long periods of time. It's actually in that moment when you and I may have a disagreement, in which case, I can not fall victim to all the stories that are manufactured in my mind. [...] You're offering me feedback. It might be a little tough [but] what a great opportunity and a gift.” 

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[0:57] Diving deeper: This is a special episode — Jan explains how her interview with Mary Buchzeiger of Lucerne International struck a chord about business operating systems.

[2:38] ‘It’s not magic’: Preston explains how organizing a business starts with some fundamental functional components.

[5:06] Components defined: Jan wants details, and Preston names the five frameworks that create a strong business operating system.

[7:07] From excuse to opportunity: Preston calls out the number one reason companies give to justify their underperformance and says organizations need to “dumb things down.”

[10:07] The right people in the right seats: Where does Preston begin when he consults with a business? He breaks down how to think about forming teams and the operational pipeline. Ignoring this principle is enormously costly.

[14:30] Big, hairy, audacious goals: Jan expresses the dangers of leaders staying in the weeds, and Preston explains how reverse engineering a goal helps set priorities.

[17:56] Top of the mind: Jan observes that many automotive companies struggle with keeping to their strategic initiatives. Preston suggests how to keep goals front and center.

[20:28] See it in action: Does a business operating system really work? Preston gives examples of past and present clients who have found success with these simple tactics.

[23:26] ‘Peer pressure works’: Goal-setting is great in theory, but how do you hold people accountable to prioritize the right behaviors? Preston explains how and why small course corrections keep everyone on track.

[27:38] Advice for auto industry leaders: Preston invites anyone in leadership to see feedback as an opportunity and a gift. Empathy and a willingness to challenge others must be present.

Top quotes

[3:44] Preston: “A three-person company, when it comes to organizing itself isn't, isn't really that much different than a 30,000-person company. There are different flavors of the issues and different flavors of the opportunity, but fundamentally, it boils down to a few core components that you want to strengthen.”

[7:46] Preston: “I have worked with over 150 organizations in the last nine years. They have all said to me, Yeah, but we're unique, or We're different. The reason they're saying it turns out the exact same every single time — We just don't want to do the heavy lifting required to make ourselves stronger, faster, and smarter.”

[13:25] Preston: “Jim Collins said in his ‘Good to Great’ book, you have to get the right people in the right seats on the bus, then let’s figure out where that bus is going. I want to do both simultaneously. I don't want to be driving aimlessly.”

[26:51] Jan: “There has to be a safe environment in which to operate. There has to be transparency to those metrics, and there has to be trust. In so many organizations, if I'm missing my metric, I don't want to tell you because I don't want you to jump on me […] It takes a very strong leader to create that environment of psychological safety and also promote trust.”

[30:12] Preston: “Imagine if we consistently challenged each other not to just be better generally but to say, you have a goal, you have a desire […] How can I help you and challenge you to be better at what you're doing in the next five minutes than you were the last five minutes?”