Change is a Constant, But You Can Stack the Deck for Success

by | Oct 29, 2014

Dave Pottruck

Former CEO of Charles Schwab, Dave Pottruck knows all too well about some of the tough realities of leading breakthrough change.

“I did what I had to do: I downsized a 25,000-person company by 10,000 people. But I was slow and uncertain, and had trouble coping with this new reality of my job. I was emotionally paralyzed…I had stopped leading change, and instead I became a change that someone else needed to make.”

In Pottruck’s new book Stacking the Deck: How to Lead Breakthrough Change Against Any Odds, he presents leaders with a 9-step course of action that he says will inspire meaningful, lasting change across an organization—whether the challenge is introducing a new product, expanding into a new territory, or handling a difficult downsizing. Examples from many prominent CEOs pepper the story. Learn Pottruck’s 9-step process to leading organizational change based off of his highly acclaimed CorpU course.

Following are just a few of Pottruck’s words of wisdom.

From the chapter “Innovation: Ideas and Perspectives”

“The best and most successful companies are adept at meeting needs that don’t exist yet—or exist at a low boil in the back of people’s minds. Before the iPod existed, no one thought they needed to carry 8,000 songs around in their pocket. Now many of us don’t leave home without at least two fully loaded iDevices.”

From the chapter “Establishing the Need to Change and a Sense of Urgency”

“As Terry Pearce, author of Leading Out Loud: a Guide for Engaging Others in Creating the Future, has said, ‘People hate change. People love progress. The difference is purpose.’ These words offer an excellent starting point for any discussion about change. Progress implies an improvement, a move forward. And nothing progresses by staying the same.”

From the chapter “Testing with Pilots to Increase Success”:

“Variable pricing hadn’t yet come to the world of sporting events back when the San Francisco Giants were opening their new ballpark. As Larry Baer [the team’s CEO] explained, one of his colleagues proposed instituting ‘what he called demand yield pricing.’…we tried it for 2,000 or 3,000 seats a game…it was a huge success and we estimated it could bring another $15 million annually to the bottom line.”

From the chapter “Creating a Workable Plan”:

“Renée James [president of Intel] is fully aware that many people in her organization have achieved financial success and are far from being driven by a monthly paycheck. Instead what keeps them coming to work is the understanding that their company ‘can change the world—and that they have the possibility of changing the world every single day.’”

From the Epilogue:

“Recognizing a need to change is hard; assembling a team is hard; piloting is hard. What is easy is getting discouraged and becoming disillusioned. You will assume that the difficulties you encounter must be your fault, that you must have ‘screwed something up’ because nothing should be this hard. That’s when you’ll know you’re doing it right.”

David S. Pottruck is the Chairman of HighTower Advisors, a $25 billion wealth management firm that he helped launch in 2008. He serves on the Board of Directors of Intel Corporation, where he is a member of the Executive Committee, Chairman of the Compensation Committee, and Chairman of the Retirement Plan Investment Committee. In addition, he is on the Board of Directors of several early-stage companies, including CorpU, a 21st-century corporate leadership development organization, where he is chairman.

Find out about Dave Pottruck’s CorpU course, “Leading Breakthrough Change” 

 Stacking the Deck Book

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