“A Militant Commitment to the Basics”

Recently I had the pleasure to have one of my Bolthouse Farms leadership team partners ( and good friend) Zak spend some time with me in Atlanta!  We have been “working our brains out” since well before we closed on buying back the company from Campbell’s last June and it was a real treat to have him stop by and stay at my house and for us to work together from my home office a few weeks ago.  He was routing through Atlanta, coming from one of our customer’s annual conferences and shared a number of headlines from his time there.  One theme came from the main stage presentation of the conference when the speaker commented that to be successful, one needed to have ….” A militant commitment to the basics!”  This phrase has really stuck with me over the past few weeks.  It is highly pertinent to the situation that I find myself in today in my work at Bolthouse Farms and it rings VERY true as I reflect on my career over the past 30+ years.  I want to take a few moments today to dig into this concept, and do a bit of exegesis as we explore its elements.

Militant: adj.  “Aggressively active, (as in a cause)

So many businesses need 100% attention, focus and energy and the business we bought last June is a perfect example.  The previous management team was focused on “selling the business”, not “running the business” and the the recent business results tell the tale!  NO business nor organization runs on auto pilot and ALL businesses and organizations need intense, active focus.  The concept of being “militant” or “aggressively active” feels so apt and appropriate… we as leaders should not aspire to JUST be active, we need to work on being “aggressively active” in our work and actions!

Commitment: noun.  “an act of committing to a charge or trust”

At any level in an organization, we are NOT taking a role to only partially commit to the work required.  If we are in a role, and this is especially true for leaders, we need to be 110% INTO the role and the work required.  Especially when times are tough, or when business results are challenged (both ringing true for me today,) we need to check ourselves and insure that we are 110% “committed” to the role/work/team/budget/challenges that lie ahead.  We can’t control so many things in the landscape of our work, but we CAN control our own levels of “commitment!”

Basics: noun.  “something that is foundational or fundamental”

It is so easy, especially when things are troubled or challenging in business to look for a new approach or strategy to change trends and drive future success.  While certainly needed and appropriate at times, it is ALWAYS appropriate to dig or grind into the fundamentals or foundational elements of a business.  I have found that after being away from Bolthouse Farms for over 4 years, I have needed to dig back into the “basics” of the business to really understand where we are and where we need to go!

I am very appreciative that Zak shared this message from the customer convention and I am very appreciative and committed to our partnership along with the other leaders at Bolthouse Farms!  All of us would do well to dig into these words and this theme and to push ourselves to bring them alive every day.  I hope that you leaders reading this essay can find an idea or an approach to bring alive in your organizations and i am confident that taking a “militant commitment to the basics” will serve you well on the challenges that lie ahead!