On the final day of M. Holland’s 2018 Business Conference, Forbes publisher, columnist, and economics futurist Rich Karlgaard delivered an intriguing keynote on how leaders can position their businesses to be unstoppable amid technology acceleration and disruption.

According to Karlgaard, the U.S. economy is thriving. Consumer confidence is at an all-time high and economic growth for the second quarter of 2018 was on track to double 2017’s full-year pace, with economists predicting continued growth through the end of the year, CNBC reported. Despite this economic boom, Karlgaard cited former Cisco CEO John Chambers’ claim that 40 percent of the top 500 companies will fail within the next five years. These companies will lose reach, retention, relevance, reputation, revenue, and ROI requiring them to either re-structure or close. To protect themselves and their companies, Karlgaard recommended four best practices for business leaders to avoid seeing their company join the ranks of the failures.

Best Practice #1- Attain Digital Fluency

Digital transformation has upended the world and shows no signs of slowing down. The Internet, smartphones, Search Engine Marketing, online shopping, and social media are no longer considered the latest in technological engines. According to Karlgaard, these platforms will continue to drive growth but not to the same extent as new, innovative engines. In today’s digital culture, companies need to explore, understand, and incorporate new engines such as artificial intelligence, internet of things, predictive analytics, and augmented reality into their business practices.

At M. Holland, we began our digital journey in 2015 with two goals in mind. The first was to create better digital experiences for our clients, suppliers, and Mployees. The second, true to our core values and mission, was to ensure these digital experiences did not replace human relationships. Our first innovation was MH2Go, a tablet-based suite of digital tools that gives our account and product managers their business at their fingertips. In 2017, we introduced MHX a suite of web or mobile-app tools that also gives our clients their business at their fingertips. But our journey doesn’t end there. We are continuously improving and enhancing each product to provide an all-encompassing, convenient, and personable experience for all our stakeholders.

Best Practice #2- Ensure Cultural Clarity

According to FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith, the most adaptable organizations are structured in a way that resembles the shape of a triangle, with equally strong sides representing execution, values, and strategy; and at the center, goals and lasting success.

Fred Smith's Triangle of Health For Companies

FedEx attributes their long-standing success not only to their ability to balance all sides of the triangle, but also to dedication to their corporate values.

At M. Holland, we have built our reputation on our eight core values: integrity, honesty, loyalty, trust, work ethic, character, passion, and respect. These principles are also central to our company operations. Despite changes to the greater plastics industry and our transformation from a regional distributor to an international leader, we remain committed to maintaining the same balance between execution, strategy, and our core values.

Best Practice #3- Seek & Build Cognitive Diversity

Cognitive diversity and Steve Job’s idea of constructing a “Whole Brain Team” both stress the importance of building diverse teams of individuals. Companies need to focus on hiring people with different viewpoints (inside v. outside view), backgrounds (art v. science), and experience levels (experienced v. fresh eyes) to successfully create a diverse culture.

Teams that are diverse in thought and culture can bring a unique ability to use creative problem-solving methods that stem from different career and life experiences to their organizations. According to global consulting firm McKinsey & Company, companies with diverse executive teams are 21 percent more profitable than homogenous teams.

Diversity and inclusion are critical to achieving our goals at M. Holland. The workforce is becoming more diverse and, regardless of race, culture or gender, people want and deserve the same opportunities. If we’re going to be innovative, we must have multiple perspectives and voices in the room. We continue to invest time and resources into leading-edge practices to stay progressive and create an environment and culture that attract a variety of people.

Best Practice #4- Stay Inquisitive And Insightful

According to Karlgaard, intelligence is not enough. Company managers must be diligent in their quest for growth by using the insights and perspectives they’ve gained to lead successful companies – what Karlgaard cited as wisdom. Intelligence is still important and highly coveted, but business leaders and management also need to draw on experience and wisdom for insight and perspective.

With nearly seven decades of industry success and experiences, M. Holland has developed unique perspectives, key learnings, and best practices to help us continue excelling in plastic resin distribution and resale on an international level.

Karlgaard’s presentation not only imparted wisdom on Business Conference attendees, but it also affirmed the eight core values that guide our business at M. Holland. As we continue on our digital transformation journey and develop new diversity and inclusion initiatives, we will let our experience and core values continue to guide our quest to becoming the international leader.


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