Ziptie Advisory Group

Flexible. Creative. Disciplined.


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ZipTie is focused on understanding each client’s unique challenges relative to macro-level issues facing the financial services industry.  We work closely alongside senior leadership and meet with other team leaders to make informed decisions and to guide recommendations about growing the depth and maturity of your organization.  While our work is uniquely tailored based on these discussions, we will initiate discussions with you along the following three service offerings:

  • Developmental Assessment.  High-level review and interviews to gain an understanding of the clarity of your corporate vision/ greater purpose (including enterprise-level communication) and how it connects to the breadth and scope of your talent management program, corporate focus on innovation and continuous improvement, and your sustainable growth program.
  • Connect the Dots.   Subject to your Developmental Assessment, we will provide a report of process gaps, white space that needs to be filled and other business and process improvement opportunities – prioritized based on a pre-defined risk-return prioritization scale.  Subject to your approval, we will support changes in organizational structure and provide transition assistance – including serving in an interim role, if necessary, until key issues have been resolved to your satisfaction.
  • Fill the White Space.  While “connecting the dots”, we will work with you to fill gaps in the white space.  Inevitably, there are improvement opportunities that require a longer implementation path where we may provide transition assistance – including serving in an interim role, if necessary, until key issues have been resolved to your satisfaction.  As necessary, we will also connect you with our national network of strategic partners to address more specific sales, operational or technology needs.  As discussed in our Strategic Partner Alignment section, we have developed this network through years of shared work experiences and have endorsed these organizations to share ZipTie’s core ideology.

For a summary of the areas of focus discussed above, continue reading for questions, comments and thoughts that further explain our approach to each of these areas.

Assessing Your Corporate Vision/ Greater Purpose

When an organization clearly articulates its story, its “reason for being”, the context for all your stakeholders – employees, partners, customers, investors, the press, the regulators – becomes clear.  An organization without a story may likely be an organization without a strategy – or without a greater purpose.

  • How do you measure progress toward achieving your long-term envisioned future? Quantitative (financial metrics/ targets) and Qualitative (consistency with core ideology – values/ purpose).  To motivate high-performing talent to support your envisioned future, you must recognize that anything you measure automatically creates a set of employee behaviors.  If you can write it down, you can measure it. If you can measure it, you can make it better.
  • As your organization grows, it will change. No matter how well you set your culture, keep your spirit, or slow down your growth, your organization won’t be the same when it reaches a certain tipping point (whether you measure the tipping point on financial metrics, size, headcount or complexity).  Always remember your core values and your greater purpose.  Change does not make you bad, but it does mean you’re different, and it’s your job to communicate the difference.
  • In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportionate to the level of trust. In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  How do you measure whether you’re communicating to inspire your team to want to do what you want them to do?

At ZipTie, we encourage businesses to take care of the people, the products and services, and the profits – in that order.  If you focus on hiring people that share your vision, and develop them to focus on living your core values, they are more likely to provide an elite level of loyalty and quality in their delivery of your products and services, which in turn leads to profits which are not the end, but rather the means to the end (your greater purpose).  As we work with you to build your business, connecting it to your vision and your greater purpose, we will build a process by which your organization will relentlessly chase quality through excellence well into the future.

Assessing Talent Management

Technology revolutionary Andy Grove made one of the best cases I’ve seen on the importance of developing talent in his book, High Output Management. “Most managers seem to feel that training employees is a job that should be left to others.  I, on the other hand, strongly believe that the manager should do it himself.  Training is, quite simply, one of the highest-leverage activities a manager can perform.”

  • Time is a finite resource. Otherwise, why would leaders need teams to support their business?  What processes do you have in place to evaluate whether your senior leadership is focusing on the activities that produce the greatest leverage to create high quality output?
  • If you don’t train your people so that it’s clear they understand your expectations of them (and their expectations of you), you establish no basis for performance management. How do you measure whether your team is being trained to develop the core competencies and skills relevant to completing their assigned tasks at a high level?
  • The primary purpose of the organizational hierarchy in a company is decision-making efficiency and it’s necessary the larger your organization grows. Just like no two companies are the same, no two organizational hierarchies are the same.  The objective of the organizational hierarchy for your company is to create a team (with shared core values and purpose) and an environment (leveraging people, process and technology) that optimizes sustainable profitability with decision-making efficiency.  How timely are you in evaluating whether you have sufficiently married the relevant skills of your team to the requisite blend of a mission-oriented hierarchy (focused predominantly on the customer) versus a functional hierarchy (focused on providing the requisite talent at optimal cost)?

When you respect your team, they will respect you.  A team that respects that each member has value to contribute is a productive team.  When a respectful, productive team believes in their leader they will go to war for their leader.

Assessing Innovation and Continuous Improvement

To paraphrase from the ancient Chinese military treatise, The Art of War, ascribed to Sun Tzu, the greatest warriors are never heroes.  The greatest warriors are disciplined enough to focus on developing strengths, eliminating weaknesses and proactively taking advantage of the environment to address issues before they develop into crises (remember when housing prices peaked in 2006, followed by the largest drop in history during by the first quarter of 2008?).  Even with revisionist history, very few people claimed to have predicted the severity of the resulting recession.

  • What approach does your organization use to hold your senior leadership accountable for being problem solvers and value creators that in turn transform their teams into problem solvers and value creators?
  • How does your organization stay focused on identifying problems, and increasing the predictability of and the approach to solving problems, while also maximizing sustainable profitability into the future, not just the next quarter.  When revenue generators propose credible ideas, good managers don’t say, “No.”  Rather, they say “Yes, but…[consider these points so that we effectively manage the risk this revenue brings to the organization so that that it supports a sustainable return consistent with building our business].
  • How do you encourage respectful challenge of creative ideas, so that the people on your team – young or old – are being developed into world-class teammates?

Consistent with the management evaluation matrix developed by legendary CEO Jack Welch, your demand for cultural compliance is just as important, if not more important, than delivering results.  Creating unselfish behavior grounded in your core values so that respectful challenge is expected, not just celebrating the delivery of financial results, is critical to building a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

Assessing the Sustainable Growth Engine

  • What process do you rely upon to determine how your target customers, vendors and other stakeholders think and operate, knowing their cultural tendencies?  How do you define and then identify your “most important customer” in different geographies and different socio-demographic areas?  If the answer to that question is difficult to explain, how do you know you are maximizing your financial results?  Focusing on understanding these things could turn out to be far more valuable than knowing your own organization’s products and culture.
  • Discipline creates more consistent, reliable output.  Being effective in an organization also means working hard, being reliable, and being an excellent member of a team.  How do you incentivize your team to urgently focus on the identification of root causes for past problems and making improvements so that your resources (people, process, and technology) are aligned to execute more innovatively, efficiently and reliably to achieve your envisioned future?
  • In his book “The Lean Startup,” Kevin Ries speaks to three types of growth engines:
    • The Sticky Growth Engine:  Attracting new customers and providing them value for the longer term;
    • The Viral Growth Engine:  Word of mouth/ networking.  Making your product accessible/ visible so that your networks/ circles and their networks/ circles can easily feed back to you as potential customers;
    • The Paid Growth Engine:  Paying for advertising and/ or “search engine optimization”, you need to be able to prove that each new customer added through this channel is providing a return after the cost of obtaining them.

To achieve your envisioned future, every division of your organization should be challenged to prove they are holding their teams accountable for the promises they make, for delivering the short-term financial results they are required to deliver while relentlessly pursuing your envisioned future.