Peer Groups

 

Strategiz is proud to be a licensed and certified provider of the PeerSpectives® Roundtable System from the Edward Lowe Foundation.

What is a Peer Group?

Based on peer learning, the Edward Lowe Foundation’s PeerSpectives program helps secondstage entrepreneurs and executives improve their leadership skills. Roundtables include 6–10 business executives from noncompeting industries and provide a confidential forum where participants share challenges and experiences.

Each Peer Group is led by a trained facilitator who is an expert in peer learning. The system is focused on experience sharing, rather than advice giving, with a structured protocol that ensures a balanced discussion. Each member of the group is able to add to the collective learning process. And the program gives the entrepreneur the confidence to discuss sensitive topics due to the code of confidentiality that the Peer Group embraces.

Peer Group Testimonials

Brian Sutherland, president of Highland Solutions, a Chicago-based technology firm with about 20 employees and a national client base, has been participating in a PeerSpectives roundtable since January 2009.

“PeerSpectives has been a great way to navigate difficult issues in a down, fearful market,” says Sutherland. “Typically owners of second-stage businesses don’t have a lot of people they can talk about the difficult issues with — especially for those that don’t have a board of directors or advisers —- and the roundtable is a great place to bring up sensitive issues.”

Personnel issues and problems are frequent topics during roundtables. “Within the safety and confidentiality of the group, we’re very specific about our business dealings and able to share what’s working and what’s not working,” Sutherland says.

Sutherland has also seen the value in succession planning. “We had been talking about establishing systems of delegation and responsibility, but after one of our members had a life threatening health issue, it was a real wakeup call to all the roundtable members,” he explains. Since then, Sutherland has transferred more responsibility to four key employees.

The payoff: Sutherland has more time to work on his business instead of in it. And he now has time for R&R. “I hadn’t had a great vacation in years,” Sutherland says. “But last year (2010), I was able to take four weeks of vacation, including two periods where I didn’t check voicemail or e-mail for eight days straight. And everything was just fine.”

Christen Carter is the founder of Busy Beaver Button Company, a Chicago-based manufacturer of pin-backed buttons, has a worldwide customer base and about 15 employees.

 “I’ve been in the roundtable since January 2009. We all have a very high level of expectations, and it’s great to be around people who take their businesses so seriously.”

“The roundtable structure — asking questions rather than giving advice — has helped me change my leadership style. Hearing others talk through their issues gives you insight into how people process problems. There have been many ‘aha’ moments when I can see why a problem exists for someone else, and how it might exist in some form in my business. And even if I don’t have that specific issue, I might have a process for solving it that I can share.”

“Another huge thing was coming up with a vision — identifying what we do differently than anyone else. It’s been a great journey. You can’t communicate to employees the importance of what they do unless you know the big picture. Having a vision has made our staff feel part of something larger than making buttons. It’s also helped with financial goals and identify what kind of customers we want and what markets we should be reaching.”

How does the Peer Group work?

Joining a Strategiz Peer Group

Schedule: Strategiz Peer Groups meet once a month for 3 hours.  Meetings are scheduled at the same time each month, e.g. the fourth Friday of the month.  New members can join at any time.

For more information:  Contact Al Herbach or Becky Davenport on the Strategiz team.