By Parker Young, Executive Vice President and COO at Straub Construction
You can read about companies and their trials, tribulations and successes in most business books. Whether it is one of Jim Collins’, top sellers Good to Great or other great authors with books like Built to Serve, you learn about the businesses in some detail. But if you are like me, you want to know more of the detail such as how and why did certain decisions work or not work? So while reading books is an excellent starting point, they can only do so much. What are some other options?
Peer Advisory Groups
I’ve been a member of two different peer advisory groups for more than 10 years. The first one and longest running, in various forms, is a peer group that is comprised of individuals in similar operational roles. We have members across many industries, including advertising and blogging, insurance, moving and storage, construction and many others. You might think there’s nothing to be gained from such a variety of industries participating, but it’s amazing how many similar issues we all face. Whether it is teaching and mentoring your teams or working with ownership in strategy. We all deal with similar issues.
It’s extremely beneficial to bring a challenge to the group. There are others that are facing the challenge or may have dealt with something similar in the past. I get to learn what worked or didn’t for them. The best part is that we can work on both personal and professional issues.
You can always learn from others. The bonds that are formed in peer groups are life changing.
I’ve also been a member of a small contractor peer group with members from Boston, Baltimore, Memphis, Denver, Sacramento and Kansas City. We’re all contractors with a variety of market niches but have similar values and approaches to business. Again, the ability to have a trusted confidant when you need a sounding board is invaluable. The goal is to make each other better and hold each other accountable.
I recognize many of you already may be a part of a peer group and can share greater, and more in-depth experiences. But this blog is for those who may not be. Peer advisory groups don’t have to be an expensive venture. My operations group meets monthly with each member hosting once a year. The host buys lunch for the group. I can tell you my return on the $150 lunch has been immeasurable!
If you’re interested in joining or forming a peer advisory group, just ask your network. I guarantee there are plenty of people that would love the opportunity to collaborate with you. The best groups are made up of people that care about each other on many levels. So that’s who you should invite. We all learn better as a group!