Stull’s feeling of helplessness eventually led him to Aileron, where he quickly immersed himself in professional management. Task number one was to get a grip on the company’s strategic direction. By early-2006, all 12 of Jcrane’s employees had taken part in the Strategic Planning Workshop.
What did they learn? According to Stull, “this was a 10-hour process where our entire team mapped out the future direction and vision of the company. Now we were all headed in the same direction.” The workshop also helped Jcrane define its organizational structure and create a system of accountability for its employees. As a direct result of the Strategic Planning Workshop, the company now holds bi-annual strategic planning sessions, where every employee is expected to provide input for the next year’s plan.
Stull’s next move was to take part in the President’s Course, a comprehensive two-day program designed to show business leaders the ins-and-outs of professional management. One of his most important takeaways from this program was the idea that profitability is the direct result of advance planning. Effective internal planning allowed Jcrane to mitigate the impact of a weakening economy, helping the company determine its own profitability.
Stull’s learning went even deeper, to the core of what it means to run a business. “Through the President’s Course, I also learned that my job centers around vision, strategy, and cultivating others. This makes it a lot less lonely, and more fun than it used to be. I now realize the importance of involving management in every decision, and know that my managers are more capable than I ever imagined.”
Stull also came to a better understanding of his company’s unique culture and its impact on long-term success. In fact, he now uses Jcrane’s corporate culture as the first priority when hiring new people.