Achieving Business Excellence with John Spence

The Top 4 Business Trends of 2015

Last day of 2015I have literally just walked off the stage from my last presentation/workshop for 2015. It’s been an extremely busy year with more than 200 days on the road, zigzagging across the United States and Canada and delivering programs in Australia, New Zealand and most recently Poland. As I look back over the year here are a few big takeaways that I think you might find of interest.


  1. Culture and talent are critical. In most of the businesses I worked in this year the single biggest place where they could reduce waste, reduce costs and increase revenues and profits was in the quality of the people on their team and the culture in the organization. I believe that companies need to put more focus on hiring, growing and retaining top talent – and building a winning culture of engaged, satisfied and loyal employees who are highly results driven, customer focused and accountable. To me, these should be major strategic objectives in almost every business.


  1. Lack of accountability and disciplined execution are the biggest problems I see in almost every organization worldwide. There is no shortage of bright, sharp, talented people who can develop highly innovative strategies and ideas – but there is a huge shortage of people that can take those ideas and effectively turn them into results in the marketplace. Again, another place to see major revenue growth and profitability in many companies is focusing more on execution.


  1. As I look at the programs I was asked to deliver, there is a clear pattern of a handful of workshops and keynote speeches that the majority of my clients asked me to focus on:
Advanced leadership, especially leading organizations through change

I delivered this program for a number of companies whose industries were undergoing massive change and were challenged to get their employees not just to embrace change, but to drive change.

Winning culture

Many of my clients requested that I help their organizations learn more about how to create higher levels of engagement, commitment, teamwork and collaboration – what I have come to call creating and “ownership mentality” throughout the organization.

Business excellence/strategic thinking

I spent a good bit of time this year helping companies take a hard look at their current operations, benchmark against best practices and fine-tune their strategies to be successful in the future.

Consultative sales

Although I started my career doing high-level sales training, I stepped away from it for a few years, but now many of my clients are asking me to help their entire organization become a sales organization focused on being trusted advisers to their customers.

My recommendation would be to look closely at your organization and make sure that none of these are areas that you are neglecting.


  1. Lastly, I am becoming more and more aware that building a strong network of people that want to help and support you (because you are helping and supporting them) and then using that network to generate strong positive word-of-mouth… should also be one of your major strategic objectives. It has become obvious to me that social media, combined with social proof, are the future of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. But all effective networking and word-of-mouth marketing is based on, delivering massive value and being so incredibly remarkable at what you do…that people want to remark about you, that is, tell other people about how great you are. Just trying to build up your email list or the number of contacts you have on LinkedIn is not an effective strategy, it only works when the connections are created through trust and strongly demonstrated competence.

So those are some of the major things I noticed about 2015, which means they will probably continue to be big issues in 2016. Are you seeing anything different?

I very much look forward to your thoughts – John



  1. Doug Pollak says:

    I agree with the four trends you describe; you are right on target. I would add the challenge of succession planning to the list, perhaps as a sub-bullet to advanced leadership or change management. This is the next progressive step; how to identify, qualify, and prepare new leadership to continue the define, refine, and implement the vision, mission and culture of the company.

  2. John,
    I think you are spot on with this list. Disciplined execution and more process refinement are going to be big pushes for us next year and we deal with onslaught of new business that is going to require systems to ensure coverage of each order and delivering the value you mention.

  3. Michal Petras says:

    The right people on the bus in the right seats. Nice insights.

  4. John:

    One of my favorite business books is “Execution” by Larry Bossidy, it has been around for a while but has recently been revised. It really focuses on the need for business execution and provides many good case study examples of both poor and outstanding execution..


  5. These insights are useful checklists which makes implementation easier on our end. Thanks John. Wishing you and Sheila the very best for 2016

  6. Nice list, John. I’m curious how connected you feel the first 3 are (sans the consultative sales).

  7. Patrick Cronin says:

    Excellent insights! In my opinion this all starts at the Top, does the company have a leader or a manager in charge. A leader is actively engaged in his business at every level, is he asking tough questions of his top lieutenants in regards to the four points you discussed. Or is he a manager who takes what his underlings tell him at face value. Leaders Lead, Managers manage. Leaders are looking at your four points, Managers are trying to avoid discussing your four points. All The Best!

  8. M Kitchens says:

    Although I agree with all four points, your number one is just that…we spend the vast majority of our time focusing on culture and empowering our group. The rest sorta falls into place if you are all paddling in the same direction (and having fun doing so).

    Keep up the aweome (ly simple) work.

  9. Another insightful blog John and congratulations on finishing 2015 strong, You are right on target with these trending into 2016 with so many organizations acquiring new talent.
    Thanks for continuing to inform and educate us across the globe

  10. John, great list, especially #2, disciplined execution.
    Baseball analogy, every player on Team 1 hits a home run 50% of the time. Every player on Team 2 only hits a single, but they do it 100% of the time. In the bottom of the first inning, team 1 just gave up because they realized they couldn’t win.

    My #5 would be a focus on direction. Internally focused vs externally focused. Pro-actively future focused, investing in the future vs reactive, paying for the past.