Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “Be agile”

02 May 2023, 08:04 AM
  • Stefano Cuomo, CEO of Macknade, shares his insight on why SMEs need to be adaptable in 2023
Stefano Cuomo, Macknade: “Be agile”

Focus on the core, protect cash, be agile… this has been our mantra as we navigate the choppy waters.

To see weekly indicators highlighting solid transaction numbers and forecast-beating revenue in the early months of the year has been hugely satisfying, and more than that, has been seeing how the whole team has really upped the ‘productivity’ of our emotive SME.

Historically, I have often noticed amongst teams that any time the phrase ‘productivity’ is bandied about it is immediately assumed that it is a simple binary standpoint – either you are productive or you are not!

That if increased productivity becomes a voiced aim, then previously we can’t have been productive and so must have been lazy, not hardworking, unengaged… or any other number of pejorative terms and phrases that get slung around a shop floor!

Productivity has to be explained and bought into as a whole team objective, not as an end in its own right, rather a mindset and system leading to the objective – ‘best community experience’, ‘greater EBIT’.

We all have a deep love for Macknade and what it can do, but we need to continually assess whether we are approaching it in the best way, and even more so when the world is changing dynamically. What was productive yesterday may not be tomorrow – conversations around AI and Network abound! One for another day.

In tricky times it is easy to slip into a top-down approach – laying out a way forward, but not giving everyone the opportunity for full buy in, that is to say the correct level of autonomy to genuinely feel that their daily ‘moves and shakes’ help set and drive the course of the whole business. Meaningful roles.

So we are resetting, and a key part of that is to engage more fully with the next generation. This is age agnostic, recognising new entrants in over the past few years now ready to stretch their wings, as this is where the energy and drive for the next 10 years will come from for Macknade and our sector more broadly.

Again, top down, unengaged leadership not only reduces productivity through lack of true engagement, it misses the opportunity to allow the next generation of operators to shine and break through.

The second part of that mantra now kicks in: maintain clear frameworks, trust good people and create the space to let them take off. It comes full circle – they will focus on the core, they will protect the cash, they will be agile (innovate), and so the cycle goes on and the business flourishes.

In the nitty gritty, and as simple example of rebooting, our crack finance team put together clear, updated, simple and visual cashflow KPIs that have allowed each department, across the business, instant visibility of performance.

This ‘gamification’ of the business has allowed everyone to see how they can impact on our activity and Macknade as a whole – clear metrics, which are then discussed and strategized around, have revitalised teams.

The sense of being part of delivering the objective of a high-level vision and mission, with financial bottom-line achievement, is now blossoming!

There is still much to do with really making sure all feel engaged, but the effort put in collectively to make sure all are able to see the team results, challenge, when we miss and celebrate when we hit, is heading us all in absolutely the right direction.

Of course, it is good business hygiene, it is what we should be doing, what productivity is based upon… but so often in the fug of SME ‘firefighting’ the integrity and enjoyment of the P&L gaming is not shared and cherished!

Focus on the core, protect the cash, be agile… not only essential but fun when it engages everyone.

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