Phil Lotter is the CEO, Founder and Practice lead for Business Change and
Transformation of Piilo Group
What's your industry?
Professional services and technology
For people who don't know you, can you tell us how you ended up sitting where you are today?
I completed a post graduate degree in Economics and lectured Micro and Macroeconomics for 2 years. I then started my career in business consulting at Accenture which provided me with the opportunity to work across industries and countries. After 7 years and considerable amount of international traveling with Accenture, I wanted to create something that I enjoy while giving me the ability to have a better work-life balance.
Piilo is a change management company focused on helping organizations with business change, business transformation and business effectiveness.
Business change refers to incremental changes introduced in business to improve efficiencies. For example a new or upgraded system or process. Change management assists business to maximize the benefits of the change.
Business transformation refers to creating a step change in business. This can be the restructure of a business, introduction of a new capability or product. We combine Strategy and Change management to assist business in driving the change to create the step change.
Business effectiveness refers to the ability of the technology, operations (processes) and organization in a business to deliver its strategy. Strategy and Change management assist business to align capabilities to ensure it achieve its strategy.
What does your daily routine look like?
As a business owner, I am involved across the business. Overall I ensure we follow our defined business strategy while being involved in daily operations. At this stage my major focus is on:
1. Business growth and development
We are focused on growth in North America which is taking considerable effort and time.
2. Client delivery and relationship management
I am involved in project delivery and managing key client relationships. Some of our clients have been with us for +7 years.
3. Product development
We are launching new products this year and I am involved in the development and review of the solutions.
4. Financial management
I manage the finances of the company and I like to be on top of this.
5. Employee management
I work with employees on a daily basis from marketing to client delivery. Also need to ensure people are happy and deal with career activities.
6. Community involvement
I am a member of non profit organizations and engage on various topics around this.
What excites you most about what you do?
With business automation driven by AI, robotics, other technologies and new innovation in process and people practices, the consulting industry is at the forefront of driving and applying this. We experiment with "new thinking" to understand how it can bring value.
What excites me is the constant evolution of our industry as we are forced to be at the forefront.
What's the best advice anyone ever gave you on your journey in business?
All good things take time. Today everything is on demand and we want immediate satisfaction. Live doesn't work that way. Sometimes things take time because it has to. Patience is a virtue and most of us forgot how to be patient.
What's been the hardest part about the path you've taken and how would you advise someone facing a similar situation to overcome it?
Owning a business is unpredictable. There is no guarantee for success. We introduced technology in the market and made some good traction before Covid hit. Our revenue stream for the new business dried up within a month after countries introduced travel bans and forced people to stay at home. Clients cancelled contracts due to the uncertainty of the pandemic. Luckily Piilo consulting was generating good revenue and had to finance all other operations. We kept the new company afloat for a while but had to close operations. This was hard as it was just showing promise. The decision to close was one of self preservation as we didn't know how long the pandemic would last. A lot of businesses were forced to downscale, diversify or close during this time.
Are there any well-known Books, Podcasts, or Courses that you credit your current success to?
A few books I found useful:
"Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant" by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
"Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" by James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras
"Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell
"Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don't" by James C. Collins
"The Lean Startup: How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses" by Eric Ries
Have you ever used a business or executive coach?
I use people who I respect with knowledge or experience in specific areas as coaches. I have never engaged a professional business coach.
I have acted as a coach for executives in large organizations based on their trust in my abilities and insights.
It seems like there are a lot of people offering business coaching these days. In your opinion, is that a good thing?
Too many people are calling themselves business coaches after doing a course or job hopping between the next hot job title in the market.
A good business coach is a person with experience and tenure in business. Someone who understands business environments and challenges. Someone that you can trust to have empathy but respect enough to tell you how things really are.
People can sometimes confuse a coach with a mentor. Can you help us clarify the difference?
A mentor is focused on sharing their experience and providing guidance to help someone else grow and develop in their career.
A coach helps individuals or groups to achieve specific goals. This is done based on their knowledge and experience in business.
For any entrepreneurs or executives looking to work with a coach, where are the best places to find a great one?
I would use my network to find a good business coach.
What 3 qualities would you say separate a great business coach from a bad one?
In my view, the following 3 qualities are:
Respect - respect between both individuals are key
Empathy - ability to understand the other person's position, but staying objective
Honesty - a good coach can give negative feedback and engage the person on this
Do you think someone can be a great business coach without having many years of experience?
No, if you haven't walked the mile, I don't know how you can give advice.
What do you think the world of business coaching will look like in 20 years' time?
I think AI (artificial intelligence) will fill the space as it will become more empathetic and be able to give advice based on fact. The biggest issue with coaching, especially at the top levels are people feel vulnerable. If you don't trust others at this level, asking AI will be easier. Hopefully AI will become more neutral and not manipulated...