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IMBC 2011: The right culture is key to success

"Are you just going through the motions or are you doing something big?" Bill Yeargin asked Friday afternoon on the last day of the International Marina and Boatyard Conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Yeargin, president and CEO of Correct Craft Inc. of Orlando and one of the industry's management gurus, said that if a company wants to do something big it has to shape its organizational culture so it is geared to accomplish big things.

Organizational culture is "the way things are done around here," Yeargin told about 800 people who were attending the conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center. "Culture doesn't require thought," he said. "It is so ingrained that employees simply act."

Yeargin said leaders must take responsibility for fostering a culture that energizes and focuses a company.

Citing the book "The Five Dysfunctions of a Team" by Pat Lencioni, he said the teams that are a company's vehicles for getting things done must trust their leader, be able to debate and handle conflict to arrive at decisions ("Conflict is good," he said.), commit to a decision once it's made and hold each other accountable for carrying out a decision in order to achieve results.

He said a good organizational culture sets clear expectations, hires and trains good people and lets them do their jobs without micromanagement. It recognizes differences in people's temperaments, demands good communication among team members and has a "growth mindset."

"Most people have a fixed mindset," he said. "A growth mindset recognizes that you don't know what you don't know."

It is open to change and to improvement. "You've got to change or die," he said.

Speaking to the state of the economy, J. Antonio Villamil, dean of the business school at St. Thomas University in Miami, said marina and boatyard operators must adapt their business plans to realities of the "new normal."

He said the U.S. economy will go through a prolonged period of below-par economic growth. Emerging markets - China, Russia, India, Brazil - will have higher growth rates than the United States and offer opportunities for exports. Prices will not increase much while inflation is low, although rising oil prices could cause some price creep, he said.

Credit will continue to be difficult to get because banks will be risk-averse for the foreseeable future, he said. Households are retiring or walking away from debt, so their net worth should continue to increase and make them feel better about spending.

Villamil predicts 3 percent to 3.5 percent expansion for the next two to three years and low interest rates through 2012.

"Cash flow is king," he said. Conserve cash and be ready to redeploy it as the recession continues to ease. Retain talented workers. Lock in borrowing costs and get mortgages on a fixed rate.

He foresees a gradually improving business environment, but said it will be some time before we see the kind of economy that existed from 2004-07.

— Jim Flannery



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