In today's episode, we talk with Shannon Susko from Metronome United. You will learn what is metronomics and how it is built through experience that can grow with you to the next level which will result in high-performing business teams that achieve superior results.
Shannon is an expert in strategy and execution. She is well known for her ability to lead and execute with her team in implementing a repeatable Strategic Execution System – creating it in her first company and validating in her second company by the speed in which the company was built and sold.
She now coaches’ CEOs and leadership teams from around the world who want the same success using the same system.
Narrator: Welcome to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where you'll learn what it takes to create enough cash to fill the four buckets of profit. You'll learn what it takes to have enough cash for a great lifestyle, have enough cash for when emergency strikes, fully fund a growth program, and fund your retirement program. When you do this, you will have a sale‑ready company that will allow you to keep or sell your business. This allows you to do what you want with your business, when you want, in the way you want.
In Cracking the Cash Flow Code, we focus on the four areas of business that let you take your successful business and make it economically and personally sustainable. Your host, Josh Patrick, is going to help us through finding great thought leaders as well as providing insights he's learned through his 40 years of owning, running, planning, and thinking about what it takes to make a successful business sustainable and allow you to be free of cash flow worries.
Josh: Hey, how are you today? This is Josh Patrick and you're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. And my guest today is Shannon Susko from metronome university. She's going to talk about metronomics with us. I'm not really sure what metronomics is but I'm sure, by the end of the 20 minutes or so we spend together, I'm going to have a really good idea of what metronomics is, so are you. And I bet you'll be able to use it in your life. So, let's bring Shannon on.
Hey, Shannon. How are you today?
Shannon: Good. Thanks, Josh. It's great to be here.
Josh: I'm glad to have you here today. This is really kind of fun. You're a good sport for me to be a little bit late in getting started so I appreciate it.
Shannon: Well, you know, it's all good. We are in a really, I find, a tighter world because we're in a virtual world. And I'm happy always to talk about metronomics.
Josh: Okay. So, I'm curious. What is metronomics?
Shannon: So metronomics is a system that's grown up over the last 25 years, built through experience, taking in the best and the, you know, oldest, newest business thought leaders of our time and plugging it into one system - one backbone system for any company. It works for any size company - small, medium, large, extra large, enterprise.
And metronomics itself will help leaders save time - time’s our scarcest resource, as well as, you know, the inverse effect save time but increase value - increase your cash flow, increase the time you have for your life. And it's really about a balancing act of your team, your business, and your life. And we know that's the biggest thing we all struggle with when we're growing a business.
Josh: So, that all sounds like really good stuff but, here's my question, how do you do it?
Shannon: Yeah. I love it.
So, metronomics is all about the how because we actually, when we are learning this and many leaders out there, we always read the what. The thought leaders tell us the what. They've done research. They tell us what happened. They tell us, “Here's a tool.” But when and how do you use it?
So, metronomics laid out-- and what we did-- and my background is I grew up two global financial services companies and sold them less than six years apart. And someone said, “Like, how did you do that?” And I said, “You know, we had this system.” And when I retired, over 10 years ago, people asked me if I would share the system. So, I said, “Of course. I'll share the system. The system is metronomics.”
And it does guide each and every leader. It will meet the team where they are and it will allow them to actually pick it up quarter over quarter, year over year, to actually get you to where you need to be.
And it's about the how. It will lay out the cultural system, the cohesive system, and the human system which sounds not very human because we're calling it that. And that's all the soft edge. It'll also balance out the hard edge - the strategy, the execution, and the cash. And most organizations focus on the hard edge and not balance out the soft edge.
And then the last key piece that we learned of this, in the how, is to coach it out which is the coach cascade system. And if we, as leaders, as we know, become coaches and coach it out through and cascade it through our organization, it becomes easier to grow a company. It becomes faster grow a company.
And, you know, quite honestly, the biggest thing that people have in growing any company and really buying into our strategy is confidence. And so, it will grow your confidence in your plan. So, the hard edge, yes, we all have it. The soft edge - lots of people focus on it. But it's really about balancing it together - zippering it up as we target out to what we call a three‑year highly‑achievable goal.
Shannon: Okay. So, we call what you're talking about the two sides of business. There's the personal side and there's the economic side. And I think we're talking about the same thing because that's what-- my first book is called The Sustainable Business. And there's four pieces to that. And it sounds similar to what you're doing. And I like the general outline of what you're talking about. But can you get a little more specific?
Josh: And give me an example what metronomics would be and how it would work in the real world?
Shannon: Yeah. So, metronomics--
Josh: Especially the blue‑collar world because that's what we're talking to is blue‑collar subcontractors.
Shannon: Right. So, in that world and how would that work, you know, in that world. There's three things that are involved when we talk about metronomics. One is the system itself. And that's the backbone of the system and creating the cadence of actually what you're going to do every day, every week, every month, every quarter. It's prescriptive. I'm not going to lie. You know, you have to have the willingness and desire to want to do this, right? And there must be a reason. We know that.
The second part is, is that with the size of your team-- and in business, a business team, it's hard to actually find a playing field and find all the team members on the playing field. And so, we've created a way that you can actually drive behavioral accountability to the plan on the playing field. And we do this virtually. There's lots of different ways to do it virtually. You know, we have a suggested way. But we really need team accountability and that behavioral accountability.
The third thing that we believe in is a coach. Three things. So, we know, the most successful teams out there - any teams, they have a system. They have a playing field, a scoreboard - that's transparent, and they have a coach. Mentronomics actually brings all three things together. And when a team will use this, in their day, week, month, quarter year, time is what we all have and we all get to utilize. The system will actually play out step by step.
And so, if you're going to-- like you go, “Shannon, so what? You know, everyone talks about a system, and business, and a coach, and the team, and all that stuff.” The biggest thing is, is that it's easy to get started. It's easy to get started. You just have to commit to getting started. And the commitment comes with just getting your team together and working out your plan - working out your plan. And you can start with it so simply. And you can do it in a day. You can do in two days. We recommend it.
But once you actually start-- and we know, Josh, many teams have plans and plans don't get executed, right? Many teams have the greatest plans ever. They don't get executed. And many teams are executing 99% of their time without a plan. And so, the idea behind this is to, you know, build a plan with your team, your coach, and within the system. And the system is as simple as laying out-- and laying out your strategy, laying out your execution plan, laying out your cash plan because that's one of the biggest things that unlocked this for me and my teams. We started out as a small team and grew to a global company. But the thing that unlocked it was focusing in on cash and not profit. And that might totally, you know, blow people's minds. Why would you focus in on cash and not profit?
Josh: You know, actually--
I have to interrupt you there because I learned that the hard way.
Shannon: Me, too.
Josh: I focused on profit and ran out of cash. And it's a really, really, really big deal. You know, this is something I've said for about 35 years now, since I figured out why I ran out of cash, is that public companies profit is important. Private companies do the best they can to kill profit at the end of the year because they don't want to pay taxes, but they have to pay attention to cash. You know, we all know the statistics of something like 80% of businesses don't make it to five years. They’re startups. And I would submit the reason that the vast majority of them go out of business isn't because they have a bad business, or they've got a bad idea, or they’ve got a bad anything. They just run out of cash and they have no place to go to get more cash. And--
Yeah. So, the core of this system-- you'll love this. And one of my favorite sayings is, you know, I want everyone to put cash in a wheelbarrow and walk away with it because you cannot put profit in a wheelbarrow and walk away with it, right? You’ve got to put cash in the bank to actually sustain your business. You know, impact - whatever you're trying to impact.
And so, the core of this system is forecasting cash first. It's so obvious but it's not what we actually learned in business school. It’s not what most businesses are doing every day. And we have to work our plan to the forecast of cash in your monthly cash forecast. And we would roll out 36 months of cash forecasting and then work our way up.
And we work our way all the way up and people go, “What do you mean you work your way up?” We'll work our way all the way up to forecasting. Then, forecasting the things that flow through your business. We call them widgets. That sometimes confuses people.
Widgets are the things that team members can control, right? It could be hours in a day. It could be manufacturing something. It could be ordering something. It could be POs you're pushing across the table. Invoices, they're coming in and out. These are widgets. These are things you control.
The only way you can actually grow your business and actually put cash in the bank is understanding the relationship between the functional areas of your business of what things flow through and then, obviously, you know, what are the expenses to that? And what are you going to generate out of that? You know, at the end of the day, it’s profit but we’ve got to put cash in the bank.
Josh: Well, profit’s one of the drivers of cash but not the only one.
So, it sounds like an integral part of what you guys do is dashboards. Am I correct in that?
Shannon: It is dashboards but it's related to-- and I love that you say that. There's a transparent scoreboard that would actually relate the cash to what we call the widgets - the things that flow through the business. Because if we're going to actually-- We know. You've probably worked in organizations too where you've been given your number for the quarter. Here's your number, Josh. Off you go. Get it done. And you have no connection to that number, whatsoever. You have no idea. It has no relationship to what you're doing.
So, the idea behind this is, yes, to have transparent scoreboards that everybody can see. No doubt. But the big thing is, is that what's measured on that scoreboard must be owned by the team members in the organization. It doesn't matter if it's one team member, two, 10, whatever, but what you do every day.
You know, one of my clients is an organization that builds net‑zero homes. Net zero homes. And they've been using those probably about six years now. And they have this system fully cascaded from the scoreboard, for their organization, all the way through to the sites and everybody on the sites. So, everyone knows what their score is every day. And that score is the only thing. It's not dollars. It's only what they can control. And it must be connected to the company score which then, of course, is going to be connected to the lagging fiscal results, including cash. But that's what that tie together and allows us to make better and faster decisions.
Josh: So, I have a question for you. Is scrum part of those things that you teach your people to do?
Shannon: So, by my experience and my education, I grew up as a software developer, before scrum existed. That really dates me.
Shannon: And before agile methods. That dates me.
Shannon: But we created- you know, I lead a lot of software teams and large software projects at that time. And the goal was always never to miss a deadline, always to keep, you know, what we had to deliver aligned to, you know, the budget and the plan and how we're going to get paid because it’s the only way we're going to make money, right? And doing that and keeping that together. And so, we created, you know, part of this methodology at that time. Then, as our company grew, I went from leading the software development team to running the company, right? Chief Operating Officer and then CEO.
And I just brought the same methods, you know, along with the greatest thought leaders that had information out there at that time to actually start putting this in place because the only way we win is if we tie the things that matter, the things people can own, right, each and every day to the plan. There's no other way to win. It's true for business and it's true for sport, right? That's the only way you win - if you can break it down and connect what matters at the end of the day. And so, the agile methodology, the scrum methodology, is absolutely part of this. And it actually works. I don't know an organization that doesn't work for - as an organization. And we know it works for many, many technology teams.
Josh: You know, we've been adapting scrum for our subcontractors, now, for about three or four years. I actually went down Jeff Sutherland’s course and became a scrum master.
Shannon: Mmm, awesome.
Josh: But I wouldn't say that I know what I'm doing. I just sort of say let's, “Let's use some basic stuff.”
Josh: And we see incredible results with--
Josh: --the people that we work with who do that. And the reason is because you were doing basically all the things that you're talking about which is having individual stuff that people can control.
Josh: You know, like--it's--
Shannon: Yeah. Now, that's the beauty of it.
And, you know, interestingly enough, like metronomics, it's this big word. It's made up of three words is how we got it there. But metronomics is, you know, I joke about it, but it's a human system. It's based on human behavior. So was scrum. So is any agile methodology. And that's why, actually, it works. As long as we connect to what we're doing, and stay focused on it, and have it connect to a bigger purpose and, you know, bigger roles, it actually, humanly, you will actually pull it through as a team.
And, you know, metronomics, there's three-- you know, they’re word. You know, people think, “Oh, you know, it came from freakonomics” or whatever the other book titles is but it actually came from three things. One is the metronome. The metronome represents the fearsome, humble leader, right, that will commit, and create a system, and put a cadence in place - a disciplined cadence. Economics comes from the relationship of time to organizational value and its team value as well. And there's that-- you know, that very, very important relationship. And then the third thing is the word metric. And metric in our world equals a widget. And a widget equals the things that a team member can own.
So, it's the way to connect the team side of your business to the hard edge of your business. Because we all know that it's so easy to focus on the hard edge but, if we can't connect it back to the team and we can't connect that to cash-- you've had that experience, I've had that experience, you run out of money. And you can't make the impact that you want.
Josh: Yeah. That's absolutely true.
So, are you in favor or do you encourage your clients, who are using metronomics, to use bonuses for their people?
Shannon: So, it depends. I'm going to say that out loud. It depends.
Definitely, I'll take it from two sides. So, one side of it is what we do encourage is hiring A players. An A player is, you know, someone who will consistently exceed expectations and is not motivated by dollars, let's say, bonus dollars compensation. They're motivated by doing a really great job. And they're motivated by being measured. Usually, one of the top things in their minds is pure recognition.
Does that mean they don't want to be recognized and we don't want to have a bonus pool? Some of my clients actually do have a quarterly performance program but it's based off the widgets that they deliver balanced to the cash funds they put into their bonus pool. It’s the only way it gets triggered, right? They could do all the widgets but, if they gave them away, it didn't trigger what needs to be. So, it has to be balanced.
And other organizations I work with just, you know, decided to pay really well. They pay at the top top percentile. And they just decided, “If we're going to pay well, we'll get, you know, the best team members. And we will, you know, put it out that way.”
So, that's two extremes. And we've seen everything in between. I haven't seen any difference myself on the speed of growth of an organization based on the company that pays a really great base salary and program compared to a team that, you know, has no cap bonus program. I just want to say that loud. I'm not seeing no difference in the rate of growth in my companies.
Josh: Yeah. And that probably is true. And I think it really comes down-- You know, Peter Drucker used to talk about-- and W. Edwards Deming talked about this a lot. We were Deming people in 1982. We put our first TQM program in our food service company. And that was before scrum, and before lean, and before six sigma, and all that stuff. It was basically total quality management and Deming’s 14 points.
Shannon: Right, yeah.
Josh: That's all there was.
Josh: And if you actually look at what all these, you know, process improvement things are, they're really just based on Deming’s 14 points.
Josh: And in there it's about managers managing. It's not about-- you know, money is table stakes.
Josh: You know, I do like company‑wide bonuses. And I like it based on company‑wide profits with open book management.
Shannon: Right, I'm a yes.
Josh: The reason I like that is that, yes, widgets make a ton of sense for what you control but, if we don't see the bigger picture at the same time, it really becomes-- and it took me about 10 years to learn this. They used to call me Mr. Bonus in the food service business because I had bonuses for everything. And we did the widget bonus. And the problem with the widget bonus was one section of the company could blow the doors off while the rest of the company was losing money.
Shannon: Right, right.
And so, we did widgets. I mean, when we think of widgets, lots of people just think it's one-- you know, it's what you make. It's what you do. It's what you sell. But there’s widgets all the way through and there's company widgets. But the biggest thing is it's got to be balanced, right? So, it's got to be balanced to the lagging - the fiscal side. And the widgets are really the front end. And there's two reasons. One, you can get it out there know what your score is. But you can also know that you may be off before you're off, before you close out the month. And the earlier we know the score, through the widgets in the month, the better, right? And in the week.
And in my businesses. They were SaaS businesses. So, if we missed some new users or new clients we're putting on our platform, in the very first day of a month, we we're blowing our year, actually, because we're expecting that subscription over, and over, and over again. And so, it actually taught us great discipline to look at that at a daily level, and with the clients we work with.
And the system promotes, you know, getting it to a daily level, just to-- you know, A players want to be measured. And they want other they want others to know how they're doing. And they want that peer recognition. Hence, why, you know, we call them huddles. And we took that from Rockefeller Habits, back in the day. That same idea as the scrum. And they just want to be able to share that.
The other thing I want to say is that this system is being used out there by upwards of 90 coaches worldwide use this system. It's on, I think, every continent. It’s used in many languages. And the thing is why? It's because it's really human. And humans want that connection back not only to win, but they want the connection back to themselves.
And I think the biggest thing that leaders are excited about is it gives back time in their life. The system, well, is prescriptive. It actually lays it out time-- like every 90 days, it lays out what you should do next. And it sounds sort of ridiculous because you're going, “How can that company over there be the same as our company over here and that company over there?” But it's all really human, right?
And it will meet your team, where they are, to get you to whatever your goal is. I call it the business Olympics. Whatever you set is your business Olympics, it's set up to give you that program to get you there.
Josh: You know, Shannon, I just love the fact that you keep talking about people because I have to tell you that, when I first got into this business - in the advice business and I left the vending business, I know I've had people walk in my door and say, “I need to sell my business.” And that was really a people thing because they were burned out because they were doing the same thing they weren't very good for years, and years, and years, and years. And if we could change what they did, we’d change their happiness which was all around personal sustainability which is why we have the two sides of sustainability.
Josh: You're a fascinating person. And I think we're going to have you back on at some point again because there's a lot more I want to delve into but, unfortunately, we are out of time.
Shannon: Well, thank you.
Josh: And I'm going to bet that people are going to die to find you. So, how do they do that?
Shannon: Well, they can go to metronomeunited.com. And there's so many ways to connect there. You can also find me on LinkedIn. I love actually all the people have been reaching out. This is my third book and it's brought together that two systems of the other book. And we put them all together and shared it. And so, everyone's been reaching out over the last three months. It's been pretty exciting and really fun to connect and learn from everyone. So, thank you.
And I've got two things I want you to do. The first is, I ask every single episode. I've been doing this for about six and a half years now. So, for six and a half years I've been asking you to do this and we're going to ask again today. Please go to wherever you're listening to this podcast and leave us an honest rating and review. It's really important to help people find us.
The second thing is, well, about three weeks ago, my second book made it out into the wild. It's a continuation of my first book. It’s still a business parable. I like stories. Most people I work with like stories. And it's a story with our friends at the Aardvard family. I happen to be selling the book for half price on my website. So, if you want to get it for half price, you can get it for-- I don't know how long it's going to be doing this for but I'm going to do it for a while. And you can find it pretty easily, just go to www.salereadycompany.com. That’s www.salereadycompany.com and you'll learn what a family transition looks like and how you create a sale‑ready company even if you have no interest in selling which almost everybody I talk to tells me.
So, this is Josh Patrick. We're with Shannon Susko. You're at Cracking the Cash Flow Code. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.
Narrator: You've been listening to Cracking the Cash Flow Code where we ask the question, “What would it take for your business to still be around a hundred years from now?”
If you've liked what you've heard and want more information, please contact Josh Patrick at 802-846-1264 extension 102, or visit us on our website at www.sustainablebusiness.co, or you can send Josh an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for listening and we hope to see you at Cracking the Cash Flow Code in the near future.