By John Drake | November 19, 2020

At The Gunter Group, the leadership traits and characteristics that define us are our Non-Negotiables: Collaborative, Integrity, Intellectual Curiosity, Thrives in Ambiguity, Emotional Intelligence, and Grounded Confidence. These traits and characteristics guide us every day in our interactions with clients, each other, and our community.

At TGG, we value the ability to thrive in AMBIGUITY because it enables us to embrace the unique challenges our clients face. With a collaborative team who share diverse backgrounds and experiences, we partner with our clients to navigate complex and uncharted terrain. By utilizing cutting edge tools and applying lessons learned, we trek through the obscure to create structure and definition so that our clients’ visions become reality.

One thing that sets TGG apart from our competitors is our approach to solving client challenges. We understand that each engagement is unique and often highly ambiguous—and adjust our approach accordingly. Some of our clients have a clearly defined program scope, while others simply know they need to get something done but are unsure where to start. Our team approaches complex challenges with curiosity and adaptability to cut through the ambiguity and chart a path towards meaningful change. We lead by asking questions, taking notes, and synthesizing complex sets of information to help our clients move forward effectively. We build from the details and then apply best practices from our past experiences, drawing from our client’s strengths and knowledge in a collaborative effort to build structure and deliver results.

Several years ago, we partnered with one of Oregon’s largest employers to lead a significant initiative to transform their struggling operations department within the company’s second-largest line of business. Sales were lagging, employee turnover was high, and morale was low. From the onset, the need for change was evident but the cause of the underperforming business and approach to the turnaround strategy was unclear. 

To understand the big picture, we had to dive deep. We took a data and process-driven approach. We performed a comprehensive current state analysis and used the findings to inform a strategy, define a future state, and build an implementation plan with our partners. With an informed and clearly defined plan in place, we implemented standardized processes and reconfigured systems and tools to reduce inefficiencies. We outlined resource needs and constraints to stabilize operations, worked with internal partners to revamp the product line to make them more marketable and profitable, and developed measurable KPIs to evaluate the strategy and make adjustments where necessary. By defining an effective change management strategy and plan we worked with the client team to deliver this transformation with cohesive messaging that was compelling to the organization, clients, and target customers.

Often, the key to gaining traction and building a strategy that works is first fully understanding the situation and the problems that need to be solved. Comprehensive current state analysis, input from all levels of the organization, and effective change management helped clear a path forward. The result was record annual revenue in a $300M+ line of business, decreased silos across the organization, and new streamlined processes and tools. This is just one example of how we are often brought into a highly ambiguous situation, bring structure to the ill-defined, and drive clarity.

We have made it a priority to build a team capable of thriving in ambiguous situations so that we can help our partners develop and implement creative and comprehensive solutions for their organizations.

More about John Drake:
John has developed broad experience in managing client business needs and relationships in a wide variety of complex environments. He is adept at creating structure around ambiguous deliverables by digging into the details in data-driven environments. Comfortable in any client setting, John is able to integrate within different teams, quickly understand the complexities of the task at hand and, above all, add value. John possesses diverse experience working in high-tech, retail, construction, power utilities, and training and development industries. From project managing large projects and developing organizational process improvements as a business analyst to overhauling a company’s CRM system, John can tackle client needs from many angles. John holds a B.A. from the University of Oregon and an M.P.A. from Portland State University. He is also a Certified Scrum Master and SAFe 5 Agilist. Outside of work, you’ll find John on the mountain bike trails in the sun and rain and on the mountain when there’s snow.

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