Telecommunications provider Comcast Business has grown from $250 million to almost $8 billion since it started just 12 years ago under President Bill Stemper’s leadership. In an interview for my CEO radio show last week Stemper said that his leadership philosophy is to have a broad group of people at the table, and then check in with the front line reps or care agents to cut through “the noise” to make a narrow decision.
Comcast Business started with small businesses, since they had the advantage of having connections running up and down main streets and into residences all over the lower 48 states. As they proved themselves and established a brand and reputation, they started serving medium-sized regional companies and then found their “bread and butter” to be serving business with many multiple locations.
Stemper said that his business scales, and he gets the attention of CEOs when he explains that when they double the size of their company the telecom costs might go up by only 20%.
“Today’s successful CEOs understand, leverage and embrace digital transformation to win,” Stemper told me. “CEOs set the vision for how to transform their customer experience in sales, service and operations by leveraging digital’s endless capabilities.”
But how does he manage Comcast’s growth?
“There’s never one right way and there are a lot of wrong ways. To me, it’s how you build the organization and the team around you…,” Stemper said.
“I always leave meetings so much smarter, because whatever I might have thrown on the table or anybody might have thrown on the table, it got plussed up by this input; it got added to by that. It might have even gotten blown up by this very important point, and we restart it …. You do that by allowing it to happen, first and foremost.
“In that moment, wherever it goes, let it take you. And if the organization knows that’s just how we make decisions, we’re not afraid to be bold and combat; we’re not afraid to plus up.”
Stemper added: “I was fortunate in my upbringing to spend a lot of time in sales or in service, with the front line and with customers …. The fact of the matter is, the more you understand what’s really going on with the front line blows away a lot of the noise of what’s in the way of making a decision.”