Adopting A “Pay It Forward” Program

My grandfather served in the US Army in World War II in Germany fighting the Nazis in France and Germany. As such, he and his generation (The Greatest Generation, for sure) literally won the war in the European theater between 1941 and 1945. Growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, I remember my grandfather telling me stories of his army buddies who faced death every day and how they supported one another in every way possible regardless of circumstance. My grandfather’s phrase for this was “Pay It Forward” which meant “invest now and the payoff will be down the road” for you and your team. In the era of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to explicitly invest in and develop “Pay It Forward” programs.

Pay It Forward: Point of Departure

Our firm, Quadrillion Partners, advises and invests in businesses in situations where we can add real value to a company’s strategy, operations, and financial management. Unlike other advisors, we work with business owners and activist management teams, partnering side-by-side on implementation activities that facilitate growth, that improve profitability and that improve the odds of success.

In many ways, our core operating philosophy embodies a “Pay It Forward” model. We’ve learned that investing resources, time, and personal integrity with business owners and management teams to solve difficult challenges is a rewarding way to do business.

Pay It Forward: Your New Program

Wondering how you can adopt a Pay It Forward program in your business? Here are four tips to help you implement a “Pay It Forward” plan at your company:

Make Your Purpose Explicit

Your customers and your team need to know why your company exists and what needs you are fulfilling. Being purposeful is an important trait of successful business leaders and part of what you need to do as a business owner is to lead by example and with a goal in mind.

Brainstorm with Your Team Ideas to Help Customers and Stakeholders

Intuitively, most people want to help others be successful. It’s part of human nature. Your team is no exception. Ask them what ideas they believe are most important for your customers. Ask them what other stakeholders (employees, suppliers, communities, et. al.) can benefit from actions you take today. Develop a prioritized list of ideas with your team and select the top three that are most important.

Give Your Team Room To Execute

Let’s face it – time is the one thing that is most precious to all of us. You and your team’s time are no exception. That said, it is important to give your team the bandwidth and runway to execute on your prioritized “Pay It Forward” initiatives. Bandwidth also means empowering your team to take ownership of the initiative and its results.

Measure Outcomes and Celebrate Success

Like most things in business (and life), it is important to measure outcomes and to celebrate wins on a regular basis. In “Pay It Forward” programs, understanding how your efforts benefit each stakeholder is important and should provide you and your team with feedback from which you can improve your process. It’s also critical to celebrate your successes regularly.