This phrase refers to a tendency of militaries to engage an opponent in the same way as the “last war fought.” With generations often passing between large-scale conflicts, changing global dynamics means the past may have less relevance to the present. This explains how a team of cavalry could show up to stare down an enemy’s fleet of combat tanks.

I rely heavily on my 30-plus years of management experience in trying to solve most challenges. But as the hair grows “whiter,” I’m sensing yesterday’s “bulletproof strategy” may not always land like it once did. 

This is also true in a business like ours with a leadership team that has, on average, 39 years of experience. We’ve “seen it a lot” and like to draw on our past for meeting any challenge. 

But with change comes new variables — in product technologies, customer behavior, consolidation and distribution, to name a few. But what confounds us the most are employees, namely their motivations. 

That’s why I was excited to hear our advisors challenged us to build a “Planning & Executing Transitional Management” themed Dealership Minds Summit in Madison, Wis., this August. I’ll be in the front row, taking notes, asking questions and learning from the brightest minds around. A tidal wave of Baby Boomer retirements mean it’s time to get serious about recruitment, retention and rewards. Click here for program.

Retiring Right

What must happen for you to retire with a good conscience? Many of you can’t yet walk away because of an unprepared bench. Retiring the “right way” means you’ve exposed and prepared those who follow. Keeping your covenants to those you gave your career to — your teammates, customers and company — means starting today.

Cross-Generational Aims

All ages must begin to work jointly in leveraging the commonalities, not differences, as the cornerstone of the relationship. Participation requires a reciprocal and trusting partnership. Know that it will test both parties’ patience…

Org Charts

My dad’s entrepreneurial ways worked in his time, and he can still be puzzled by “managerial decision making.” But we needed a different structure as the business became larger and more complex. Even so, having 7 direct reports tests the limits of my ability to coach, but I’m blessed that they’re motivated and operate as they do. But retirements loom for us as well. Many of us are too “hands on” to do what’s needed “people-wise,” and that’s a worthwhile goal for me this quarter.


Moving from a task- to people-focus means a departure from the orderly and efficient styles many of us like. To do what is necessary on the people-front means more time spent, more chaos, less efficient meetings and a chance for every voice to be heard. Collaborative decision making is a requirement for its teaching benefits.

Open Motivations

Not everyone, even high performers, aspires for career growth like prior generations. Remember when we were starving to do something new and exciting, to call something our own and to gain bold experience — as much for the challenge as the resume-builder? Many appear stress-avoidant (even the good kind of stress) and financial rewards don’t work like they once did.

New … ‘Boots on the Ground’ 

We’re happy to report a new “Boots on the Ground” series (click here). Associate Editor Ben Thorpe committed to regularly traveling to Indiana’s Alliance Tractor to share the 4-store dealership’s successes, challenges and lessons learned in “real time” in a new multimedia series. Thanks to Yetter Mfg. for helping with the expenses in a first-ever project guaranteed to give you new perspective.

Maybe through that project, we’ll all learn from the youth movement as we look through their lens and what they find unique about this great business we cover.

Come join me in the front row in Madison this summer for the Dealership Minds Summit!