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MISSOULA CHAMBER: Stuck in a box? Take the pain out of growing your business

MISSOULA CHAMBER: Stuck in a box? Take the pain out of growing your business

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Colleen Rudio

Colleen Rudio

We often hear one of the predominate challenges of becoming a successful business owner or manager is isolation in our daily operations.

That is why I, as chief strategist and founder of Cascadia Business Development, designed the P5 Capacity Building Program to deliver this new comprehensive business development program and help regional businesses grow responsibly. The program is a partnership with the School of Extended and Lifelong Learning at the University of Montana and the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce. 

The P5 program is scheduled to officially begin in March, with individuals representing several business sectors and participating in facilitated roundtables throughout an entire year.

“We anticipate a high demand for this program, and as a result, will kick off new roundtables on a monthly basis throughout the year,” said Roger Maclean, dean of SELL.

This is the second year of the P5 program. New this year is a three-month intensive and engaging program that leads participants through capacity and personal strengths assessment, monthly in-person coaching sessions, monthly facilitated roundtable, as well as industry profile outlining benchmarks, challenges and opportunities.

In 2015, Cascadia, a strategic operations consulting firm committed to creating lean, conscious growth through operational excellence, facilitated a 12-month version for local businesses. Former participants have underlined the “trust and understanding” that was built, the “innovative first steps to improve business capacity” produced, the ability to relate to all forms of business and the collaboration to “offer invaluable advice” to all, and the “priceless” insights gained.

Lynne Foland, publisher for the Missoula Independent was wary at first to participate, citing common worries about the benefits versus time away from the office and relevance to her particular industry. In explaining her experience, she says, “The time spent with the group was great and I left feeling like they did relate and they offered invaluable advice. It was also reassuring to hear that those larger businesses face the same type of problems that we do – we’re not especially special or unique when it comes to management challenges.”

Nick Kaufman, vice president/principal planner for WGM Group, said he "found the presentations to be clear, concise and on point. The presentation and roundtable discussion was efficiently facilitated. The roundtable process was highly productive. The exercise sponsored trust, understanding and a willingness to share exclusive professional expertise toward each participant’s particular issue. I came away vastly enriched with ideas and an implementation strategy.”

Cascadia has also partnered with several regional organizations and delivering a custom version for local manufacturers.

The program framework is based on Cascadia’s P5 (purpose, process, product, people, profit) training model. The P5 Capacity Building Roundtables allows business people to focus on their organizations for three hours a month during the program dates, strategize with their peers, and go back to their organizations with the framework to make the right decision, at the right time, for the right reasons.

P5 is designed to systematically and directly support business leaders (owners, managers, supervisors) as they address common issues impacting organizations at various stages of growth. The program is designed to create a learning environment that is both fast-paced and high-level. Participants should come prepared to both ask and answer tough questions.

Kim Latrielle, president/CEO of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce said, “We are always looking to identify value added training for our business members. The Chamber believes the P5 classes can help assess issues and approach business in an effective and efficient manner. The format of the class encourages trust, participation and, through thoughtfully posed questions, allows you to identify the root cause of an issue. Group input and suggestions create a collaborative approach to problem solving.”

During a three-month period, participants gain in-depth knowledge and understanding of critical business topics allowing for systematic and specific improvements, creating strategic growth. The learning begins with pre-session homework, organizational assessments, and custom video featuring professional topic material experts. Time commitment is comprises nine hours of classroom time, three hours of workshop time and three hours of homework time. The three-month introductory program cost is $897 paid in full, however the program value is estimated at $4,500 in materials, education, instruction and mentoring.

Jan Schweitzer, office vice president and shareholder of Anderson ZurMuehlen said, “Being in a room with a group of experienced professionals who were able to offer practical insight and advice for my specific business issues was invaluable. Not only is it comforting to be part of a group that offers feedback in a safe environment, the energy that resulted from the session has made me motivated to look differently at the way of conducting certain practices in my office.”

Throughout the three-month program, participants will achieve the following P5 learning objectives:

1. Purpose management, including organizational development and design and leadership training.

2. Profit management, including in-depth understanding of financial management and profitability analysis.

3. Process management, including how to become a more efficient and productive organization.

4. People management, including human resource basics, and performance management

5. Product/service management, including relationship management, product and pricing strategy and sales management.

Participants may also be eligible for the Incumbent Worker Training program, a competitive grant program that provides funding to eligible businesses to purchase training for staff. Interested parties can find out more at

Colleen Rudio writes on behalf of the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce.

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