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Charles Phillips and the Rules of Innovation

Charles Phillips, Infor CEO, is known for his military background, his law degree, and his MBA. He has worked in many different top strategic positions in global companies. Unsurprisingly, Phillips plays things by the rules. However, he also writes his own rules, and when it comes to his staff at Infor, the rule is that everyone should be committed to innovation.

Building a Quality Workforce

According to Charles Phillips, his workforce is his greatest asset. This is why rule number one for Infor is to only hire people who are truly brilliant at their job. His second rule is that he will only hire people who he actually likes and would enjoy sharing a meal with. According to Phillips, if it is impossible to spend an evening around a table together enjoying each other’s company, it would be impossible to sit around a table for an entire day to work either. And sitting around a table is exactly what staff at Infor do: there is just a single desk that is used by the entire executive team. As such, Phillips has taken the ‘open door policy’ a step further, ensuring anyone can come in and speak to any member of the executive team. This causes interruptions, but Phillips feels these interruptions actually increase productivity.

For Phillips, sharing is caring, which is why he shares his work table. He does spend a lot of time in the office, but he also makes sure that he has dinner with his colleagues regularly, unless they are traveling, and they even have contact over the weekend. That isn’t all work-related. Rather, he believes that having that personal connection and communication with the team means they work better as a whole and can make decisions quicker than ever before.

Phillips has another major rule: it should never take more than 24 hours to make a decision. This is why he does not have meetings for the sake of having meetings, and why he answers every email he receives himself, immediately, regardless of what time it is. He does not demand the same of his staff, but he has inspired many to do exactly that. He believes that this responsiveness he shows is inspirational and people can choose to either join in, or be left behind. The pace is fast, and that can take a while to get used to, but it works.

One of Phillips’ latest acquisitions at Infor is Lawson. When this acquisition happened, they had actually been attempting for three years to hire new developers. On the very first day following the acquisition, Phillips approved 81 new contracts for employees. However, it still took a further three weeks before staff was actually added, because it was feared that one of the approval layers had been missed. It hadn’t, that is just the way Infor works: quickly, decisively, and innovatively. It is no surprise that Infor truly is the company to watch, reaching for very big things.

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