In one my business school classes we had Mr. Leonard Lavin come speak to us about entrepreneurship.  Mr. Lavin is an American businessman, who founded the Alberto-Culver Company in 1955.  Alberto-Culver was a corporation with international sales whose principal business is manufacturing hair and skin beauty care products under such brands as Alberto VO5, Andrew Collinge, St. Ives (skin care products), TRESemme, FDS, Consort, and Nexxus.  Alberto-Culver was purchased by the Anglo-Dutch consumer goods company Unilever on September 27, 2010 for US$3.7 billion.

When asked about his education Mr. Lavin said his business education came in the form of an MBWA, “master by walking around.”  This means that everyday Mr. Lavin is speaking with his employees of all levels and directly observing how things are run.  Words cannot express how important a ground-level understanding of the day-to-day operations.

Business shouldn’t be run from the boardroom using only preformance reports and metrics to steer its direction.  However, as companies grow, leadership finds it difficult find the time to do this crucial research.  In one episode of Undercover Boss, Gina Rivera, Founder and President of Phenix Salons INC., a franchise which offers independent salon and business professionals the opportunity to own and operate their own luxury salon suites, goes undercover to see if it will color her perception of how the company is running.  As this company is making that difficult transition from small to medium sized enterprise, Ms. Rivera realized she was losing ground-level knowledge of what her franchisees are experiencing.  A must watch!