It’s not often that one finds inspiration from a Jeep’s spare cover tire. But the simple message of “One life, live it,” seems to have resonated with Doug Johnson.
The chief strategy officer for LMI Solutions is fast approaching 40 years in the office technology industry, but possesses a zeal for business and life befitting a fresh-eyed college graduate. Thus, it is easy to see why Johnson feeds off of collaborating with and mentoring LMI team members, which in turn constantly renews his perspective and validates his position among the 2017 ENX Magazine Difference Makers.
“I’m very fortunate to work with a young, talented set of individuals at LMI,” Johnson said. “They are imminently coachable, eager to grow and learn, and make an impact on the industry. That enables me to do what I enjoy most—coaching and mentoring talent. It keeps my perspective on the industry fresh, as I see opportunity through the eyes of people with 30-plus more years of career in front of them.”
Johnson cut his industry teeth with HP’s disc drive business starting in 1981. As the HP LaserJet business was developing mid-decade, the company sought out people in its Business Development division to sign up dealers. While Johnson had only done R&D and production work up to that point, HP’s Russ Buschert gave Johnson a shot, which turned into a golden opportunity to grow his knowledge base.
It is only appropriate, given his title with LMI, that Johnson prefers to view business challenges through a strategic lens. “Often, what seem to be disparate problems for ourselves, our dealers and/or their customers are really often connected at a strategic level,” Johnson said. “Solutions that are grounded in strategy and a longer term view often are more disruptive and impactful in the market than ‘point’ solutions to individual problems.”
Johnson credits a number of industry professionals with being instrumental in his development, individuals who saw past his experience level in those early years because his skill sets superseded his qualifications. HP’s Neil Martini and Carolyn Ticknor are two such mentors. Martini provided much grounding on how to manage at a senior level, as well as navigating and coaching functional staff globally. Ticknor proved to be a role model for the “strategic lens” aspect of approaching challenges.
The 2016 campaign was one marked by perseverance for LMI Solutions, as the company positioned itself toward becoming a managed business services infrastructure company. Despite numerous obstacles along the way of what is poised to be a multi-year endeavor, the company is undaunted in its quest to achieve the transformation. While print-related services are a focal point for 2017 and 2018, LMI is adding document workflow, IT and managed energy services to its portfolio with pilot accounts.
Patience will be the key to gaining momentum going forward, according to Johnson. It is easier said than done.
“I sometimes—maybe most of the time—am not patient enough to let strategies and plans play out,” he admitted. “It’s a double-edged sword, though. Sometimes the lack of patience drives change faster. It is balance that I think may be the key. I haven’t found it yet…and I’m getting old, so I may never find it.”
Away from the office, Johnson enjoys spending time with his wife, who owns her own business, making time together a premium. He enjoys riding his Harley and “LinkedIn” chopper. The Johnsons have five adult children and five grandchildren.
“I have no bigger fans than my grandkids,” Johnson said.