This isn’t homage to Harry and co. It’s just that I spoke to someone the other day who was trying to indicate that they were doing really well. I say indicate because there was not a lot of factual evidence, but it was more of a feel good factor.
They used the metaphor of running really fast and getting lots of stuff done, again there was not a lot of evidence that had manifested itself into real results.
So in my usual subtle way (people who have worked with me know I don’t have a subtle bone in my body), I explained that surely all this great stuff and feedback they were getting about what they were doing should manifest itself in something tangible which would result in money!
On reflection our intrepid entrepreneur had a realisation that with all this stuff they were focusing on was resulting in SFA (technical term) so using their metaphor back at them, yes they were running really fast, BUT in the WRONG direction.
A big part of driving a successful business is to make sure that everything is aligned to the goal or objectives of the business, whether that is a weekly, monthly or greater goal. Without this alignment it is highly possible that the key resources are heading in the wrong direction, which of course would mean failing to achieve the end goal.
Examples of this are in everything we see across business, sports, family life, education etc.
Let’s look at the massive success of the British Cycling team: how did they become so successful? Was it the lottery funding – maybe, a rich vein of talent – perhaps, the now famous aggregation of marginal gains –possibly. But if you talk to the people on the inside (and our business has worked with one of the Olympic cyclists), then this is the message:
“At the end of the day, we’re trying to do two things – win medals and get more people playing the sport. As long as you do those two things, you get momentum and growth. That’s been the journey for the last 14 years.”
This is all about creating and sharing a vision – not just about securing the funding.
It is the sharing of a simple vision and ensuring that everybody is on the same page that will align the people to a common goal and cause. It is of course not only the people, but also the systems, the structure, the skillsets, the strategy – everything.
Take another area that the Brits were in the wilderness for years and years – Gymnastics. In 2010 following a grass roots review of the whole ethos of Gymnastics, their technical supremo, Tevor Low, wrote:
“But it has been a long, slow process….in particular building up the clubs and coaches. One of our early mentors, preached his message over and over: if you make clubs stronger, you make coaches stronger, and you’re going to start producing…. What was missing was we didn’t have the infrastructure, the tradition, the strength in our clubs and facilities. But now we’ve got some of finest facilities in Europe.”
The catalyst to this was a ‘lack of cash’ and for this reason they had to look at other options. Alignment to a simple vision was key.
Five years on and the Brits are doing rather well. I saw this headline recently on the web:
02 Mar 2016 Great Britain’s Men’s team smash the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships. #WGC2015
I know what some of you are thinking; well it is different for business, we’re not even in that market, we are not in sports etc. But is it?
In 2004 I took a business that was losing £250k per month into making its first ever £1 of profit. That goal was a perfect example of alignment. Every single member of my team passionately bought into the joint vision. They weren’t simply doing their job, hitting the numbers or trying to achieve a target to avoid getting their knuckles rapped. They were involved in the destination at which we, as a unified team, were aiming to arrive. Everyone completely believed in the higher purpose and they were all inspired and excited by that version of success – not the job that they did.
Have you ever noticed the total unity of a F1 Grand Prix team? Every single member of the pit crew is dressed in the same outfit as the driver – complete with racing gloves and helmet. Between pit stops they sit together, huddled as one, as if in some imaginary cockpit alongside their driver; taking every turn with him and holding their breath as he accelerates along the home straight. When the driver emerges triumphantly into the winners area it is this team he ‘high-fives’ first, each one still clad head-to-toe as an exact replica of him. The looks on their faces and the delight emulating from their bodies easily equals that of the driver – it is as though they flew under the chequered flag at 200mph alongside him. The team’s management looks at individual performances and measures absolutely everything to the finest degree, but ultimately the entire team ‘wins together and loses together’.
In your business it is just the same, the alignment of your team and clarity about the larger goal is vitally important. If you are simply setting targets and demanding more of your staff but they do not feel any connection with the business as a whole; their role is only ever going to be ‘just a job’. Even sales people, or those in other roles where a bonus is paid for performance, will not be as engaged and focused on a simple ‘target’ as they would about a ‘vision’.
Congruence involves developing a culture, which starts with you, as the business owner, and permeates throughout every level of the organisation. Whether you are a team of three, 300, or 3,000 it works the same way, although the larger the business the harder it is to maintain – it is also fair to say that the larger the workforce the more important this unity of vision is.
So today, ask your team (which maybe just you): what is this for, why are we doing what we are doing, and how will we know when we have achieved it? If you get a few blank faces (look in the mirror) then there is a possible answer of why you are not achieving what you want…. it is because either you don’t have a view, OR you do, but you’re just not aligned to it.