What Does 100% Look Like In Your Business?
Let me take you back to 1996/ 97 (if you were not born, then try to imagine it!) …
September ‘96, I had just sold my first business. My girlfriend at the time and I were flying out on holiday; leaving our current rental in Windsor and returning to a different part of the UK with a new company, role and challenge.
It was all very exciting; I had just turned twenty-nine and had completed one of my ambitions to sell my five-year-old business.
I was part of a new management team, all roughly the same age with the mind set we were going to change the world. Well, our part of it anyway.
The culture was fantastic and one of the reasons I decided to sell. We socialised together, worked together and experienced quick growth. In less than a year we had moved to purpose-built offices and grew the staff from eight to over thirty.
It was during one of our ‘social’ trips for a weekend away that I saw the sign “100% Success Rate” on a leaflet at the venue we were at. Now, that is a pretty good claim, but when I tell you we were on a free fall parachute jump weekend, you will understand why I nearly spat my coffee out! I think my exact words to the pack leader was:
“We would not be here if it was anything less!”
Whilst this was a humorous observation that kept on resurfacing over the entire weekend along the lines of … are you 100% sure… will 100% of us jump; the course leader soon got tired of us.
But this concept of 100% stuck with me and followed me into business.
It’s now a key part of my SCALE Model™ and is widely used as the start point in any planning, conversation, expectation or delivery.
I can definitely say the 100% concept resulted in a mind-set shift that ended up us selling the new business in the same year. I must add there was no plan for a sale (I’ve since learned that is now the wrong way to run a business), and we had three independent approaches.
So, what is this 100% concept?
I will give you a few examples of how I use it so that you can get the feel, but in essence it’s really simple: I assume that everything works to 100% and plan all aspects of a business to this effect.
The first area was with my team: we asked everybody what 100% look would like in their role. For a willing person this unlocks their latent ambition and the suggestions we received were incredible. What we realised was that we had put a ‘glass ceiling’ on them by trying to give them targets and goals.
Following this, we asked what we would need to do to help them achieve their 100%. This helped connect the dots between their potential and requirements.
Finally, we asked about reward and consequences for achieving or not achieving. The last bit was mainly unnecessary as the motivation from the team after this exercise was amazing. The biggest bonus was they no longer needed managing and just got on with it and the – let’s say weaker members – self-selected themselves out of the door.
We then turned ourselves to our customers and asked the same question: What would 100% look like for them?
This created a whole new Customer Journey from onboarding through to installation, training, check-in in visits, random (or not so) acts of kindness and support (we were a software house) that was recognised through many industry awards, competitor wins and substantial growth. It was also LOTS of fun as we were designing something, we all wanted to be part of NOT fixing things after the impact.
Everybody in the business knew the part they had to play and what should have happened before and after their involvement.
One of the challenges as you grow a business is you need to create departments of many or one, and people responsible for departments. Depending on the level of these people they try to protect their area and a blame culture starts to creep in. The business becomes siloed. With our what would 100% look like culture there were no departments as such in the customers eyes; it was just one straight through process that was defined in terms of what we would do at each stage, what communication would happen and what assets would be used at that point. Assets were things like pre-defined letters or manuals or a post card, a phone call or even a visit. All were planned to deliver 100%.
Of course, things did not go to plan but in that situation the team looked at the cause and a new part of the customer journey was created to eradicate the potential for it happening again.
The clearest evidence of the 100% working was during the due diligence of the sales process. We were given a list of questions that would determine the value of the business and one was: “What is your development process?”. Now you have to remember we were entrepreneurs so lacked a few processes and more made them up as we went along.
It was a Friday and we had the ‘development’ meeting on the Monday. Richard, one of the owners and I went to our usual Friday office (the local pub) and over a beer asked what we would do for a 100% development process and created a flow on a napkin. Of course, what we really did was put onto paper the process we were really doing anyway. After a few more drinks we went back to the office and bought alive our napkin process ready for our grilling on Monday.
Fast forward a few months after completion of the sale and I have been invited to our new owner’s development meeting.
I’m sat in this meeting with some big hitters to talk about development. You should also know that what I know about development can be written on a napkin, literally.
One of the senior guys stands up and announces that their business was going to adopt a new development process as it was part of the reason they bought our company, and Martin was here to explain it.
I managed to get through my impromptu presentation without laughing but realised that our end-to-end 100% process was a new way of thinking for this corporate as they were so siloed, they could only see a technical aspect driving the whole process where as the napkin process started and ended with the customer.
There are SO many examples of the 100% rule working in my businesses over the years I could write a book (now that’s an idea…).
For you it’s just a simple expression that by asking it unlocks the potential of your business and provides a real opportunity to have a performance business yielding the results you want and deserve.
And I mean that, 100% !
The Scalability Coach | Britain’s Top 10 Adviser 2018 | Author of #1 bestseller I don’t work Fridays | Ex-CEO of a PLC