We just returned from a short family holiday at the Gold Coast (to our international readers, it is a popular beach-side holiday destination). One morning, I was walking on the beach with my younger son watching the sunrise when I noticed that he was drifting towards me as he walked along. I had also noticed during his driving lessons that he tends to sway to the left of the lane.
I talked to him about this and suggested that he focused on a point in the distance. He picked the point where a distant cliff met the ocean. As he walked focused on this point, the destination goal, the problem was immediately fixed.
The same is true in businesses. Without a clear goal, businesses drift on a path dictated by random projects. It is common for leadership teams to develop strategies to advance the business, but in most businesses, these are not commonly understood by many employees.
I have dedicated the first chapter of my latest book, ADVANCE, on this very point. In chapter 1, “Paint the Big Picture”, I share simple steps to effectively increase the understanding of the vision and inspire employees to take appropriate action to make the vision a reality.
In their best-selling book Switch, brothers Dan and Chip Heath share a case study from BP (British Petroleum). When Ian Vann started as the head of oil exploration in 1989, BP’s success rate for drilling new oil wells was 20%. Ian wanted to inspire the team to do better, despite the fact that this was industry benchmark at the time. They were the best. His vision was “No More Dry Holes”. This was received with despair initially, but Ian demonstrated that this was not a wish but a strategy and focus for BP. By the year 2000 they had improved drilling success to 66%. Not bad!
A clear simplified strategical focus delivers wonders to businesses and I have seen and experienced this over and over.
So, here are a few questions for you to ponder:
- Is your business / site vision clear and simple?
- If you ask your leadership team members individually, would they all articulate it the same?
- Do the shop-floor members (or two levels below the leadership team), understand the business / site strategy?
PS: When I was walking with my son, I know that some of you could think that I could’ve perhaps drifted onto my son’s path. I can guarantee to you that I was completely sober 🙂