By Lisa Woodall
How many of us are struggling with how to get our business to operate more cohesively and focus our teams on what matters?
How many of us are struggling with getting all levels of the hierarchy to provide direction, to shape, to plan, improve to serve our customers in the best way possible?
How many of us are trying to find ways to empower our teams, listen to their ideas and support them in driving their ideas forward?
Every time I’m faced with these conversations I end up back in the late 90s sitting listening to the CEO talk about the exec and heads moving out of the way and giving those that are closet to the problem and the outcomes, the time and space to come up with the solutions that work for them..
Challenges would be set, workout teams would be selected, and. a flurry of activity would happen next.
We would be designing outcomes with sponsors, gathering the all-important pre-workout data and research packs and then facilitating teams through what was known as the WorkOut process – high energy, lots of post-it notes, lots of data analysis, stress testing outcome assumptions and pitching the proposals getting agreement and driving the results.
The outcomes were impressive – not only did we generally smash the targets set, but the team spirit, the discipline of having facts behind the ideas, and the recognition that the team would need to act on the recommendations and implement the ideas drove a culture of delivery and action rather than the discussion and speculation that existed beforehand.
So what did I learn way back when and what do I hope for in how businesses operate today – it’s common sense.
1. Get sponsors who can set the challenge and remove barriers – who are open to looking at challenges from new perspectives but who can be clear on outcomes and engaged when the team need support.
2. Have that all vital data pack of critical data and research that can be the basis of baselines that options can be assessed in terms of how they would move the dial on the data and performance points to get the desired outcomes.
3. Provide the team with strong, high energy facilitation – to get the cross functional teams coming up with ideas, recommendations and plans.
4. Be prepared to see engagement rise, ownership increase and team members grow in confidence, business understanding and speed of action when you get those closest to the action driving the changes needed to drive better results.
5. And realise when the whole approach is reviewed that not only have you got the results but you’ve changed the culture. It’s highly likely that you would have also identified untapped potential in your teams who have risen to the surface and will go on to more incredible things in the future.
What’s different then than now – now we have far better workshop tools and environments – now we have less hierarchical leaders – now we have access to far more data and organisational insight (if we can spend a couple of weeks ahead of kick-off getting it into shape). We are more used to working in cross-functional teams.
The key for me, though, is the intervention is still required, and the clarity in outcomes and enabling the team to succeed still needs to improve.
Are you getting the data packs together, setting the audacious goals and spinning up teams to get cracking on solving that matters can be solved at pace with a high probability that material outcomes in performance will result?
Look up “workout GE” and maybe run a trial to see what difference it can make.