There are a few ways to win at business and many ways to lose. One of my colleagues uses the metaphor of a target. There are a few ways to hit a target and nearly infinite ways to miss.
Lucky parts of the world will have incredible views of the upcoming full solar eclipse. I will be in one of those locations. There are only a few ways to protect one’s vision when viewing the eclipse, namely approved glasses. One web site I was reading gave many ways NOT to view safely including caution NOT to use black trash bags, layers of undeveloped film or several sunglasses at once. In short, there are lots of ways to go blind and a few ways to view the sun safely.
Too often leaders and their organizations lose track of the simple ways to win. One leader I know boils down his business to “get work and deliver work.” Companies can lose enormous sums by allowing distraction from core ways to win. If only VW had delivered vehicles that met emissions standards. If only Wells Fargo had opened banking accounts based on client need.
A simple and profound way to not lose value in an organization is to NOT alienate customers. When contacting our air conditioning company for a service check, the scheduler informed me a technician would be there between 7pm and midnight. I informed her that ours was not an emergency and that I did not want an appointment that late. She said that I was to call back and reschedule if the technician was still not there when we were ready to go to bed. That’s crazy and I told her so. What a novel way to alienate a client! Again, many ways to fail, a few ways to win.
Some suggestions for leaders to keep focus on the few ways to win:
Talk about how your business wins. Is it time to market? Is it following the needs of key clients? Is it delivering work on budget? Whatever it is talk about it frequently in the organization.
Use winning as a litmus test. For example, does this course of action inhibit us from getting new clients or servicing current ones adequately?
Align activity at each level. For example, how easy is it for clients to find and contact their service contacts?
There’s a saying that work will naturally expand to fill the time allotted to it. As leaders we need to make sure that people are using their work week to move those things that matter. Everything else is a step to losing.