In football, a “blown play” occurs when the original planned play fails to execute properly. The business equivalent of a “blown play” is when a system or procedure designed to create a specific outcome fails to come about the way it was planned. On the surface, blown plays are the result of inadequate training, preparation and communication. Go a little deeper and things like weak leadership, fragmented company culture and employee indifference add to the frequency and likelihood of blown plays.
The prime objective of leadership is consistency in execution. In my No-Compromise Leadership book, I give the following sequence:
No-Compromise Leadership = consistency in all Four Business Outcomes
(Productivity … Profitability … Staff Retention … Customer Loyalty)
Consistency = Predictability
Predictability = Accurate future mapping of the Four Business Outcomes
Accurate mapping of future outcomes = Sustainable growth
As the sequence above illustrates, the process from no-compromise leadership to sustainable growth is a continuous cycle. In order for sustainable growth to occur, no-compromise leadership must be the driving force in the process. It’s all about achieving consistency in execution by eliminating blown plays.
Here are some no-compromise strategies to banish blown plays from your company:
- See without “average” filters: If you’ve been blowing a lot of big plays – you’d be out of business already. It’s the cumulative effect of repeatedly blowing small plays that keeps a company stuck in “average.” Take off the filters and really look at how your company is executing your current systems and procedures… especially in customer service. What you’re going to see is a whole lot of little blown plays that you’ve been tolerating for too long. Companies that consistently execute plays are the companies that you admire. They excel at the details and getting the little stuff right. Take off the “average” filters and you’ll overcome the obstacles to growth and consistency that need work.
- Set and hold the “win bar” high: The reality of the “win bar” is that it’s pretty darn heavy. You need to be in shape to hold it at the highest levels where consistency and execution thrive and blown plays are rare occurrences. Yes, there will be times when things get tough, but lowering your win bar is a compromise. It’s also easy for complacency to get all over you… and therefore your team. Occasional rest stops are totally acceptable – but lowering your win bar is not. Why? Because lowering the win bar means you weren’t committed to going the distance in the first place. Teams stop believing in winning about a nanosecond after their leader stops believing. Blown plays define average. Consistency and execution define winning.
- Mental telepathy blues: Employees cannot read your mind… so why do you continue to watch blown plays happen? I’m talking about that little voice in your head that keeps repeating things like, “What were they thinking?” and, “Can’t they just do their job?” The leading people part of leadership is about communication, engagement and coaching people to be the best at what they do. Being the best translates seamlessly into consistency. So the next time that little voice starts asking questions, recognize it as a signal for you to communicate, engage and coach people to achieve their full potential.
- Train deeper: Training is preparation to play the game to win. A company’s defining commitment to consistently deliver excellence is a mirror image of its commitment to training and preparation. World-class companies are “world class” because they train deeper and harder than their competition. Too often, the rush to produce sales and revenue is done at the expense of training and preparation. Yes, blown plays are learning opportunities – but blown plays are not what “learning on the job” is about. Training is the essence of quality. Training deeper eliminates blown plays before they occur.
- Accountability isn’t a stick: You’ll never create shared accountability and eliminate blown plays using a hit list of consequences. In business, accountability transcends the individual to include the team. Simply put, accountability is embedded in the thinking and behavior of a company and its culture. The beauty of teamwork is its shared accountability for consistency and execution. The only consequence in business is losing and knowing that you and the team could have played better… but didn’t.
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