Three Steps to Success


I knew there had to be a very good reason for watching so much of the Olympics and here it is. The top three things gleaned from how Team GB have made their success happen.

 1. Incremental Improvements Make the Difference

The cyclists in particular are clear on this one.  They have teams of people looking at how very small changes to equipment, to the suits they wear and nutrition can enhance performance.  This is something all organisations can do, as long as the performance measures are in place to check that there are improvements. For organisations, this measurement needs to be in the benefit space and this is straightforward to do.  Measures can be qualitative, quantitative or audit, or a combination of all three.  In practice, what this means is that when a business improvement is suggested, it needs to be accompanied by a relevant  success measurement. This way the organisation will stay efficient and continuously improving.

2. Keep the Team Tight and Full of Winners

This is a tough one to get the nuance right, because only a few people in the team win the medals at the Olympics, but there are many in it who support and facilitate but are not in the competition to win.  However a point which has been clear from the most successful teams at this Olympics was the need to make the selection for competing places really tight and only take those who are going to excel.  Journey people, taken for the experience were not included in the very successful teams of cycling and swimming, so if they had no chance of winning a medal, they were left at home.

Translating this into organisations needs careful execution because organisations need the support team as well as the “medal winners”.  My take on this one is that to apply this successfully requires the leadership team to be very clear about shared goals.  As Sir David Brailsford formerly the performance director of British Cycling said: “Yes we want competition between team members, but the most important thing is for the team to have a shared objective”. He accepts there may be some friction within the team, as people strive to be the best they can possibly be, but the shared objective is non-negotiable. Again we know at Halo that the best way of sustaining that shared objective is to measure together to deliver together.  Again having the measures set in the goal space rather than in the transactional one is vital to keep the whole delivering together.  Easy with Halo, very tough with more transactional methods.

 3. Timely Re-setting of Goals

As soon as the Olympics are finished the top athletes re-set their goals (although hopefully after a bit of a holiday).  They work with experts to help them do this, experts like the fabulous Dr Steve Peters (The Chimp Paradox – superb book well worth reading).  Organisations and each person within those organisations need to do the same.  At The Halo Works we re-set our goals every year and review them and progress towards them on a monthly basis.  Seeing the Olympics and hearing both present and past Olympians talk about this has made me think again about how to do this. My feeling is that it is worth doing so with expert help.

Given that the need to share a common objective is so important, it is also vital that these goals are shared by all, not just in a “yes, I like that idea” way but in a much deeper and more meaningful manner.  What we know from our work with Halo is that if the shared goal is spot on then a reaction that we call “spontaneous right action” comes into play.  This is where everyone in the organisation does the right thing because programmed into them is the need to reach the goal and this governs instinctive decision making.  Clearly this is strong stuff, so the need to ensure that the goal is positive for all stakeholders is very important.

The Winning Formula

So there it is the three rules for greatness:  look for and measure incremental improvements, keep the team tight and set your goals to ensure that everyone is aiming for the same brilliance. At Halo, we specialise in helping successful organisations and people get to their own version of Olympic golds.