If You Want Your Organization to Fail, Focus on Results
Author: Bryan Ritchie
Many organizations believe that they can mandate outcomes. It’s almost as if they believe that by only focusing on the outcome, they can make it happen. For example, I love it when the government says it is going to implement policies to increase jobs. But can government create jobs? Outside of increasing employment in government, jobs cannot be created by fiat. One cannot say: let there be more jobs, and they appear. In reality, it is companies and nonprofit organizations that create jobs, not government. To create jobs one must back up a step and do the thing that results in jobs, create more companies!
This same observation can be made with respect to three important indicators of an organization’s success: financial results, employee engagement, and a culture of performance. Now I’m not suggesting that organizations shouldn’t desire to achieve these three things. Nor am I saying that they are not evidence of success. What I am saying is that trying to achieve any one of the three by focusing on it directly is a sure recipe for failure.
Why is a focus on results a recipe to ensure that the results don’t happen? Because it is not the result that causes the result! Rather, it is a behavior that must be done repetitively that leads to the outcome. If jobs are the outcome we seek, then we need to create more or bigger companies since it is companies that create jobs. For organizations, if we want better financial results, then we have to increase sales, develop new products, reduce costs, and so on. More engaged employees comes from expanding involvement, ownership, validation, personal development, team unity and, at least a little bit, compensation. If we want a more intensely shared culture of performance, we must focus on strategic clarity, more tightly linked and effective processes and systems, and robust results tracking and accountability.
These “levers” we can pull to get the results we desire are called leading behaviors. When an organization tries to impact results directly, without working through the leading behaviors, the unintended consequence is that even if the objectives are reached, they are almost always forced, inauthentic, and temporary. The most recent issue of the Harvard Business Review noted this with respect to culture. It said that culture is the result of the behaviors of an organization and could not be impacted directly. Instead, culture improves when an organization gets the fundamentals right. We couldn’t agree more. In fact, culture is nothing more than an amalgamation of the habits of the people who make up an organization. To change culture, you must change habits!
The same is true with financial results and employee engagement. But perhaps the biggest insight is that all three are tightly knit together! If you can get the fundamentals right you can get all three of these outcomes simultaneously. Like any great sports team, working on the fundamentals is what changes habits. Habits are inculcated over time, through disciplined practice and effort. It’s constant focus on the habits and behaviors that drive the results–financial, engagement, culture, or otherwise–that we seek.
The key starting fundamentals include the following:
- Strategic Alignment–ensure that the organization has defined clearly its mission, values, vision, and strategy
- Personnel Performance–align people and skills to the organization’s strategy. Always hire and develop with the strategy in mind
- Operational Execution–develop goals and KPIs that align with the organization’s strategy. Make sure that all goals in the organization are causally connected from the front line to the top of the organization
- Results Accountability–create player scoreboards that are visible to everyone in the organization. Then demand that all teams hold themselves accountable to the actions that will accomplish their individual strategies and objectives
- Team Strength–take time to “sharpen the saw” with respect to the team’s ability to work together. Ensure there is the right level of trust, best practice sharing, and competition
How is your organization doing on the leading behaviors? Find out by taking the SPORT assessment, found here. After taking the assessment you will get a SPORT score as well as ideas on how to improve any areas of weakness your organization might have.
Bryan Ritchie and James Western are co-founders of GrowthSPORT, a successful consulting company whose mission is to improve SCORES (Stimulate Culture, Optimize Results and Engage Staff) for Teams, Divisions, Departments and Organizations through the SPORT model (Strategic Alignment, Personnel Performance, Operational Execution, Results Accountability and Team Strength), which are the Five Core Elements of Success.
GrowthSPORT provides resources, tools and experienced consultants to effectively implement the SPORT performance model from companies ranging from Startups to Fortune 500 companies.
Feel free to reach out to GrowthSPORT at (801) 676-2500 or at www.growth-sport.com.