What can we learn from successful sporting organisations? Plenty it turns out. Read on.
I watched the final of the Champions Cup Rugby recently, where Saracens beat Leinster (13th May 2019).
As I’ve written before, I love a good sports to business crossover story, and the post-game interview with Mark McCall, the victorious Saracens coach, had two pearls of wisdom for any aspiring organisation.
I wanted to apply that wisdom to your business to see if it helps spark any new ideas.
In 2014 Saracens made the Premiership final, and also the European final (now known as the Champions Cup).
They lost both in the space of a week.
McCall said, “We lost easily to Toulon and then we lost in painful circumstances against Northampton. You felt like the rugby gods were against you but when we got together again we understood we just weren’t good enough. We needed to improve individually and collectively and be clear with the players about how we were going to do that. Two years later we won both titles.”
They realised they weren’t good enough and set about doing what was necessary to achieve their goals.
Where are you not good enough in your business? Individually and collectively.
It’s a great conversation starter don’t you think? Have you sat down with your team and asked that question? You might be pleasantly surprised by what comes back.
When I go into a consulting job, I always tell the owner that they could save themselves a lot of money by just asking their team what needs fixing. The team always know what’s not right. They may not know how to fix it, so I’ve still got a job, but they always know what needs improving.
Where could you improve as a business owner and leader?
This is not a question to beat yourself up with. You can acknowledge that things are good in your business and your life, and still ask this question to see where the next growth opportunities lie.
One of the joys of life is learning new skills and seeing them translate into better results. It can happen in your family life, in your hobbies or sports and in your business.
And it leads me onto McCall’s second point.
In 2016 Saracens won the Premiership beating the Exeter Chiefs.
McCall said, “You think you’re going to be happy forever, there’s going to be nonstop joy. But after those 2016 finals, we got together as a staff three days later and asked how everyone was feeling. Everyone had experienced the same anticlimax: it turned out the joy hadn’t lasted that long. It was a wake up to us that we needed to enjoy it day to day.”
It’s great to have goals and to be chasing them down. And it’s also important to enjoy yourself along the way.
One of my favourite affirmations is “How I live today, is how I live my life.”
Working hard and getting after your dreams can be loads of fun and hugely rewarding.
It doesn’t have to be a hard slog.
In my experience, when it is a hard slog, it’s usually a sign of underlying problems, that if fixed, can transform your days and weeks into something fun.
What would make working life more fun for you and your team?
At FP Advance we found a few simple ideas that were transformational for us, and have been transformational for our clients as well.
Effective annual business planning
That means having an inspiring and compelling 10 year Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG), and a clear picture of what the business will look like in 3 years time.
It also means having a solid operational plan for the next 12 months, with 3 or 4 goals for the year and smaller objectives for every quarter.
Weekly leadership team meetings that solve issues
Every week we hold a leadership team meeting for 90 minutes and resolve the issues that arise in our business.
Conducting effective quarterly reviews
At the end of each quarter, we conduct a review that lets us reflect on what went well, what we learned, and how we can improve in the next 90-day cycle.
Planning every week
Every Sunday night we plan our upcoming week in detail. That means having to choose what we will focus our limited time and energy on. The stuff that doesn’t make the cut for that week, gets rescheduled for a future week.
Some stuff just never makes it to the top of our list and eventually gets deleted. That’s fine. You can’t do it all.
Planning each day
Every morning we plan what’s going to happen that day. Lots of this is already scheduled, with commitments in the diary, as well as from the weekly planning session.
However, priorities might need to be adjusted day to day, and once again we’re not trying to get it all done. We’re trying to do what will make the biggest difference.
Assembling a great team
This last one was the game changer. Getting the right team in place means Debbie and I can focus on what we love and are good at. Our team, who are a collection of outsourced specialists, do the same.
The final word
When you make work fun and enjoyable, you feel like you could do it forever. It’s marathon pace, not sprinting and collapsing in a heap.
If work is not fun, you’re not even sure you can do it next year, let alone for the long haul.
I’ll leave the final words to Mark McCall:
“They were two really important lessons: being clear about how we were going to get better and making sure we created a good, stimulating, challenging, fun place to come to work. We’ve tried to do both since then. That’s kind of it.”
Let me know how you go.