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Shifting from Middle to World Class in 10 Weeks

August 13, 2012

By Laurie Clarke, COO, The Tatham Group

For weeks they thought it would never come together.  ‘Just trust us’, we say as the look of skepticism crosses their face when asked to reach further into the unknown.  As a team that launched only ten short weeks ago worry has set in on the final stretch.  ‘Will everything get done in time for our big reveal next week?’  The team is busy focused on wrapping up their tasks and presentation while I have the luxury to step back and reflect on the whole journey.

The mandate was daunting – build a way of doing business that will consistently change to the demands of the future while remaining on the leading edge of innovation.  While true success lies only in implementing their recommendations, the team has set things up for an easy win.  They have systematically changed the way they will work as individuals and as a team.  Transforming an individual race into a relay where the future succes will only be as great as the weakest link.   The future is a team sport.

The work is high quality and will impact the growth of the organization. I have no doubt.  However, this isn’t the part that makes me most excited as I expected as much.  It’s the personal transformation of the team members.  As a team, they have broken down the mental barriers to success and embraced a new, slightly scarier, way of approaching things.  Here’s how I saw things play out:

  1. Boot Camp showed them how to stop dwelling on problems as a problem but rather systematically turn them into opportunities.
  2. Speaking directly to their customers, conversations not surveys, moved them from being sure they already knew everything there was to know about their business to being open to learning.
  3. Using experimentation to find out what was really going on, the root causes of the problems, shifted energy from caring about what the competition was doing to creating something new and valuable.
  4. Changing their approach from being certain to failing fast in order to move closer to the solution moved them from being risk adverse to taking calculated, purposeful ones.
  5. As they prototyped their ideas they changed from being victims of circumstance to fulfilling the vision of the business leader and taking responsibility for their role.
  6. In the end, frustrated people became grateful for the chance to change their own future.
As coaches, we have watched them transform from middle class to world class as defined in the following video:  http://play.simpletruths.com/movie/secrets-of-the-world-class/.

There are some innovative, world class, ideas that often get caught-up in strong, complicated, ‘the way we’ve always done things’ systems.  They will help move the organization closer to being world class itself.  The only question that remains is if the organization that needs to execute on these items will be able to break down larger barriers that are sure to appear.   I think the answer is YES and look forward to updating you in the near future on how I was right!

To the team, thank you for trusting we would not lead you astray.