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If there is no pot, don’t expect the gold

If there is no pot, don’t expect the gold

I am out in the sticks (700km from the city) consulting to a mining company. It’s always a slog to fly out to the middle of nowhere, but the rewards of dealing with a high performing client overshadow those thoughts.

I facilitated a strategic review yesterday to look at how our 3-year plan had panned out and I was absolutely astonished to see the results, to say the least. Strategic plans notoriously fail because of a lack of execution, but this company knows how to execute.

Last night I was thinking about what the reasons are for this company to see the results they have from a strategy that was planned 3 years ago. Here’s the scoreboard: They have grown in staff from 40 to 180 with annual revenue growth of 100% year on year. They have expanded their fleet from 5 to 30 vehicles and have added 60 yellow machines to their asset base. An exemplary performance by any standard. Their goal is to reach $100 million in 5 years.

But why could they achieve this?

As a result of dealing with many clients in various sectors of the market, I have come to believe that business is about time and chance. In other words, there is a breakthrough point for all businesses, a tipping point (Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book from the other side of this perspective) where the business is positioned in the right place with the right competencies, at the right time.

Because I develop a trust relationship with my clients over the multi-year interventions I do, I always get them to admit that besides the hard work and natural entrepreneurial ability, there was the element of luck. Always. It’s not the type of answer you would get from them in the local bar. No, there you will hear of their exceptional financial ability, their unmatched vision, their immense courage and bravery, their x-ray vision, their vast knowledge and their resolve to do what no other man would do. But it is never the entire truth.

So if luck plays a significant role and breakthrough is a point in time, what do we do as business owners to enable this breakthrough? Can we create luck? Gary Player famously said, “the harder I work, the luckier I get”. It’s the truth and I have seen it happen to most of my clients, but the hard work is a broad term for the elements involved to create luck.

Hard work means working hard at something, but what is that something? How do I decide what to work on?

Yesterday I talked about process in my previous blog (you can read it here)and process is a really good concept, but which process and how many of my processes create the luck?

I have compiled this list of drivers of luck in this company over the past 3 years. It’s by no means the 10 steps to success, but I think it will help you, as a business owner or manager, to see how you measure up against a well-performing business that made luck happen.

Here is the list:

  1. Get a bunch of like-minded, intelligent people (pause here) together and make a big plan. (This includes a strategy and a strong operational plan)
  2. Decide to doggedly pursue the goals that were set, no matter what it takes (long hours, disappointment, failures, and misses).
  3. Fight about stuff (stop just before it gets physical), but always use the fight as an opportunity to grow personally. Find the common ground and work hard in those areas.
  4. Employ knowledgable people and build teams that are capable rather than indispensable “hero” employees. Never allow any part of the business to rely on one person.
  5. Build processes and control (they use our time and attendance products to foster a culture of discipline) and stop managing characters. Creativity without control is chaos (read my eBook about this)
  6. Inspire every individual in the group to become more. If everyone becomes more, your company becomes more.
  7. Allow accountability in your life. Tell trusted partners what your goals are and have them hold you accountable.
  8. Never shun ideas that are outside of your comfort zone. Investigate and interrogate them without any other agenda but to find the truth in them.
  9. Forget about yourself and your position and build the organisation for the greater good of everyone.
  10. Never forget that you’re working with people and if you do the best for people (customers, supplier, community and staff) you will attract success.

The idea is to position yourself for the breakthrough. If there is no pot, don’t expect the gold. You need to build the pot.

I am so inspired by this client and I am heading back to my team to talk to them about every one of these items.

I hope you do too.

And I hope you get lucky soon.

Kevin

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