No MBA mumbo-jumbo, just stuff that's worked through 30 years of team-building in business and the military.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Not Preparing to Succeed is Preparing to Fail

I once heard Urban Meyer, a fantastically successful football coach, say something that has stuck with me. He said, “I have yet to be in a game where the most prepared team didn’t win.”

That statement challenges me, because I readily fall into the trap that most leaders do: I work my team, I don’t prepare it. I think that the best use of today’s time is to do today’s work. I don’t like to pull them away from productive tasks to train them.

When we prepare our teams, we usually do it for disasters or audits. We practice fire drills and emergency response actions, we brush up paperwork. How much resource do we allocate to getting our co-workers ready to exploit success, to innovate instead of react to change?

Preparation requires anticipation. What will my team need to do in the future? What skills will keep us effective as customer needs change? How can I get them ready for hard times?

Here’s my challenge: Find out what your organization’s near-term and long-term goals are. Then evaluate what capabilities your team will need to meet those goals, and to do business once they’re met. A simple gap analysis will show you where you need to start preparing them now.

Then boil it down to concrete skills. For example, if the goal is to support twice the sales volume through your warehouse, team members will need velocity and flow management techniques.

If Urban Meyer is right, not preparing to succeed is just preparing to fail.

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