Why Bell Curve Execution is damaging your business
You’re busy. Leading a fast growing business is real tough. I have done it myself and you are constantly faced with new challenges that you didn’t even knew could exist previously.
This peer to peer learning is great and long lasting, but it might not address some of your real challenges. As I work with management teams I continue to see the same problem surface time and time again. And it’s one I now realise I suffered from in my businesses.
I call it Bell Curve Execution and if it permeates your culture and your psyche it can prevent any efforts to grow your business from succeeding.
Bell Curve Execution has 3 main symptoms.
1. No clear direction
We don’t have a clear picture of what our business should and should not do in order to get to our BHAG*. This direction is not documented and people do not know what we are trying to achieve.
2. Initiatives don’t stick
We have undertaken a number of motivational speakers / courses / ideas in the past year or two. After a few weeks or months we go back to the ways things were before. Then a new speaker or initiative comes to town or comes across the leaders desk.
3. It’s not them, it’s us
The message from the speaker or initiative is good, but there is no catalyst to make it stick. We just seem to find it difficult to get these great ideas to work in our business. Maybe it’s because we are so busy.
Does this sound familiar? Read books, brought in experts, attended events and yet it just doesn’t seem to stick? Does that look a little like the graph below?
As a leader, when you behave like this it can be maddening for your team. In fact when you don’t focus on developing a simple set of goals to achieve, and executing them diligently following an initiative such as this, you are probably training your team to lay low until you get back to ‘normal’.
If that’s the case, perhaps this is what Bell Curve Execution looks like to your team.
If this sounds all too familiar, then the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem, and as Eli Goldratt described in his book ‘The Goal‘ it doesn’t matter what you do that’s right or wrong today, what really matter is that over a long period of time you consistently make small, positive improvements.
Perhaps Bell Curve Execution is fed by people and companies trying to change too much all at once.
So maybe the answer lies in focus. Focus on just one small thing at a time and get that right. Then only when you are confident the initiative has stuck, move to the next thing.
Of course persistence is paramount, but when you need to be persistent about only one area of improvement, it makes it all the much easier to succeed.
So next time you commence an initiative or attend a workshop, take a moment to understand what are all the take-aways from it, and then prioritise which offer the greatest value to overcome your rocks. Finally focus all your spare energy on getting the first priority item to stick. Then the next.
*BHAG is a registered Trademark of Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
Brad Giles works with CEO’s and management teams to develop and execute a winning strategy for their industry.