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Step Seven: Enhance Your People's Ability to Achieve the Benefits of Irresistible Force Management

Apr 9, 2008
"You bet on people, not on strategies." -Larry Bossidy

Recognize the importance of teamwork in achieving your goal: To always get the best results from irresistible forces, regardless of their direction.

Imagination in design and implementation can allow us to experience favorable irresistible force effects, even when their winds come from a variety of directions. Sailboats are a case in point.

Although a sailboat's design is not as effective as the pivoting windmill, the current sailboat designs are a substantial advance over the earliest sailing vessels in providing substantial flexibility. For a sailboat can move forward with the wind coming from virtually any direction except for a few degrees of directly head on. For those circumstances, a motor is a handy adjunct to create perfect flexibility.

Yet to take full advantage of the winds, you need to understand how they affect you. Common sense suggests that a sailboat can travel faster with a wind that pushes the boat in the direction the captain wants to go, rather than with head or side winds.

But common sense is wrong in this case as it often is with irresistible forces. For unlike airplanes, most sailboats actually go fastest with a side wind.

With a wind coming from behind the boat's stern, the back sail inevitably diverts some of the wind from the front sail. With a side wind from either direction, the captain can set a course with the sails angled so that all of the sails' area is used to its fullest potential.

This is a substantial advantage for sailors because winds are coming from the side (there being two sides) much more often than they come from behind. Yet all of this potential adaptability is of little use if the captain and crew do not employ it well by making timely adjustments to turn the side winds into a favorable irresistible force.

You too can keep your enterprise beneficially aligned with irresistible forces if you execute your new direction properly. Companies operate more like sailboats than pivoting windmills, because businesses require continuing cooperation among lots of people to make best use of irresistible forces.

For a sailboat, the best results come from having an effective captain and crew. The captain reads the waves to spot shifts in the wind so that the course and sails are set optimally.

The crew must get the job done by working in quick, careful coordination. All hands must be alert and the crew in great physical shape.

Most importantly, the crew must cooperate in a timely way with one another when the order comes to make a change in the sails. This teamwork takes time to develop.

As the crew practices, it gets better at doing things right the first time, and in less time. As the captain better understands what the crew can do, she or he can do a better job of timing orders to take best advantage of the shifting wind. Also, the captain and the crew will develop ways of sharing information about the upcoming wind that improve anticipation.

The same is true for your company as it seeks to get the most benefit from irresistible forces, but with one difference. Where the ship's captain must be an effective dictator, your enterprise needs continuing help from everyone.

Each person can help you spot shifts in the irresistible forces and design effective ways to adapt to them. Obviously, then, the need for coordination and cooperation is much more critical than on even the most smoothly sailing ship because there is so much more to be done.

However, when it comes to working with irresistible forces, many companies might as well be in dry dock. Their captains are wearing blinders and are hard of hearing, and so have little sense of the future shifts in the irresistible force winds. Some of the positions in the crew have no one in them, and so some key tasks aren't getting done.

Coordination and cooperation are at a low level, so errors and slow progress occur when an order does come. The crews are timid about telling the captains what they need to know in order to choose the right course with the proper sails.

Each person gets most of her or his annual compensation for maximizing individual personal performance, even when the firm's boat will go slower, as a result. In such situations, getting people to understand about using irresistible forces is only the beginning. You have many more things to do before you will capture the irresistible force benefits of having continuing favorable wind conditions for your organizational boat.

If you want to see team poetry in action, watch an on-board video of an America's Cup-winning yacht competing in shifting winds. That is what your enterprise needs to look like if you are to get the most benefit from irresistible forces. You need to create a championship irresistible-force-pursuing team by adding people, capability, and incentives to create the perpetual fair wind.
About the Author
Donald Mitchell is an author of seven books including Adventures of an Optimist, The 2,000 Percent Squared Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution, The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook, The Irresistible Growth Enterprise, and The Ultimate Competitive Advantage. Read about creating breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and receive tips by e-mail by registering for free at

http://www.2000percentsolution.com .
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