Why does your company win orders, employees, competitions? While most are simply happy that things worked out, I challenge you to systematically get to the bottom of these successes - beyond Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.
We all know it: No sooner have we decided on a product in the online store than other products are suggested to us that might also interest us. Or we are informed that other shoppers have also bought the following products. Whether we react to this or not, the artificial intelligence (AI) behind it learns from our behavior. To do this, it needs a vast amount of data and enormous computing power.
Are you selling the planning of a globally unique underground conveyor system? Or security analyses of global IT systems? Then you usually cannot afford such a trial&error, neither financially nor because of the capacities required for it (see #attitude Nr 2 - First Time Right). This is just as true for a law firm or a branding agency as it is for an architecture firm or specialists in laboratory safety. You’re probably now thinking about the importance of good relationships and a broad network. There’s nothing wrong with that - but is the inference from success to relationships really systematic? Very few companies can maintain relationships when employees leave. Therefore, you should - indeed, you must - help employees learn from their successes and understand why they enter.
Successes are the start and not the goal
Of course, we are all happy about successes. Many understandably see it as the fruit of their efforts, the reward for their commitment. Unfortunately, this reward is like praise - it creates dependencies and thus vertical rather than horizontal relationships.
- On praise: see #attitude #12: Stop praising!
- On relationships: see #attitude #8: Build meaningful relationships
If you try to see success not as a goal, but as a start, you will approach success differently. Even if this sounds weird: See success as your biggest problem and try to get to the root of this problem together with your employees. In doing so, you will use the already almost genetically programmed search for errors, risks or deficits for a far more productive approach: the ideas for solving problems are, in turn, precisely those topics that you and your teams should keep a special eye on in order to systematically ensure success.
Example: In workshops, specific topics are worked on in a quasi-extraordinary way. With more or less concrete proposals and measures, the findings from the workshop are then to be implemented in everyday life. However, they often lose the attention competition against the daily, pressing and urgent, operational challenges. That is why I like to ask the following question at the end:
“What needs to happen so that nothing happens? “
So: convene meeting and explore the question of why their bid didn’t get eliminated and what would need to be done in the future to ensure the (professionally crafted) bid gets eliminated. And then turn those findings into their opposite and have found your key points critical to success.
This simple exercise has a deeper meaning and effect: companies only develop when employees develop as well. Success is ultimately nothing more than the sum of many small and micro successes of employees. These often get lost in the daily hustle and bustle or are not recognized as such. This means that they cannot be promoted in a targeted manner, even though this would be in the original interest of the company. By making sure that people learn from successes, you and other managers in the company consolidate them and make them replicable. In this way, you raise the level of what can be achieved in the company - potential development in real time. Set an upward spiral in motion together with and within your teams. In this way, you multiply successes, meet them systematically and find ways to open up further opportunities or new potentials from them.
The problem with “error culture”.
More and more companies emphasize that they maintain an open error culture. They want employees to talk about mistakes without fear. So that the organization as a whole learns faster, becomes more agile. The bon mot “fail fast, learn fast” cultivated in startup circles may seem appealing, plausible and indeed facilitating. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the necessary details remain open. For example, I hear from customers that employees tend to associate error culture with non-commitment (“it doesn’t really matter if it works…”), rather than a systematic process whose outcome actually leads to useful insights and noticeable changes. I now consider the hype about errors in favor of speed and the ability of a system to learn to be similarly useless as its brother, the hype about transparency. That’s because they promote expectations that can never be met - at least until they are spelled out clearly and contextually.
It’s different with successes. Successes are more fun than mistakes and trigger far more positive emotions. It therefore seems appropriate to me to learn from successes as well. After all, there are usually many small ventures behind them, small deviations from the conventional that employees dare to make on their own. Successes show them that their commitment has paid off - and that it will probably continue to pay off to take these small risks. So consistently ask them to talk about it. Not only does it make them proud, it allows others to learn from them. That’s how the courage for small ventures transfers to others.