Today, we’re going to talk about annual and quarterly motivational themes, and how effective that could be to drive better results in your company – and make morale, and enjoyment of your team improve at the same time.

Video Transcription

The whole question here, first of all, you have to be sure on is: What is your #1 priority for the year?”

The problem with most companies is that they have four, seven, 28 priorities, and that’s real tough. To nail down – and get down – to your #1 priority, is the place to start. And once you know that, you can engage the rest of the company in this.

You see on the screen, there’re all kinds of things – if you were to ask different people in a company – what could be the priority: it could be the clown, it could be the monkey, it could be the bicycle wheel, the balloon – all kinds of stuff could be your priority.

And as a team, what you want to do is zoom in on the three or four things that actually make the biggest difference in the company. The unfortunate part is, usually, they’re not quite as exciting as the colorful things you’ll see – but they’re important, and they will add the most value. And then the key is to zoom in on them, and forget the rest. Then absolute mastery is to pick that one that I mentioned earlier, really zoom in, and then get people aligned to that one thing.

If you talk to Jack Stack in his book “Great Game of Business,” or in the Rockefeller Habits methodology, there’s a concept of the critical number – and knowing that one number that will indicate you’ve improved in that most important area: A KPI – or something you can measure on a weekly basis – that actually proves the improvement.

The idea is you want to set different levels of success. Lots of people use red, yellow, or green levels of achievement, to say, “This is the minimum, this is what we’d like to achieve, and this is absolutely crushing the goal.”

Patrick Thean, in his book, “Execution Without the Drama”, talks about something called “Super Green”, which is exceeding the expectation. In those situations, you should have an extra special award, or reward, because you did something more than expected.

The point is to know your number, and set the goals you’re aiming for (in terms of improvement). And then you want to have two or three, what we call in Rockefeller Habits ‘rocks’ that drive that critical number, that help actually make the improvement you want.

In a company, you might have one – or maybe two – other goals (or rocks), which would help to improve the company that year – the door to actually help drive that number, but they’re just important stuff that’s got to happen.

And then the challenge is to keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing here, really, is that critical number, and making sure we don’t lose focus of it.

We easily get distracted, and start focusing on other interesting, or shiny, or urgent things, and lose track on that #1 priority, and that’s why you have this thing called a motivational theme.

That’s where you take that number, and make sure people are continually focused on it. We want to take it from the leadership team all the way to the front lines, because that’s where the work happens. One company I work with, with over 3,000 people – and when everyone in the front lines understands that #1 number, magic happens. The improvement you can make is unbelievable.

Your Critical Number

There’re a few examples of critical numbers that I’ve seen work really, really well.

The third one there is called “Route 66”, and that’s a company that took their cash conversion cycle – or how much money it took to operate the company – and from three month’s working capital, down to two months, or 66 days.

Why do we pick Route 66? Well, it’s fun, and we can have a lot of fun reinforcing that in the company. But what that means, in their case, is they collected their receivables a lot faster, and also got the invoices out quicker.

Another one here – “57 New Friends” – is from a company whose most important objective was to get 57 new clients. Everybody in the company knew about it, and they all helped. This is a business-to-business environment, so that one made sense.

Next we have one called “Gone in 30 Minutes”. It’s a company that realized they wasted a ton of time in long, useless meetings, and they wanted to have every meeting completed in 30 minutes. There were a couple of meetings which were exceptions, but that was the goal of the company: to get mastery with meetings.

And then is a company in Ireland, that did the “Bin It” theme. The idea was to eliminate 845 wasteful actions. And what they did. The company is called City Bin, and CEO Gene Browne is a brilliant guy.

They realized that there’s a lot of waste in a company, but eliminating waste is hard to do – so they made it simple. They said every person’s job was, once every week – 13 weeks in the quarter – to come up with 13 ideas, that would either eliminate 15 minutes of wasted time in somebody’s week, or 15 euros in someone’s week. So, with either time or money eliminated out of someone’s regular routine, that compounded to be 845 ideas. It was  incredibly, incredibly helpful.

Another company in Canada did a similar one called “CCT 360”. They came up with 360 ideas. Same concept to strip out waste.

The point is to rally everyone around one number that has a huge impact across the business. We’re all incredibly busy with all the stuff that happens in our business, in our day, and if we don’t carve out time to work on these high priority projects – it seems to be that the best time is first thing in the morning, otherwise, you’re gonna be doing it at home in the evening – these things don’t make progress, and we don’t move the company ahead as we’d like to.

What is your #1 priority for your company?

And second: How can you get everyone in your company involved in helping to move that priority ahead?

I wish you well. Have a great day.