Watch your business game films

Watch your biz game filmsEver seen a diagram of a football play? Players are represented by X’s and O’s, and their movements and responsibilities are specifically and carefully detailed — block this guy, run this direction, throw the ball there. When everyone executes, the play is successful. Run enough successful plays and you win the game. Win enough games and you have a successful season.

I work with business leadership teams to help them implement an amazing set of EOS tools, and last week we got a team together for a regular quarterly planning session. We begin each of these sessions by reviewing the last quarter and evaluating how we did in accomplishing what we call “Rocks”. These Rocks are what the team identified at the prior quarterly session as the most important things that absolutely, positively had to get accomplished in the coming 90 days for the team to be on track to achieve its long-term and short-term plans.

Think of Rocks, then, as the plays that the team decided to run in the coming quarter so they can win an upcoming game.

Although it might seem harsh, Rock review is as binary as it gets. A Rock either gets 100% “done” or it is simply “not done”. After we get an update on every Rock we calculate the completion ratio and evaluate how we did as a team relative to those quarterly Rocks. We’d like to achieve all them, but in reality we’re happy with an 80% completion ratio.

Calculate your completion rate

From a high-level perspective the company had completed a fabulous quarter. Revenue and opportunities had soared over projected amounts, new roles had been created to accommodate exciting growth and profits were at record levels. After walking through the Rock review, though, we determined that we had completed only 66% of the Rocks. That was below our goal, and there was a palpable sense of disappointment in the room.

In football terms they had “won” the quarter, but were disappointed because every play did not turn out exactly as they had hoped. They were confusing a “not done” Rock with an overall bad outcome.

“Look,” I said, “the day after a great win, a football team is still going to sit down and watch game film. They’re going to watch every play over and over, see what they could have done better, capture lessons learned and use that knowledge to do better next time. We’re just watching the film. It was great to win, but tomorrow we want to be better.”

Evaluate your performance and learn from your mistakes

Even in big wins mistakes get made. Blocking assignments are missed, handoffs are fumbled, tackles are shaken. Reviewing the film allows the team to review what happened outside the heat of the moment, learn from their mistakes, and ultimately do better next time. There’s plenty to learn from watching film, even when you win big.

That’s exactly the perspective you should have when you look back on your prior quarters and the status of your key initiatives. Will your team ever be perfect? Probably not. No matter how good the results you achieve there will always be areas to learn and improve. But that doesn’t mean you failed. It simply means that next time you can win even bigger if you identify and learn from past performance.

Religiously set and review quarterly Rocks in your business. Then watch your game film by rigorously evaluating your performance against them. You can celebrate big wins and still embrace with enthusiasm the eternal opportunity for ongoing improvement.

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