Leadership Nugget - Bill Walsh - Concentrate on the Process
Concentrate on what will produce results rather than on the results, the process rather than the prize. – Bill Walsh
As Bill Walsh, American football player/coach/front office, knows in football success/results are defined by the outcome of a game or season. In a typical season, there are only 9-19 football games. If you see "results" only 9-19 times each year or better yet only once, a pass or fail metric based on a season record, you had better get it right!
With so few points for evaluation throughout the year, how do you know if you are getting it right?
To understand if you are getting it right, the inputs to success must be broken down into milestones/objectives and quantified via critical success factors along the path to the “prize”.
Drilling into the prize to identify the inputs can sometimes be difficult to see from the starting line. However as you begin to build out what success looks like, the steps to attain those inputs will become clear.
In the context of football, wins could be broken down into: great players, great coaches, great plays. These attributes are not mutually exclusive, for the sake of this example, nor are they collectively exhaustive.
Focusing on great players. Characteristics of great players include: big, strong, fast, smart.
To obtain these characteristics, there are several programs or training regiments which could be enacted.
Big: To obtain big players, you could hope for the ones you have to grow or recruit/sign larger players.
Strong: To build strong players, you could enact a training program building a muscular structure to assist in athletic performance.
And so on....
In the context of business, the prize is identified as return on shareholder value.
This prize could be broken down into great strategy, great execution, and great people. Similarly to the football example above, these attributes are not mutually exclusive, for the sake of this example, nor are they collectively exhaustive.
Great strategy could be characterized as the who, what, how, and why of an organization.
To obtain these characteristics several programs or explorations could be enacted.
Who : To improve “the who” of your business, you could actively seek out new customers to capture more value or explore ways to improve vendor relations/alignment to create more value for the organization.
How: To improve “the how” of your business, you could enact a program by which major initiatives are evaluated for alignment to the overarching business objectives.
And so on.
In summary, in business and in sports, your evaluation points for success or “the prize” can be few and far between. Don’t let yourself get surprised by the result, establishing ongoing success metrics and concentrate on the process. By doing this you will know what the outcome should be based on your adherence to working the plan.