Playing To Win

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A number of years ago I was working with an organisation and we used to play a fair bit of recreational volleyball. I had a  super competitive work colleague and one day he asked the question of the opposing team, “if you are not playing to win then why are you scoring?” That got me thinking. We do that a lot in social sport. Take tennis for example. Even in a social game, you warm up by hitting a few balls to each other then you start scoring. At the end of the day it is only the competitive ones who really care about the score.

I think we do a lot of this in business. When you think about it, we take the score for no real reason at all. What do I mean by taking the score? As an illustration, let’s take the two big ticket items at the foundational level of today’s workplace/business management systems – quality and safety. Ever increasing numbers of businesses and organisations are spending time and money on quality and safety management systems that have no real relation to the outcomes of quality and safety on the ‘shop floor’. We are all familiar with the old ‘tick and flick’ approach. Getting the accepted ‘score’ so we can please whoever is writing out the cheque and stay in business. But if we do that, aren’t we back on the social volleyball or tennis courts getting belted around by the competitive ones? Is this truly a sustainable situation? What happens if a competitor comes along who is ‘playing to win’ and exposes your failings?

We only have to have an honest look around us to see the world is changing on all fronts at an ever increasing and maybe for some a scary rate. Couple that with the ever decreasing margins and it is inevitable that necessity will force businesses to be serious about scoring because they finally realize they have to play to win to stay in the game.

The best adventure I have going at the moment is with a client who knows and understands that with HCC’s consultancy his company can not only play to win but actually come out on top. A rare position to be in these days don’t you think?

Steve Greentree
High Calibre Consultancy Managing Director