Pressurize the System

Everyone knows it’s important to stay hydrated when you exercise. What most people don’t understand, but endurance athletes fear, is overhydration or Hyponatremia. Here is the layman’s description: Hyponatremia occurs when excess fluid washes too much sodium from your body, causing your blood pressure to fall to dangerously low levels. When your blood pressure becomes too low, nothing works. Valves don’t open, nutrition doesn’t penetrate cell walls, and oxygen doesn’t move through your body. Dehydration is unpleasant; overhydration, and the resultant drop in blood pressure, is deadly.

Your business also needs the right amount of pressure to run well. A business without pressure doesn’t get anything done: decisions don’t get made, bad employees aren’t dealt with, and opportunities are missed. Left unchecked, that malaise leads to the death of the business.

So how do you create the right amount of pressure – enough to promote a rapid flow of decisions and actions, but not so much that your team burns out? Focus on these three things:

  1. A Clear Growth Objective. Repeat after me: “growth is good; without growth my business will die”. This usually means growing revenue and profit, but it doesn’t have to. If you don’t want to get bigger, find another growth area. Increase your gross profit on a percentage basis; grow revenue in your target market while reducing it in non-target areas; grow efficiency, so you make more money on the same revenue. Find the growth objective that works for you, and make sure it’s crystal clear, because that’s what pulls your team forward.
  2. Operating Discipline. As the growth objective pulls the team, the operating discipline pushes the team. This is the combination of structure, accountability, process, meeting cadence, and data that come together to make sure you achieve your growth objective.
  3. Team Health. Numbers 1 and 2 above will create pressure, but if that’s all you do, you better move fast, because an explosion is coming. For sustained performance, you must build team health. It’s what allows your team members to say, “I need help” or “I messed up” or “I think we’re on the wrong track”. Team health is the safety valve that makes sure you don’t over-pressurize your business, and have it blow up on you. (This happened to me once. The business didn’t actually explode, but I did have my whole customer service team walk out on me as I was speaking in a company meeting. They returned after 4 hours of margheritas to tell me how they really felt about me and the environment I had created.)

A clear growth objective, operating discipline, and team health – to be your best for the long run, you must have all three. When we implement EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, we build them into your business (we call them Vision, Traction, and Healthy), but if you’re not ready for EOS, take these three simple steps:

  1. Set your 2019 growth objective – I suggest revenue, gross profit, or net income – and make it crystal clear and known to everyone in your business.
  2. Build a scorecard to measure your progress towards your growth objective, and make sure someone is accountable for each metric
  3. Read The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and do one exercise from the book with your team.

Three simple steps. Just get started – you can worry about the next steps after you get rolling.