Stuck in the same old cycle?

Businesses love a new initiative that will have a positive impact on employees and lead to big results. But how many actually work?

Businesses love a big new initiative don’t they? They roll them out on a regular basis with a lot of pomp and excitement from the Leadership team about how this new way of working will have an amazing impact on everyone and lead to big results. Having had many of these schemes thrust upon me and having launched a fair few myself I have never seen one of them fully work and stick around for more than 18 months before they are replaced with the latest and greatest initiative and the cycle starts again. There is nothing more soul destroying than launching the next big thing and seeing your employees’ eyes rolling with that ‘here we go again, another new scheme which will die out after a few months’ look.

When you look at most of these initiatives they all have a similar goal of improving collaboration between people, teams and departments to ultimately increase business performance. But take a moment now and ask yourself honestly how many of these schemes have fully worked for you? Can anyone really answer ‘yes’? Think about the money and time spent on these initiatives for it then to not fully deliver the benefits promised. The simple reason many of them fizzle out is it is actually really hard to get right. But does it need to be hard?

My thoughts are racing ahead

Over the Christmas break I had what I think is a bit of personal revelation that I want to share with you.  For those that don’t know me, I love cycling and on most dark and miserable winter nights I can be found in my garage on my turbo trainer. For those of you that have a life and friends a turbo trainer is a device you sit your bike on and peddle on the spot, the turbo trainer has resistance built in to simulate hills and you can link it up to a tablet and ride around virtual worlds (It is all pretty sad I know). So over Christmas I entered a virtual race around a virtual version of London. In my lycra in my garage I logged onto my tablet eager to race and was joined by over 1600 other people from all over the world waiting for the green light to start. The green light came and what happened next was amazing.

Everyone set off at full pelt pretending they were Bradley Wiggins (Or that could just be me) and within about 1 min a hierarchy started to establish. The elite racers disappeared off into the distance like rockets whereas the rest of us ended up breaking into bunches of approximately 50 riders all with similar speed and performance. The bunch I ended up in had people from the UK, Germany, New Zealand, Russia, Korea and many other countries probably all sat in their garages on their bikes racing away with no way of communicating other than via virtual high fives and thumbs up. It was this next part that amazed me. Within 1 mile the bunch had organised itself in a group with people rotating at the front (where you have to pedal harder due to virtual wind resistance) and encouraging those at the back to keep up and push. Because of this the groups average speed was about 20% faster over the course than it would have been riding solo and due to the team work I completed the course faster than I have ever done before and set a personal record. I could not have done this on my own.

Breaking the Cycle

Apart from having really enjoyed the race this got me thinking. How is it that a group of people from all over the world who have never or will ever meet, with no real way to communicate could organise themselves into an effective team so quickly and effortlessly? Over a mince pie or 4 I talked to family and friends about this and they all said ‘you cant compare this to work as the goal of cycling is much simpler’. ‘Fair point’ I said. But the idea would not leave me and I kept thinking about it until I realised my friends were right. The mission of that cycling race was simple. Get from point A to B as quick as you can. Since the goal was simple everyone in the group understood it and because we understood it we were united and because we were united we all knew that the quickest way from A to B was by working together and taking turns at the front of the group.

What would happen if we spent the time and money we set aside for these initiatives into formulating one simple goal that your entire business understood, believed in and most importantly could visualise their role in it? I personally think you would have a cycle of change and improvement you have never seen before. What do you think? Am I right or should I get on my bike?

Written by Rick Norgate, Managing Director
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