Want Better Performance? Ask Better Questions

better performanceTo gain better performance we need to look at the genius that was Albert Einstein. He said if you keep doing the same thing, you’ll get the same results. Yet so often when we are stuck, we simply believe what we’ve been doing simply requires more effort. But why? Because we are so focussed on trying to get “it” right.

Lift yourself away from the coal face. Instead of getting stuck in an endless loop, ask yourself different questions…

1. Are we doing it right?

Many of us are very focussed on getting it right. The manufacturing process needs to be lean, the proposal needs to be out the door, the forms need to be filled in in the right way… Here the focus is on systems and processes – a big part of strong management.

Take the example of a sock manufacturer – competitors are releasing ever cheaper socks – ultimately by reducing the yarn count. In order to stay in business the sock manufacturer focusses on getting the production of sock as cheaply as possible. A classic case of “getting it right”. But there is a problem, competing on cost along is difficult as there will always be someone who can do it cheaper. So we need to change the rules…

2. Are we doing the right thing?

This is the type of question that can stop people in their tracks. Safety seeking individuals may panic – for they will perceive the question as a threat. Answering the question risks changing the modus operandi. Yet good leaders and managers will ask this question, and be open to explore the answers.

For the sock manufacturer, there was unease at the resulting quality of socks to be competitive. It meant customers socks were thin, didn’t keep their feet warm and were easily holed. The result was disaffected customers, and unmotivated staff and a sales force trying to compete on price alone. The company knew they were producing an inferior product. So management asked “are we doing the right thing”?  The answer was no, we aren’t – but what do we do about it? Which leads onto the next question…

3. How do we decide what’s right?

Now the question has moved to a deeper strategic one. The answer requires exploration, reflection and debate. How does a company decide what is right? Ethics, sustainability, client requirements, culture and more have a big part to play in the answer. But, when all said and done, the answer lies in the values, beliefs and culture of the business.

For Drew Brady & Co, the manufacturer of socks, their values were to create good quality products which customers would enjoy wearing. After significant internal exploration, reflection and debate, they created the warmest sock in the world. It’s called the Heat Holder™. It’s a premium sock and is the first sock to have a tog rating. Needless to say it is outselling all predictions.

Better Performance Summary

What seems like the only course of action pales into insignificance when we ask the right questions. New vistas open up. Better alternative options present themselves. So three questions, which one are you or your business working on? Am we getting it right? Am we doing the right thing? How do we decide what is right?

If you find yourself stuck, but want to break out and experience optimal performance – call us. We are experts at providing you with welcome insight which will enable you to tackle the big issues and forge a way ahead which is in line with your personal and organisational goals. Email us here, or contact us here, or call us on 01332 42 21 21.

Note: Heat Holders is a registered trademark of Drew Brady & Co. Ltd, which is part of the Ruia Group of companies. For the full story see here.

(c) Welcome Insight 2013. Author: Mark Bateman 3/12/2012, updated 12th June 2013