Discipline makes Daring possible.

Working to a pattern

Working to a pattern

It’s hard to imagine making any garment successfully without having a pattern to work to and a picture of what the finished product should look like.

Yet we expect our teams to do exactly that every day.

With predictably ill-fitting results.

For the want of a nail

For the want of a nail

We like to blame disasters on the failure of equipment – the horseshoe nail, the cladding, the electrical wiring.   Or we like to blame people – the farrier, the cladding manufacturer, the maintenance department.

But neither of those things are really to blame when things go disastrously wrong.   It’s the processes that have failed, and often much further back than the site of the problem.    The rider didn’t check his horse’s shoes (or maybe the farrier ran out?), the specifier chose inappropriate cladding (or maybe the budget was too low?), management reduced the capacity of the maintenance department (or maybe the maintenance team had caught coronavirus?).

It’s what we do – the processes we run – that delivers results, good or bad.  If we want to minimise the bad and maximise the good, we all need to see them clearly and take responsibility for keeping the whole in good working order.

Who are you aiming at?

Who are you aiming at?

One of the best things you can do to make your business work better is to decide who you are for.   It’s also one of the hardest.

When we start a business, the need to bring money in means we put off even thinking about this, and because it’s hard, we perhaps never get to think about it.

That’s a mistake.  Even when you offer a universal product or service, you are not for everyone.   One because you can’t possibly reach everyone, two because you have your own unique way of doing things that won’t appeal to everyone.

So it’s a good idea to think about who you are for as early as possible.  How do you do that?

Well, start by thinking about who you are.   What makes you tick?  What are your personal values?  How do you like to behave?  What’s your watchword?  The people you will enjoy working with, and who will be attracted to work with you are the people who share your values, behaviours and the things that make you tick.

Next think about what kind of people you want to work with.   By this I don’t mean what shape or colour or age, I mean character.  If that’s too hard, think about who you never want to work with – flipping these negatives tells you something about the positives.

Capturing this information about yourself and the people you wish to serve, tells you what kind of people you want to work with, it tells you how you can talk to them in their language, and how they might want to be served.

Next, get clear about what you are really offering.    What’s the transformation people are able to make once they’ve bought from you?

Finally, identify where you are most likely to come across the kind of people you want to work with, who are also looking for the transformation you can offer them.   This is where you look at things like age, location, industry, income.   Is there a particular group of people in need of what you offer?   Can you easily identify this group?   Is it big enough?  Can you easily find them?   How can they find you?

This becomes your target market.   And once you know what it is, its much easier to take aim.  And that makes it more likely you’ll make a hit.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy

By convention, everyone inside a business tracks the boss.   Orders come down from on high, performance data is sent back up the line to the top.  Orders are adjusted and sent back down again.   New performance data is sent back up the line.   And so on.

Who does the boss track?   In a public company, it’s often the share price.   The opinion of the financial markets, of potential traders in those shares – not investors, they rarely hold shares long enough to be truly investors.

What if everyone in the business tracked the people they serve instead?

They’d be powered by a completely renewable energy that’s also sustainable and efficient.

Customer experience, service delivery

Customer experience, service delivery

Like many large organisations, the NHS has a Director of Customer Experience.

As if Customer Experience is somehow separate from Service Delivery.  As if they aren’t two sides of the same coin.

Now, I might be wrong, but this feels like a bit of a bolt-on.  Like the customer might actually the last person to be thought of in the whole mechanism.

In any business, what the customer experiences is your Service Delivery.   Design that intentionally around what will truly serve and delight your customer.   Then make sure it happens consistently and you can’t go far wrong.

That way you won’t need an expensive Director to convince people you are doing it.

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction

I’ve never seen Anthropologie, the retail chain, advertise.  They don’t waste their time, money or energy putting themselves in front of people who aren’t interested in what they have to offer.

Instead they have identified very clearly who it is they want to attract into their stores, then created stores that are magnetic to that kind of person.   You either walk past an Anthropologie store, or you walk in.  And if you walk in, it’s very likely that you’ll buy something.

It goes even deeper though.   Anthropologie’s promise is to send their clients out of the store looking and feeling fabulous.  And they are prepared to forego short-term sales to achieve this.

When I was at business school we were told the story of one store that sacked their ‘best’ salesperson.   The salesperson was great at selling, but at the expense of sending the customer home with clothing that didn’t make them look and feel great.

For the people Anthropologie serves, Anthropologie’s aim is become part of who they are.  Nothing less will do.  They wait patiently for the right people to find them, then keep their promise to them religiously.  The result is a growing community of enthusiasts.

That’s not magic, that’s dedication.

A productivity problem

A productivity problem

This week, my husband took his father on a 90-mile round trip to see a consultant, only to be told “We don’t do that here.”


For the same reason a jury of 12 people can hang around for days waiting for a case, only to file into a courtroom and be told “We can’t try this case now.”

Because the process has been designed around the wrong role.

No wonder we have a productivity problem.

The Status Quo

The Status Quo

We like to stick with the status quo, believing that if we do nothing, nothing will change.

But in a complex evolving system things are always changing.  All we can do is try and shape those changes.  To make possible new status quos that are better than the one we have now – and now – and now.

This is an almost impossible task.  But not to be given up.

Because if we don’t choose the shape of the next possible status quo, someone else will do it for us.

Or against us.

“What comes to pass does so not so much because a few people want it to happen, as because the mass of citizens abdicate their responsibility and let things be.” ~ Antonio Gramsci

Measuring doughnuts

Measuring doughnuts

In an earlier post, I asked why it’s deemed important to report on the FTSE 100 index at every news on the radio, and what relevance that index has for most ordinary people.

There are alternative things to measure, that matter more to most people, and I think Kate Raworth’s doughnut pretty much captures them all.

What if instead of the FTSE, we had a daily snapshot of our impact as a nation on overshooting the ecological ceiling, or undershooting the social foundation?   What if we could see every day how well we are doing at keeping within “the safe and just space for humanity”.

Like the FTSE and other indices, this snapshot would be made up of data from millions of enterprises large and small across the country, and that means that each enterprise would need to measure it’s own impact too.

That’s completely doable, if we set our mind to it, with the help and support of our accountants.

Why wait?  Let’s start now.