Are you aware of the ‘Drag’ in your business?

Understanding the four principles that can affect the sustainable growth and inevitable success of your business

In my last blog, I talked about two themes that if you fully understood and took action on, would put you firmly into the winners camp.  Too much complexity and/or a poor culture within your organisation will result in, at best, working harder for not much return, or at worst, a failing business.  Balancing and harmonising the Performance Environment across the Commercial and Cultural elements within your business will create a business that is sustainable and successful.

Whilst discussing these challenges with business owners, they sometimes struggle to fully understand what this actually means for them. To them, everybody in their business has a job to do and they should just do it, and as for culture, to many it’s just psychobabble. When I challenge them as to whether they believe that the teams in their businesses are performing to the best of their ability, they invariably agree that they don’t but they aren’t sure of the reasons why.

“Do you believe that the teams in your business
are performing to the best of their ability?
How do you know?”

I hear a lot of business leaders talk about wanting to be ‘best–in-class’, ‘world class’ or some other aspirational ambition, which is then completely at odds with the counter-productive environment that they have created within their business. Businesses that become ‘the best’ in whatever context, but especially those that have continued success, don’t do so because of luck, they do so because an environment has been created to allow individuals and teams to perform at their best.

The challenge for businesses as they grow is to remember to be ahead of the game as far as complexity is concerned and to nurture the culture as new people join. The conundrum is that as your business grows and you and your people become busier, actively and conscientiously managing complexity and culture becomes harder. The more that I explore these challenges with business owners, the more they acknowledge the frustrations that this scenario creates. I refer to these as ‘drag’ factors within businesses and the ‘light bulb’ moment of recognition from business owners to that phrase, makes them understand it so much more clearly.

Using my experience from my previous career within the RAF, when I was flying for Queen and Country, I like to use one of the core fundamental models of aerodynamics to explain the challenge visually. The Principles of Flight model shows the four main forces that affect the ability of an aircraft to fly. To be able to get airborne, the aircraft needs to generate enough thrust to overcome its drag and create enough lift to overcomes its mass, thus enabling it to fly off the runway.

Applying these fundamentals to a business instead of an aircraft, Principles of Flight become Principles of Business, so for Mass, Drag, Lift and Thrust, think Size, Complexity, Commercial Awareness and Cultural Awareness.

The Principles of Business model shows the four main forces that affect the ability of a business to grow. To be able to grow, any business needs to ensure that there is enough commercial awareness to overcome its size and also needs to create the right cultural awareness to overcome its complexity and thereby enable it to grow efficiently.

Aircraft designers endeavour to make drag as low as possible so that the pilot has as much lift as they possibly can, and surely businesses should be doing the same. Even accountants want an aircraft that is aerodynamically efficient, as that equals cost savings.

So, whether you are preparing for growth, dealing with growth or consolidating your growth, you need to think about what you are doing to make the performance environment of your business as efficient and effective as you can.  Do you proactively think about the Drag and Lift within your business?

By balancing and harmonising the Performance Environment across the Commercial and Cultural elements of your business, you will create a business that is sustainable and successful, or to return to flying …

Do you want to fly higher and faster with less effort?

If you would like to learn more about how Wingman can help you with both the commercial and/or cultural sides of your business, please get in touch.