The Gold is in the Valleys

Originally published at jimcanterucci.com

A principle of The New Leadership Normal focuses on the cohesiveness of the organization and the activity in the boundaries between units. Pricing working with sales, working with marketing, working with manufacturing, working with purchasing, etc.

9 Units Strong

My friend, John Millen wrote about the philosophies used by Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer on the road to this past year’s National Championship. See John’s article.

Teamwork is crucial to success on the football field and for a business team as well. Coach Meyer breaks the Buckeyes down into 9 units. If each of these 9 units perform at a high level you get results like a national championship. There’s no arguing with success.

I like the smaller unit mindset. We like to say that things start to break down when you grow beyond the ability to go out to dinner with the leader. So, makes sense so far.

Between the Units

Can we squeeze more out of this idea? I believe the real value is between the units.

[A little football geekiness] Similar to football where the defense and special teams help the offense by controlling field position, one department can setup another for success.

In fact, in business the space between the units is even more critical. In football only 2 or 3 units are on the field at a time. This is not the case in business. We’re all playing all the time.

The gold is in the valleys — the connector space between units. This applies within a department and of course for the overall organization. When it’s seamless between sales support, and sales engineering customers notice. It is a huge differentiator. How about if one division creates a new approach and shares it with another division who can take it even further. These are value enhancements that don’t happen in every organization. How about yours? Can we increase the occurrence?

Leading in the boundaries

The main catalyst to mine the gold in the valleys is communication. The leader has the unique perch to see what each unit is doing, and most importantly what each unit is planning.

  • Listen — Everyone is into their own thing. They have their head down pushing to a goal. Listen for the boundary-crossing opportunities.
  • Question — Ask questions that explore the boundaries. Your question may tweak something just enough to apply to more than one unit.
  • Balance — A sense of pride in the unit is important but closely monitor the competitive aspects of goals and objectives. Remind that the purpose is the overall.
  • Analyze — Both successes and failures. It’s just as valuable to avoid repeating mistakes.

Mine the gold in the valleys of your organization. Create value and enhance the organization by taking advantage of the connections between your 9 strong units.

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