To really excel and beat the competition, it requires more than a spark of inspiration and talent. It requires focused effort. The sporting world has shown that, and we’ve all been reminded of it hearing the personal stories of the medalists in the recent Olympic games.
Better practice = better performance
Coaching and training techniques have been refined and improved, which is part of the reason we’ve seen World and Olympic records shattered. And while advanced and novel training techniques are not limited to sports, they do have one common theme: they all make the activity more difficult than it is really is. Let me give you a couple of examples:
Football: one of the reasons that Brazilian footballers are so good, is not just natural talent or the poor economic conditions, but they all play futsal. It is played with a smaller, heavier ball and a smaller pitch. The maths tells the story. Futsal players touch the ball far more often than soccer players – six times more often per minute. The smaller, heavier ball demands and rewards more precise ball control. “No time plus no space equals better skills.”
Table tennis: multi-ball coaching techniques brought in by the Chinese. Simply put, multi-ball is the training technique that has coach use a number of balls to set up a training drill for the practicing player. Most players think of multi-ball almost as a torture technique, where the trainee is reduced to a small puddle of sweat as the feeder keeps him constantly moving all over the table chasing the ball and gasping for breath. And while using multi-ball to build fitness is one aspect of the technique, there are several other benefits: technique, footwork, decision making and psychological strength.
Better business practice
In business we do not “practice.” Every day we go to work we are “in the game,” rarely with a coach, a game plan or any time to reflect on our performance.
But business is not a zero-sum game. In sports, to win, your opponent needs to lose. In business, that is not the case. If an individual can raise their game, it can be replicated by other team members. The collective performance gains can be huge. So why are proven techniques from sports not used in business?
As one business expert put it, “Very few businesses have put the principles of ‘purposeful practice’ into the workplace. Sure, the hours may be long in some jobs, but the tasks are often repetitive and boring and fail to push employees to their creative limits beyond. There is little coaching and objective feedback is virtually non-existent, often compromising little more than a half-hearted annual review.”
BPM= Business Practice Management?
Some businesses are starting to take management of business activities seriously. It is being called Business Process Management (BPM). But it is pretty patchy across companies, with some exceptions. Companies like Nestle take process very seriously and, consequently, are some of the most successful on the planet. But there is a critical role that clearly documented and managed businesses gives you – a basis for feedback.
Feedback is rocket fuel
In the words of a sports coach, “If you don’t know what you are doing wrong, you can never know what you are doing right.”
BPM allows companies to define a baseline against which improvements can be measured. Without a clear definition of process, it is impossible to work out why something has gone wrong. There is too much “noise.” Quite often sports have feedback built in. Play a bad shot and and you are in a bunker or out of bounds. But business often has a longer feedback cycle, so it is difficult or impossible to link action to result. BPM helps make the link clearer and removes the noise.
Raising the game
But there are other ways that businesses can make sure that they are at the top of their game. While it might be easier to pick a market with weak competitors and forgiving customers, that does you no good in the longer term. You only have to look at the defense industry, which got fat on Cost-Plus Government contracts. As those contracts dried up and they had to compete for commercial work, they found they were hopelessly uncompetitive. Many simply went out of business, taking their small suppliers down with them.
Our alternative approach when we set up Nimbus was to compete in the toughest market with the most demanding customers. That was the food and pharma market. Regulated by the FDA, these companies are tough to satisfy; they want to see proven results before the purchase, they drive hard price negotiation, and they conduct quarterly company audits. But once you have established yourself as a credible supplier, there is a huge barrier to entry for your competitors.
Pick the toughest markets
Likewise with LessAdmin.com, we are looking to satisfy the most complex projects: large numbers of invited individuals, huge numbers of posts and photos, with complex sharing with multiple businesses and their subcontractors and their subcontractors.
“Pick the toughest and most complex market and everything else will be easy.”
So we could have picked one of the first projects to be organizing a small party. But no! We have picked the most complex and nerve-wracking party of all: a wedding. And not a simple wedding in a church in England with a few friends. A wedding in Sydney, organized by the happy couple in London, and the rest of the family between here and Australia.
More than medals at stake
So, we can’t wait to get LessAdmin.com out into the market. We are being told by everyone we talk to about the LessAdmin.com concept that we are on to a winner. As an investor, it fees like there is a lot more at stake than a medal.