This is part 3 of a 3 part series on Building Collective Awareness.
You will have to create your own rhythm that makes sense for your business and culture. Naturally, I cannot tell you exactly what that rhythm should be. What I can do is provide several examples to spark your thinking. Adopt one of these examples or use them as a spark to create your own collective awareness.
Alan Mulally’s Business Process Review
Every Thursday for two hours, Alan’s management team would meet to review the business. By “management team,” don’t think just a handful of people. There were a lot of people in this meeting to be sure that every team knew what was going on.
They would start with a review of the overall plan. Every person knew the plan. It wasn’t complicated. In fact, the plan fit on a business card-size piece of paper. During the Thursday meeting, each leader would report on their part of the plan, including a color coding to designate their current status.
When he started this rhythm, it took a while before leaders had the confidence to be vulnerable and share what was really going on. Mulally has told the story of how he clapped when the first red status finally appeared. Mulally says that, “If it’s not a shared environment, people are not going to have the confidence to share how it’s really going. Then you’re just managing a secret—you don’t know what’s going on.”
This level of awareness and information-sharing turned Mulally’s organization into a cohesive network of teams that was working toward a common goal: the survival and turnaround of Ford Motor Company, in this case. Teams could see what other teams were doing. Teams would start to offer help to other teams that needed it. It became a true “team of teams.”
And it worked. Ford Motor Company turned around.
The War Room
David Fox has been an executive focused on customer-focused cultures for over twenty years. One day, as he was driving to the office, he received a phone call from a colleague telling him about a system issue. As soon as he arrived, David sprinted into the building, bypassed his office without checking email, grabbing coffee, or chatting with co-workers, and ran up two flights of stairs into the company’s war room. Thankfully, he arrived just before the CEO, who looked at David and said, “Where is everybody else?”
You see, when there was an issue, every executive was expected to be in the war room, focused on the issue until it was resolved. The war room was a physical room lined with computers and monitors so that every executive and manager had all of the information necessary to solve the problem quickly. The war room was not just active during an issue—it was active 24/7. The war room constantly provided the information needed for everyone to create a great customer experience. The war room provided collective awareness.
You could employ a similar approach.
By the way, don’t miss a key insight from his story.
You see, David’s story not only illustrates the use of a war room but reveals an important truth for what actually made the war room effective: the CEO’s hyper-focus on a great customer experience. Sure, the war room was a method to achieve the goal but would not have been effective without the clear focus on what was more important than anything else: providing a great customer experience. It was a clear reference point, a distinct destination and articulation about what was ultimately most important for the organization.
If you put two variables of the formula together—a clear reference point and a method of providing collective awareness to achieve it—like David’s CEO did, you start to unlock the power of the formula.
Intentional Leadership Rhythms
An executive with a nationally recognized insurance company relayed to me how they conduct weekly CEO meetings with senior leadership, bi-weekly meetings with mid-level leadership, and monthly meetings with everyone. It’s a good example of an intentional leadership rhythm to create collective awareness.
Read my book The Hippo Solution when it comes out in May for additional examples.