I recently wrote an article about driving high performance in an organisation ‘Environment Dictates Performance‘. In this article I’m going to share the 3 values that drive everything we do at Unity-Group, but also how we apply the same values to our clients and the ‘Agglomerate‘ model that we created.
What it won’t do is give you a template you can copy. Our values are different from other high performance companies or sports teams but are specific to our business and our objectives. They would not have been appropriate for my last business, nor the one before that, but for now they are what drives both our team and our community.
Equally, they are a work in progress, they provide the magnetic north for our company especially as we staff up at an incredible rate. It would be naive of me to assume that they are timeless. Even the mighty Jack Welsh at General Electric eventually realised that his mantra of First or Second in each sector which had driven them to meteoric success had actually become something that was holding them back from being all they could be.
The Three Values of Unity-Group and The Agglomerations in 2016
We are building a high performance & entrepreneurial business. We will be most successful when both our internal team and the companies in the agglomeration are given the freedom to perform at the highest level.
The best results come from giving control not taking it. Find ways to give more control.
- Traditional M&A starts with inherent distrust on both sides and each party begins building walls to protect their interests. The tendency in both M&A and with employees is to punish all for the mistakes of one. If one employee abuses the privilege of working from home it is easier to ban all then to trust that the remainder of your staff are smart enough to not do so. Lets never fall into that trap with either employees or the entrepreneurs we work with.
We work with smart cookies, trust them and verify if necessary.
- Trust and delegation is not the same as abdication. We have legal responsibilities to our public shareholders and owe it to them to transparently share and report the results that we are achieving.
Due diligence or reports are to be used to verify, not score points
- Accountability is a privilege we have earned. When done well it gives everyone the information needed to move forward more successfully. Using it to score points is a zero sum game and breaks trust.
Assume best intent in all interactions
- Under pressure, as all high performance environments are, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that someone’s actions are not thought out, are stupid, or even deliberately negative. See ‘smart cookies’ above and ‘collaboration’ below. Assuming best intent takes longer and forces you to see the world through another’s eyes but leads to collaborative solutions instead of downward spirals.
Leaders build leaders and we trust leaders to do the right thing.
- Velocity is one of our three pillars. Speed cannot happen if decisions have to be passed up the chain of command. We work with smart cookies and we trust them to make the right decisions. Leaders can only lead when they have the authority to do so. Let individuals make decisions. If it turns out to be wrong we will fix it and they will learn. The best leaders have generally made the most mistakes.
Collaboration Beats Competition
Pull your chair round to their side of the table
- Metaphorically or physically if you have the chance. How can we help the entrepreneur and the employees we work with get the results they want? It’s not always possible but it never will be unless we both start by looking in the same direction.
Work together towards a resolution
- Conflicting ideas and creative differences are healthy in any high performing business, but a collaborative not a combative approach is the only way to move ideas forward. Get past our egos and focus on what will it take to get to a resolution. Maintaining high velocity means that you have to let things go. Have an adult conversation and move on. Remember you are dealing with smart cookies who have the best intentions.
Focus on solutions not problems
- The human mind is uniquely trained to find what’s out of place and what’s wrong with any situation. It takes no talent whatsoever and our ability to spot problems impresses no one when we’re playing at this level. The value lies in our ability to create a solution to the problem. Smart cookies find solutions on their own or collaboratively.
Ask better questions to get to the result
- In high performance environments the quality of communication is everything. If we’re are not getting the answers you want, start asking better questions.
Enjoy. It could be taken away.
- Formula 1 is one of the highest performance businesses in the world. We are playing in the Formula 1 of small business. The fear we feel, the attention we’re under and the trust people have put in us is a privilege. It’s a privilege we have earned but it is not a privilege that is guaranteed. Don’t take it for granted, go-kart racing feels very slow once you’ve been in an F1 car.
Business is a team sport
- And winning as a team is a great feeling. We’ve earned our place on the team so trust ourselves and back our own instincts.
Velocity – Prolific Beats Perfect
Speed of transactions determines our success
- Amazon’s ‘one click’ checkout has also allowed them to become a retail behemoth because they realised, as all successful businesses do, that speed of transactions is critical. Our ability to quickly bring on board great people, entrepreneurs and employees, is what will allow us to smash past competitors that are paralysed by not being able to make decisions. We are willing to accept that sometimes we will make mistakes – that is fine, we’ll fix them.
Every deal we do makes the next deal easier.
- The first deal is always the hardest. The second can leverage off the first. No deal is the ultimate deal, each deal is merely a stepping stone to the next. Sometimes you need to go back a step to get a smaller deal done before you get the one that you want. At every stage you learn and refine. The more deals done the easier it becomes.
More transactions minimises the risk of all
- If your success relies on the ‘perfect’ deal, partner or client it is guaranteed to fail because you will put too much pressure on it to happen. Prolific beats perfect. An agglomeration with 100 companies in it is much less risky than when we start with 3 or 4. Let’s get there quicker.
Profit is the key metric we focus on
- The market evaluates us by our ability to generate profit. The profit that each company produces and the profit that we bring in through acquisitions. Consequently that is the metric that we hold our employees to.
Every entity has problems, focus on the value they add
Put less subtly, ‘every business is a bit shit’ when you look under the hood. Lets acknowledge it and move on. Our job is not to try and predict whether a company will be successful in the future or not. Our job is to give them the best environment to thrive and go out and do more deals. Same goes for employees.