Welcome to 2012. Fortunately for me I have been welcomed back by My Business to write again this year and of course I am flattered at the opportunity to share my thoughts with the readership. I suppose there must be enough people reading the articles to warrant a call back so thank you to all that read and post comments either publically or directly to me.
Over the break I was able to sit back and look at the business we are building at Insentra, taking time to think about the key areas that we are going to focus on in the next 12 months. Without doubt, the ride we have had in the recent 20 months has been incredible. We have gone from 40 to 220 square meters of space to accommodate the 14 Sydney staff and allow us room for growth. Heck.. we even managed to get a view of the harbour in the process. We established a Melbourne office and have a business that has grown at both top and bottom line whilst maintaining a strong cash position with no debt on the books. We have started to build brand equity in the market and have some very aggressive yet measured growth plans for this year, bringing on new lines of business. The questions that ran through my mind were all related to maintaining focus as the business grows.
Focus is one thing. Everyone is focused when they work. The issue is more that people need to be focused on the right things – the ones that matter or are going to make a difference. To that end I spent time thinking about what those key things are for Insentra and then discussed them with the management in our 6 monthly formal business review. We came up with five key words or themes that we wanted to ensure ran through the business – Automation, Efficiency, Celebrate, One Team One Dream (which we have coined as “OTOD”) and Accountability. Our belief is that if the entire business were to focus on just these items, our business will continue to grow profitably.
My previous blogs have spoken in one way or another about all but one of these – accountability. What does it really mean to be accountable? To me it means being responsible for your actions; taking ownership and being answerable. I did some surfing and found the Wiki on accountability which, amongst those previously mentioned terms, suggests “blameworthiness” as being synonymous. I fundamentally disagree! I understand, however, that in many organisations being accountable for something means you are likely to get blamed if it doesn’t work out – the good old “blame culture”. Indeed, it is this culture that goes against the idea of being focused. How can staff be focused if they are forever concerned that they will be blamed for something in their sphere of influence going awry?
In our last fortnightly staff update session, when communicating to staff the five key themes, I spoke at length about accountability and what it means to us as an organisation and it went something like this… We are all accountable to each other. The executive is accountable to each of you as much as each of you are accountable to the executive and to each other. We are ALL accountable. Our success is indeed that… our success. And to be successful we must set the bar high and achieve the goals we set out for ourselves and the business. To do so, we must all hold ourselves accountable; we must do the things we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do them and importantly, we must do so as one team. Accountability is not a means for you to be blamed when things go wrong. Everyone slips up. It is not the slip up that matters; it is the recovery. Rugby teams do not blame players for dropping a ball. If a ball is dropped, all the other players play harder to make up for what happened. Later someone pointed out that when rugby players drop the ball often they are usually dropped to a lower grade. I smiled.