Resolution Reflections: Predictable Success

Posted by Lauren Keen on February 27, 2017
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This year, I made one personal resolution and a few professional. For the record, soda hasn’t touched my lips in 2017. A professional resolution I’ve kept is to read more business books (I’ve given myself a goal of 6). The first on my list has been: Predictable Success: Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track – and Keeping It There by Les McKeown.

McKeown has had a successful consulting career helping organizations in every life cycle stage, of which he has identified 7: Early Struggle, Fun, Whitewater, Predictable Success, Treadmill, The Big Rut and Death Rattle. As you can probably tell from the title of the book, the most desirable stage is the fourth: Predictable Success. McKeown works with organizations in the early and later stages to get them into (or back into) this stage. If you would like to know more about how to accomplish this, feel free to buy the book or bring him in.

I decided to write about my experience reading this book when McKeown describes how to return to Predictable Success once the organization has slid into Treadmill. (And no, I’m not trying to remind you of that gym membership you sprung for in January that you’re barely using now – this is not that kind of treadmill.) For a company to initially move into Predictable Success from Whitewater, it must implement systems and processes to do so. When those systems and processes start managing the people and not the other way around, the organization slides past Predictable Success into Treadmill. What follows are the 6 areas that can counterbalance those stringent systems and processes.

  1. Hiring
  2. Deployment
  3. Performance Assessment
  4. Training
  5. Mentoring and Coaching
  6. Ownership and Self-Accountability

I naturally perked up a bit when I saw Training as a topic. After all, I work for a company that has become a training expert over the last 20+ years, so I can always argue that training is an answer to almost everything. It’s nice to see someone else make the point for me.

McKeown says that you must revamp your hiring, deployment and performance assessment processes first and foremost. Then you must “provide whatever training is necessary for our employees to achieve the personal development they or we are looking for.”

The training must do 3 things:

  • Be developmentally focused: You cannot simply transmit information. You must ask, “did the training activity actually make the change you wanted to see, or not?”
  • Be Socratic in nature: Give the opportunity for learners to ask and answer questions with the goal being “illuminating ideas.” McKeown states that the traditional form of learning in Treadmill are monologues based on slide presentations, broken up by group work and containing to room for discussion or debate. He implores us to seek out dynamic interaction.
  • Consistently and regularly involve C-Level executives: Bringing C-level executives in allows these leaders to respond meaningfully to questions and discussions. They will also benefit from hearing the feedback of learners and feeling their energy around certain subjects.

Naturally, as I was perusing this section on Training, I harkened to our business acumen solution, where learners consistently increase their financial knowledge by 30% and apply this new knowledge in their actions plans; where we transmit information, then encourage discussion, storytelling and discourse; where we encourage involvement of leadership in sessions to both talk and listen.

In conclusion, McKeown does an excellent job of walking the reader through a company’s life cycle. He outlines the hallmarks of each stage and gives actionable steps for moving the organization into Predictable Success. Even though he describes the above attributes of training for organizations in Treadmill, I believe they could apply to organizations at every stage.

Topics: Business Acumen, Value of Classroom Training