The value of getting shit done

Global Financier JP Morgan was once shown an envelope containing a ‘guaranteed formula for success’. He agreed that if he liked the advice inside, he would pay $25,000USD for its contents.

Morgan opened the envelope, read it, nodded and paid. What did the advice say?
1. Every morning, write a list of things that need to be done that day;
2. Do them

In no uncertain terms, getting stuff done and being reliable is enormously powerful in business. In any team, especially a fast-growing one, people are working under huge pressure with constant looming deadlines and never enough hours in the day.  You absolutely have to rely on people to do what they said they were going to do when they said they were going to do it by. If you can’t rely on your colleagues, then invariably you will end up doing some of their stuff yourself and as soon as this happens, you are no longer doing your own job, meaning not only are you now under more pressure, but the job you are doing for your company/ business/ division is now not being done as effectively and as well as it should be.

The problem with this is that as reasonable humans we are understanding so when someone says, “I’m sorry, I got caught up in stuff and didn’t have the chance to get to it today, I’ll try and look at it tomorrow” we shrug our shoulders sympathetically and don’t make an issue.  After all, there will only be a slight delay in the work, no big deal, right…?  Wrong.  This phrase is way more dangerous than you might think.  Yes, there will only be a slight delay in the project but imagine if it was the other way around.  Imagine how much more effective you would be if you never had to worry about someone doing it when they said they would.  Not only would you be able to focus solely on your role/ your part, but the comfort from the certain knowledge that your colleagues were doing their part would motivate you to ensure that you were also doing the best possible job within the time frame so you didn’t let them down.  As a team and as a business your overall performance would significantly improve.

If you think of the great sports teams this becomes visually more striking.  Think Barcelona FC’s team or the New Zealand All Blacks; the reason Xavi and Iniesta and Messi are so great, is that they all know exactly where the other will be to pass to without even looking - they can rely on each other.  It would never occur to Messi to think ‘is there any point in me dribbling all the way upfield in case the others don’t bother moving with me?’No. He doesn’t need to.  Unfortunately, in business, this happens all the time.  The same with the All Blacks – whenever one makes a line break he doesn’t need to look left or right to see if there is anyone to pass to because he knows there will be a teammate on either shoulder – he can rely on them to do their jobs. The reliance on teammates is more than simply a nice to have or even a basic requirement – in the hands of the All Blacks or Barcelona FC, their complete reliance and certain faith in each other’s work rate enables them to keep sustained, non-stop pressure on the opposing team until they wilt, gaps appear and they can score. So, the reliance that they have on each other not only becomes part of their performance but a key driver of their ability to almost always win and to be considered the greatest.

In my view, it should be exactly the same way in business, but unfortunately, it isn’t.  The ability to rely on your teammates/ work colleagues to do their job in tandem with you doing yours to the best of their ability and within the agreed timeframes, isn’t just a basic requirement or a nice to have – it is part and parcel of what drives your performance and is fundamental to your ability as a group to exceed expectations and to win. So, the next time a colleague shrugs apologetically and says they didn’t have a chance to get to it when they said they would don’t just let it go.  You’re human so be understanding but don’t forget – they’re affecting the performance of both your team and your business! Having said that, I am one of the worst offenders at this so I am writing this blog to put myself under pressure to get better – and I’ll let my colleagues judge the success of that.

If you like this blog, find it useful, or think it’s interesting, please share it and if you have any questions at all please feel free to comment – I am always open to a conversation.

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