Making Your Burning Platform A Success

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In my previous posts, I talked about the ‘burning platform’ and where it originated from. In my second blog post, I then spoke about the people in an organisation and how this is paramount for change.

Now I speak about how best to make your burning platform a success…


  • Linking success

I am convinced that the key to creating a burning platform is by defining a clear and strong link between business goals and individual goals. In other words, the business plan cascades from the very top level through each level of responsibility and job-role thus defining how each person’s actions, standards of performance and specific objectives come together to deliver the plan. What this means is, simply, that there is one and only one agenda in place. Everyone can see how it all fits together and no one is spending time or resource on anything that is not part of the plan.


When does this go wrong?

When a company employs just 1 person it is easy for that person to be motivated by success. When there are 2 people it is also easy for the 2 employees to understand that working hard, and working smart, will be to their benefit. Again, with three people it is fairly easy to see the connection between the business success and individual benefits. But, at what point does this connection started to become foggy and why? Why is it that commonly, in large organisations i.e. 200+ employees, whilst most people work hard and smart, others are merely passengers?


  • What behaviours do successful teams exhibit?


There are lots of examples of successful, winning teams. My particular sporting passion is rugby so let’s look at some of the qualities of the most successful rugby team ever; the All Blacks. Since the start of Test rugby, the All Blacks have a winning percentage of almost 75%. No-one else gets close. Not South Africa at 62%, nor France at 55%. Certainly not England, Australia or Wales with 53%, 52% and 51% respectively. Read on and take note.


  • Rugby grabs Kiwi kids young. Once it has a hold, it’s not allowed to let go – what can we learn for our businesses? Recruit people with the same values as the business?
  • Once bitten by the bug, kids are fed through a carefully designed series of programmes, starting at the age of five with the ingeniously named Small Blacks. What do you do to develop the culture inside your business? One-Off stars and banners change programme launch presentation or a series of continuous learning and development activities
  • Stroll around any New Zealand town and you soon notice something very striking to British eyes. Where kids back home will be kicking a football around, or a tennis ball or even squashed-up drinks can, Kiwi children will have a rugby ball in their hands.
  • The goal is winning and when they win, they all get the same prize
  • Having a common goal and a commonly shared prize means they all have an equal desire for winning and try their hardest to achieve it
  • Defeat is not pleasant – the team fully understands what losing it looks like and feels like and they are for the try their hardest to avoid this scenario. Do the people in your business understand what losing looks like?
  • There are lots of short-term wins on route to big goal – perhaps an overused expression by sporting team coaches is to say “we take one game at a time, however, the logic in this is that a series of individual match victories builds confidence towards the ultimate goal of winning the World Cup. If you can’t win next week’s match how will you win the World Cup in two years’ time?”
  • No passengers – there is nobody in the team of 15 players on the pitch who is not contributing. If this was the case, it would be immediately obvious to the rest the team, the spectators and therefore it simply can’t happen. How could we mimic this in a business environment?

In summary, what can we learn?

  • Recruit the people with the same values as your vision
  • Developing and embedding the culture is not one of the activity but a continuing process
  • If you change the direction or you change the vision you may need to change at least some of the people
  • Taking tough decisions – there has to be a clear understanding of what winning looks like and what losing looks like
  • Sharing the success the associate model – everyone must believe that they will benefit from achieving the business vision or goals and that the distribution of this benefit is fair


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