The strongest and the weakest link in an organisation are its people: decision quality
The weakest and the strongest link in any organisation will always be its people. Systems and processes can be developed to prevent mistakes, limit their impact or enhance outputs, however, they are no guarantee for performance.
On the one hand people can adapt faster to new situations, but on the other hand they are also capable of taking risks without always measuring the consequences.
The same applies to crews onboard racing sailboats and this is why their environment is particularly relevant for the development of the competitive mindset in corporations.
When it comes to balancing resilience, risk and value, objectivity is key and competitiveness is the result.
Competitiveness is the ability to create more value than your competitors pursuing the same objective. In ocean racing, it means getting faster than your opponents towards the finish line.
Just as in offshore sailing races, value in corporations is related to the quality of the decisions made at crucial points during the opportunity realisation process.
It is these decisions, as much as the processes feeding them, which critically define the quality of this value generation process and the success of the product or service developed through it.
Achieving quality in decision-making is not an exact science though, as are a lot of the processes feeding the decision-making process during opportunity realisation, whether they relate to the definition of a prototype (e.g. design thinking, lean start-up, risk management) or its upgrading into a production release (scale-up, continuous improvement).
Granted, decisions must be built on reliable, correct and meaningful information, but this part is just a fraction of what is required to be in a position to make a quality decision.
The other elements are much less objective and therefore more prone to biases, misinterpretations, fallacies or subjectivity.
However robust and well understood the processes underlying the opportunity realisation are, if these sources of errors and mistakes are not consciously tracked, prevented or eliminated, they will negatively impact your competitiveness, no matter what.
So which are these subjective decision dimensions?
The very first one is the identification of the required decisions themselves. Establishing which decisions have to be made, and in which order, is the basis for ultimately reaching the right conclusion.
Then, the reasoning followed to make the decisions must be correct and logical.
In order to reach the optimal decision, a choice between doable alternatives is necessary and the trade-offs and value associated with these alternatives must be identified.
Finally, the stakeholders commitment towards the decision made must be in place.
Whether during the design of a racing boat or during the definition of a strategy and tactics in the middle of race leg, teams will need to answer the same questions to make the same decisions as businesses developing and commercialising a new product or service.
Meeting these quality criteria is trickier and more subtle than it seems, because experience and personal biases will naturally drive us to overlook or ignore certain of the above elements. This is why collective intelligence and training our mind to remain open and objective is so important for the quality of our decisions and the competitiveness of our projects.
Building a strong team cohesion and developing that mindset can only be achieved by creating the conditions, in which the influence of these biases can be experienced and consciously worked on.
Immersions in environments where the same, yet sufficiently unfamiliar challenges and dynamics are at play as in today’s competitive business context, enables participants to objectivise the decision elements creating barriers to competitiveness, in order to eliminate their negative impact.
Offshore sailing races provide such an environment and training ground. ALL4ONE consulting has recreated it in the ALL4ONE TROPHY, a business game in which a sailing race around the world provides the backdrop for a value creation scenario. Design thinking, lean start-up and team efficiency levers are explored throughout the game and combined to augment the competitiveness experience.
The ALL4ONE TROPHY can be organised at your promises, at an outside venue or online, as standalone training or integrated in a more comprehensive organisational development programme.
Picture credits: © Dongfeng Race Team