Success is not what you know – it’s what you do

One of the reasons clients remember our training is the practicality of our tools and models. Feedback is often along the lines of, “That’s a really practical way to deal with our issues.”

It was especially pleasing to visit one of the companies I’m involved in training through the UK Government-backed program called, “Sharing in Growth”. There on the wall was this magnificent image of a ship, – our Waterline model.

This model was obviously being used to prioritize and focus resources in the business using post-its to identify the issues, with the business-critical issues sitting below the waterline in the Red zone.

Intrigued by the application of the tool, I asked a couple of the senior leaders about their experience of using the tool in real life.

Their first attempt at using the tool had been quite demoralizing, as they had identified a number of business critical issues – all below the waterline. Consequently they’d given the tool a miss.

When I chatted with them about this a few months later, they’d had a chance to reflect on the exercise and had realized a number of key points:

Firstly, they were experiencing a large number of business critical issues, which the tool only made even clearer to them

Secondly, whilst it had seemed overwhelming at first, the exercise had – in fact – helped the
m get to work on some of the really important issues.

With the business in a more stable state, they’re going back to the Waterline as a regular prioritization and alignment tool for the management team.

Success is not what we know, but what we do. This company is now making a difference by applying this simple, yet practical tool to their prioritization process.


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