Number of Asks: The ONE Lever
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the formation of organizational habits. (You can read this quick summary by BusinessWeek.) One case study examines Alcoa’s remarkable business turn-around in the 80’s/90’s. CEO Paul O’Neill focused the cultural energy (and habits) around safety–more specifically, around the number of safety violations.
We call this the ONE LEVER. Meaning, to maximize team cohesion and culture change you need to focus energy on ONE LEVER at a time to create organizational change.
What will that lever be? Be specific. Be clear.
The Orlando Magic focus on ‘butts in seats’.
FedEx focuses on number of packages that don’t arrive when promised (aiming for zero).
Just about everyone reading this is seeking some form or another of improved funding results.
Call it a culture of philanthropy.
Call it a sales culture.
Call it greater revenue for impact.
Call it funding the vision.
When you’re bringing your team along there is so much ‘other stuff’ that can obscure progress. Events, predisposition activities, reporting, deadlines, board meetings.
As it relates to INCOME DEVELOPMENT the ONE LEVER is – in most every case – the NUMBER OF ASKS.
This is what we emphasize, design-around, message, measure, reinforce.
Obviously a funding goal is pretty important. However that is a RESULT of this measurable activity. Similarly, Alcoa’s leap in quality (and then profits) was a RESULT of increased safety.
One lever: Number of Asks. Preach it. Measure it. It will be transformational. I promise.
Note: It’s not uncommon to see an organization (of any size) with fewer than 10 real-asks per quarter. In fact, it’s a safe bet that by our definition most are at ZERO.