Tough economic conditions have left many organisations fighting for survival. In this complex, volatile climate, businesses will need to consider all the information available and fully understand the context of the situation if they are to survive and achieve long-term success.

The reality, however, is that businesses are dealing with an enormous amount of pressure and are often quick to rely on information already available to them or that they can easily obtain. For example, what made our competitors successful? What was their secret recipe for surviving the first wave of COVID-19? And what lessons can we learn from them to reinforce our business?

In fact, we are often so fixated on surviving that we overlook a host of important things.

This is a well-known cognitive bias referred to as “survivorship bias”: the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that make it past a selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because they lack visibility.

For example, music from the past is often thought of as better than contemporary music. This could be because only the best music from the past is replayed, while today’s music, good and bad, is far more accessible. Thus, survivorship creates perception bias.

But what does this have to do with business and making better decisions?

To explore this, we need to go back to World War II when the US recognised that countries didn’t win battles with bravery alone. The victors were usually the side that made marginal gains by receiving 5% fewer hits or using 5% fewer resources at 95% of the cost.

To achieve this, the US founded the Statistical Research Group in 1942 – a classified project consisting of the brightest statisticians to help in the war effort. Enter the scene, Abraham Wald, the son of a kosher baker from a small Transylvanian town who possessed an exceptional talent for mathematics.

The US army knew that they needed to protect their planes from a highly efficient anti-aircraft weapon called the ‘The Flak’ but they didn’t know how. After mapping out the damage, the initial recommendation was to strengthen the planes’ vulnerable areas. In particular, the tail, body and wings.

Seeing beyond the data, Abraham made a game-changing observation: they were only analysing the damage on planes that returned. To be fully informed, they would need to consider all the places where no bullet holes appeared. From this, they quickly surmised that the planes that went down were hit on the cockpit and engine.

By looking at the bigger picture, they were able to reinforce the most important areas and save countless lives.

We see the same perception bias in business: an organisation tries to replicate a product, process or structure that worked well for a competitor but for some reason fails. Why? Because we only have half of the picture. By focusing on the successful outcomes, we discount the barriers and failures along the way.

So, how do we move beyond survivor bias in business?

There is no secret recipe to business success. Building a high-performance company requires discipline, continuous improvement and growth in marginal increments. Identifying and reinforcing the vulnerable areas in your business is essential. However, it is equally important, if not more important, to know what you are good at and what is going well, and to consistently build these value drivers.

At 2Collaborate we have designed an effective and easy-to-use High-Performance formula that can assist you on this journey – underpinned by nearly 30 years of application and testing. Built on the notion that performance is a culture, not a programme, this formula acts as a blueprint to create your business’s Way of doing things. Adjusted to your needs, it can help you identify and improve areas of vulnerability while reinforcing the value drivers that will ensure your long-term success.

About the author: Hennie Brittz, Director and Head of Marketing and Technology at 2Collaborate

Hennie has spent 12 years in business and consulting conceptualising, designing and implementing large-scale performance improvement processes.

An entrepreneur at heart, he founded the design and internal communications agency, Elevate, in 2019. Shortly, thereafter he co-founded GameChangers, a business consultancy that brings you the best from the sports field and boardroom.

Get to know more about Hennie on LinkedIn

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Unless it’s backed by a culture of collaboration and execution, your strategy isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. As Peter Drucker said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.

Culture change starts at the top. Leaders must ask questions to understand what is needed from them to embed a collaborative, winning and high-performance culture:

o What behaviours and practices are required to achieve our strategy?

o How well do we demonstrate these?

o How are we embedding these within our organisation?

o What measures are in place to ensure they are happening consistently?

Consistent application of these behaviours and practises by your leaders will determine your culture over time. Crucial then is the recruitment, development and promotion of leaders.

So, what makes a truly great leader?

When analysing the research for his book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins found that leaders who ran great companies during the transition from good-to-great were Level 5 leaders.

Your leadership standard is defined by what Level 5 means for your business. To cultivate this level of leadership, four crucial elements are required:

Your leadership standard is defined by what Level 5 means for your business. To cultivate this level of leadership, four crucial elements are required:

1. Visibility – invest time to really engage your people and get to know them personally to understand what makes them tick

2. Engagement – lead with inclusivity, set your people up for success and help them grow

3. Humility – know the difference between self-confidence and arrogance, seek to add value to others, show gratitude for what you have and take responsibility for your actions

4. Grit – lead with courage, conscientiousness, perseverance, resilience and passion.

Longer-term high-performance starts with the right type and depth of leadership in your business coupled with consistency. Talk to us if you want to develop and implement this kind of leadership.

In the next blog post, we are going to explore how to create this consistency. If you’ve enjoyed this read, be sure to sign-up for our monthly newsletter bringing you tips, tools and the latest industry thinking

About the author:

Tjaart Minnaar, CEO and Leadership Development guru at 2Collaborate.

Tjaart has spent 35 years in business and consulting conceptualising, designing and implementing solutions to improve business and individual performance. The success has been highlighted by several of his clients winning Deloitte’s Best Company To Work For Survey, overall or in their industry categories.

Get to know more about Tjaart on LinkedIn

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Updated: Dec 17, 2020

If the destination is crystal clear, the plan to get there may change along the way. Agility and the ability to execute changes to the plan, are the hallmarks of a successful organisation.

Developing and executing strategies that deliver real value for businesses and their stakeholders is at the top of every CEO's wish list. Yet, all too often organisations fall short of effectively translating their strategies into action and sustainable results.

Why is this the case?

  • not having a clearly defined destination;

  • a complicated plan without clear priorities;

  • too many initiatives at the same time

  • ineffective communication; and

  • misalignment, where employees don’t see the destination or don’t believe in what you are trying to achieve.

Let’s look at strategy development and implementation principles that work.

1. It is a cycle, not an event and needs to be a core Executive discipline in the organisation: Analyse, define, articulate, communicate, align, execute, reflect. Repeat.

Continuous Cycle with interlinking time frames

2. Keep it simple: Drafting the plan to get to the destination by breaking it down into achievable chunks (horizons) with clearly prioritised initiatives per horizon, indicating what success looks like and how it will be measured.

3. Articulation is key: Everyone in the organisation needs to “see the picture” and the benefit of reaching the destination, for them as individuals and for the organisation as a whole.

4. Communicate with purpose and honesty: Explaining the context, providing the details, regularly communicating progress and always telling the truth whether it’s good or bad.

5. Operationalise through employee engagement: Utilising performance scorecards across all levels in the organisation, sets the agenda and creates focus. Structured team meetings can then be used to engage everyone in regular goal-setting, devising action plans and reviewing performance – thereby creating a cycle to manage performance at a team level.

6. Success breeds success: Recognising and celebrating wins builds momentum and healthy internal competition to get to the winning line.

This combination of unified direction and alignment to common goals creates focus and is a key enabler in translating strategy into sustainable results.

Developing and executing strategies that deliver real value for businesses and their stakeholders is at the top of every CEO's wish list. If your organisation needs help defining and articulating strategy and aligning your people behind it, we are here to help.

In the next blog post, more about creating consistency in leadership practices and behaviours that will help set up a winning, high-performance culture.

If you’ve enjoyed this read, be sure to sign-up for our monthly newsletter bringing you tips, tools and the latest industry thinking.

About the author: Tjaart Minnaar, CEO and strategy expert at 2Collaborate. Get to know more about Tjaart on LinkedIN

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