Francesco Banchi: Did you brush your teeth?


Parents! What do we do everyday to give our children a few healthy habits?
We repeat things hundreds, thousands of times. Son, brush your teeth! Son, don’t leave the shoes on the kitchen table! Son, take your dirty socks out of the Xmas tree! Son, put the toys back in the box! It is a never-ending sequence of the same exclamations over and over again.

I was listening to myself the other day, doing just this, repeating and repeating the same stuff when…boom!

It was finally clear! That is why in organizations, good strategies fail.

Wow, you don’t see the connection yet, do you? Let me explain:

We are people, we dream a lot, I do! The dreamers dream constantly. The eyes up towards the sky waiting for the clouds to fall with answers and with the keys to that dream.

Others plan, all the time. They plan perfection, which cannot be achieved, so that perfection itself becomes the ever-repeating dream that needs to be planned again and again.
Few act! Execute the plans! They go all the way, dream, plan and get it done. They test themselves in real life and learn and improve and finally reach those dreams!

When we look at organizations, we find out that the problem is exactly the same. Many dream, some plan and few get the things done. No surprise, since organizations are made of people!

Strategies are rarely wrong, few good brains in a two-days mountain-retreat workshop can easily point out the right direction to follow.

Task forces work hard on building the plans to fulfill the strategies. Scenarios, numbers, assumptions, activities and resources linked together to make it happen.
But then something happens. The energy and momentum that sustained the flow slowly disappears and the void fills the space.

How can I keep the energy flowing? How can an organization consistently get things done and make things happen?

I say it is like with my children. Did you brush your teeth? Did you finish your homework? You persistently insist until it is done. I call this “follow-up” and I can claim with confidence that the most successful strategies fail because organizations do not follow up consistently on the implementation and execution of the plans. Performance culture is missing.

Follow-up is just the end-part of the story; at the beginning, you want to be sure you communicate clearly your expectations, so that there will be no misunderstanding or grey zones. And in the middle you will need to show good motivational skills, because you truly want your team to be very successful at getting things done.

Why we don’t do things we are supposed to be doing?

Here, I have my personal theory, maybe because of my two young kids: follow-up reminds us of our parents asking if we had brushed our teeth before sleeping or if we had finished our homework before running out of the front door to meet our friends and have fun! I didn’t like to have my parents breathing down my neck, how on Earth could I like the feeling I am doing the same to my team now?

And then kids again help me to understand. If my parents were not asking two days in a row, easily I would postpone homework after playing with friends or even to the next day. You see the point? Human nature is against implementation! Individuals have constantly different priorities and by following-up we make sure we keep focused and aligned in the same direction.

So, do you have good processes to monitor your progress towards your goals? Do you follow-up on the assignments you give to your team? Did you brush your teeth?


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