23 May 2023 |

Operational Excellence Will Make Or Break You

By workweek

Vision & Mission

Snowflake delivered the most successful company IPO in history, selling 28 million shares and raising nearly $3.4 billion in the process.

Their CEO, Frank Slootman is widely regarded as one of the best CEO’s of this era. In his book Amp It Up he talks about the importance of having a grand vision for your company. His approach with Snowflake was no different. 

Snowflake’s mission statement is “Mobilizing the world’s data”. Not mobilizing their team, not mobilizing their company or even a country, mobilizing the world’s data. To some, this may seem outlandish, but to Frank and to leaders such as myself, this type of brevity is exactly what it takes in order to realize greatness.

Performance in any capacity starts with the need to get a group of people unified behind a defined cause. Salespeople want a compass, they need to know what direction they are heading in to enable them to show up and perform on the field each and every day. 

If you don’t yet have a vision for your team, make it a priority this week. Think about the following questions to help you to create one:

  • What do you want your team to achieve 12 months from now?
  • What behaviors will be required in order to get there?
  • What do you want your team to stand for?

When you combine your answers to those three questions, you will be left with a clear point of view which should underpin your team mission. Simple is effective in this case, you don’t need anything glamorous. You simply need a core mission, that is bold and brave in its nature.

Continue to repeat the mission statement at every opportunity. When you present, when you start team meetings and when you host quarterly business reviews. Provide your sellers with the compass they need.

Master Your Time

Time is the most precious resource in the world, yet it is often utilized like any other. It is the one resource you can never get back or actively manufacture more of.

Why then, would you allow your time to be taken up, used or drained by activities that don’t move the needle for your key daily priorities? 

Before discussing the premise of time management, it is critical that you take the time to map out your priorities, both on a daily and weekly basis. Your priorities ultimately underpin how you leverage your time and without them, you will continue to be lost as it relates to using your time and delegating effectively. Don’t just know them in your head, write them down, be specific and revisit them on a regular basis.

Elon Musk is the wealthiest man on the planet, his calendar is split into 5-minute increments. Bill Gates is one of the most successful men in history, his calendar is also split into 5-minute slots. Why? Because they both hold huge intrinsic value on the importance of every second of time, and you should too.

Does that mean you need to now set your calendar in 5-minute increments too? Not necessarily. But I would actively encourage you to audit your calendar, and find opportunities to optimize your commitments.

Here is several adjustments I made when I became a leader that have transformed my productivity:

  • For the majority of meetings that would be 30-minutes, I re-propose them for 20 minutes.
  • Whenever I have a 1-hour meeting, I typically re-propose or challenge it to be 40/45 minutes.
  • If I am in a meeting I cannot add value to or visa versa, I will send a note and politely leave.
  • I don’t automatically say yes to any meeting, it needs to be qualified before being accepted.
  • I join a limited number of internal recurring meetings, only the ones that are of importance for a meaningful reason.
  • I encourage colleagues to create video messages instead of hosting active meetings whenever the scenario doesn’t specifically require live engagement and can instead receive passive feedback/commentary.

Have a think through which of these could apply to you also to help you get a step ahead. The first time I implemented some of the principles above, I immediately clawed back almost 3-hours of time across my week. Those 3-hours were then re-distributed to activities to truly move the needle against my priorities. 

Personal Operating Rhythm

Back in 2017, I burned out completely. I suffered from crippling anxiety, panic attacks and had to take time out from work. I was miserable. Once I was able to pull myself out of that hole, I vowed to never let it happen again. In this section, I will unpack how I was able to get there. By looking at some of the greatest performers in the world: athletes.

Think of your favorite athlete, one of mine is Cristiano Ronaldo. Even though I am not a big football fan, I have massive support and admiration for Ronaldo’s career and mentality. At 38, when many football players have retired, Ronaldo continues to be a prolific character on and off the field.

How was he able to sustain his career for as long as he has? Based on a personal operating system that has allowed his brain and body to endure over an extended period of time.

As Sales Leaders, we’re not unlike athletes in many ways. We have a very intense career path that few will do beyond 15 years. It’s a sprint, in which you need to maximize your time on the field so you can rest and recoup once you eventually hang your gloves up (you know I had to squeeze in a Boxing analogy too!).

In order for that to be the case, it is important to create a personal operating rhythm that combines science and your character traits to optimize your daily performance.

The core tenants of my personal operating rhythm are as follows:

  • Daily morning and evening meditations for 24 minutes total per day.
  • Active exercise 5 days per week, with a long walk on the 6th day and 1 rest day.
  • Daily cold showers.
  • A weekly 60 – 90 minute massage.
  • In bed by 10pm, with daily journaling before the lights go out.

The combination of the science that underpins most of my personal operating system alongside mental resilience training creates a bulletproof approach to sustaining performance over time.

Explore which of these you could apply to your own life to ensure you don’t just win the sprint, but the marathon, too.

Next Week: Deal Excellence

Having provided an overview of Operational Excellence, next week we will move onto a high-level breakdown of driving Deal Excellence as a part of the POD Excellence™ framework. This includes aspects such as having to create repeatable success when it comes to winning business alongside the importance of mutual action plans.