This simple sentence should be your new personal motto. It will keep
you productive and your business on track.
Success in business is relatively simple: Make good decisions more
often than you make bad ones, and you win. Make bad decisions too
often, and you lose.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No. Particularly because, as your business grows
and becomes more complex, more and more people get involved in the
At first, it's just you and your gut instinct--and more often than
not, you and your gut get it right (that's what gets your business out
of Early Struggle in the first place). Getting it right means your
business succeeds and grows. Growing means adding people and
complexity. And before you know it, the most important decisions are
being made not by you, alone, but by teams-- some of which include
you, and some of which don't.
And teams, as everyone rapidly finds out, generally suck at making
high-quality decisions consistently.
Hidden agendas, passive-aggressive point-scoring, manipulative
bullying, sullen disengagement: The ways in which teams can screw up
the simple process of making a good decision are legion-- and so are
the suggested remedies. Endless books, workshops and assessment tools
have been produced (my own included) each claiming to solve the issue
of dysfunctional teams.
My take? Around 70 / 80 percent of the crud that occurs when otherwise
good people get together in a joint decision-making process can be
eradicated by the conscious use of a simple, 20-word statement. I call
it The Enterprise Commitment, and here it is:
"When working in a team or group environment, I will place the
interests of the enterprise above my personal interests."
This simple statement of intent--so simple that it may seem at first
to have been coined by Pollyanna herself--is in fact a highly powerful
rubric that will keep your team focussed on high-quality
A Statement That Makes a Statement
Think of a high-performing team like a group of highly-skilled
surgeons gathered around a patient on the operating table: little
unnecessary distraction, full focus, high-quality data, precise
analysis, mutual support and clinical execution.
Why is this picture so different from the scene in most boardrooms? In
my experience, it's not because the individuals concerned are less
capable or less committed. It's simply that the "patient" isn't
clearly defined. For the surgeon in an operating room, there's no
question about who she's there to serve.
For an executive in the boardroom, the "patient" (the business) is
amorphous, indistinct, and sometimes forgotten about altogether. The
Enterprise Commitment simply, but powerfully, keeps everyone's focus
on what's truly important-- the needs of the enterprise as a whole.
(By the way, I use the term "enterprise" because the same dynamic
applies not just to entire organizations, but any enterprise
undertaken by two or more people, including a business, division,
department, project, group or team.)
Try using The Enterprise Commitment in upcoming team meetings. You can
print it out onflashcards for your other team members here, and see if
reminding everyone of who the patient truly is, transforms your
decision-making. I'm betting it does.
Download a free chapter from the author's book, "The Synergist: How to
Lead Your Team to Predictable Success" which provides greater detail
on 'The Enterprise Commitment' and a comprehensive model for
developing a consistently high performing team.