Do you have competitors who are better funded than you? Is your team relatively new? Are your competitors richer in human resources?
You might even believe that your team is the underdog.
You can turn that around and gain a competitive advantage, despite your current disadvantages, with one simple thing: eliminate mistakes.
Of course some mistakes are important for learning and we don’t need to sweat every little thing. But many mistakes are avoidable mental errors that don’t enhance learning and can hold your team back from moving to the front.
The principle is to be effective and precise at the tasks that are most important for your team’s productivity.
Yes, some mistakes have an important place. Risk-taking, failures and the lessons learned from mistakes are a critical part of the growth and improvement of any entrepreneur or leader. But, the mistakes we’re talking about are mental errors. It’s important to emphasize the importance of eliminating mistakes on the tasks that the team needs to execute with accuracy. Not every team has limitless time, capital and talent. For the teams with less, eliminating mistakes is a path towards achieving your team’s purpose.
A way to think of the category of tasks where we need to eliminate mistakes is to think of burgers on the flattop. Imagine you own a modest, but successful burger joint. Where do you earn your customers and make your money?
It starts with consistently cooking the burgers. You can experiment in other areas and take some risks with your marketing, but you need to cook the burgers properly and consistently. You can’t have mental errors with the burgers on the flattop. Every team, every business has jobs or tasks that fall into the category of “burgers on the flattop”. Those tasks need to be executed with excellent precision, especially on teams that are new or have limited resources.
Established teams with endless resources and money can get away with occasional mistakes in executing the burgers on the flattop. They have other ways to keep competing in spite of a little slop — although that never lasts forever. But, when your starting point is far behind almost everyone else, you need to be selective about where you put your focus.
In spite of any temporary deficiencies, you need to pull it all together and start to bring your team to the front. The best place to start is by eliminating mistakes. It’s the best place to start, because, for the most part, eliminating mistakes doesn’t cost anything. You don’t need more people to do it and it’s a vehicle for demonstrating and reinforcing the values that are critical for building a team.
Eliminating the mental-error-type of mistakes doesn’t require a huge repertoire of tactics and strategies. You only need a few moves that you can execute exceptionally well.
Everyone makes mistakes, but you will make fewer, and you will be proficient enough in what you do to be able to seize opportunities. In doing so you allow yourself to compete in the short run while you build your resources and amass your team’s strength for the road ahead.
Roger Veliquette is a successful leader who transitioned to the business world from an international college coaching career in American football. He is committed to building teams as a pathway to personal transformation and a sustainable world. Find more from Roger on twitter @RogerVeilquette and his blog More Peers.