Many years ago, a friend told me about a seminar that he had attended. Each seminar participant received a cap with the word ON on the front of the cap and the word IN on the back of the cap.
They were asked at the start of the seminar to wear the cap backward – showing the IN above his or her face.
Each person could not turn around the cap with the ON above his or her face until they understood what working ON their business meant.
As he was telling me his story, I understood how important as a business principle this was, and I was ready to implement it immediately!
So, I created the ON/IN approach (working ON, not just IN, the business) for our company. Pro-active planning is the key concept with ON/IN, and involves a three-part planning strategy:
- Grow yourself
- Grow your people
- Grow your business
You can condense the ON/IN principle into one statement:
Work ON the business while we work IN the business.
– Bobby Albert
Once you have committed to grow yourself first, and you, as the leader, grow your people, now you are able to grow your business!
Our First ON/IN Workshop
In the fall of 1999, I wanted to get our employees involved in the pro-active planning process as a normal way and approach to doing business. That is when I introduced the ON/IN principle to teach our people, and I hosted a company-wide half-day workshop.
Since our company had several different business functions and business units or divisions, I worked very hard with each leader from each function or business unit to prepare for the meeting.
Every leader can achieve tremendous growth by answering eight key questions.
I’ve prepared a special printable one-sheet download that contains all of these business growth questions. Click <here> to download.
First Three Questions
The leader of each function or business unit developed a PowerPoint presentation to explain their answers to the following three questions:
- Where have we been?
- Where are we now?
- Where are we going?
Each leader made their presentation to the entire company.
Second Three Questions
After the leaders finished their presentations, we asked every employee from each function and business unit to sit as a group. Within each group, we sat no more than eight people at a table to encourage interaction and discussion.
Next, the table groups used flip charts to record their ideas and answers to the following three questions:
- How can we get there?
- When do we want to arrive?
- Who can make it happen on schedule?
Second Follow-Up Workshop
One month following the first ON/IN workshop, we held a second company-wide half-day workshop on the ON/IN principle.
Each leader of a function or business unit reported back to the whole company using a slide presentation that displayed the results and progress they had made because of their table discussions in the first meeting.
Again, we got every employee from each function or business unit to sit as a group with no more than eight people at a table. Then, they used flip charts to facilitate and record their observations and answers to two final questions.
Last Two Questions
- What do our customers want to buy from us?
- How can/do we give them what they want?
We wrapped-up each question with each table reporting back to the entire company what they discussed.
As we wrapped up our second workshop, I had our people to address at their tables one more question, since we would be moving soon to a new location: What barriers or challenges will there be for us at the new location?
The depth of the results from all the discussions to this final question was amazing. We captured excellent ideas as we heard each table report to the whole company about their discussions.
You can use these simple, but powerful eight questions to grow your business!
The key is to:
1) Ask the eight questions listed above, listen, and
2) Involve your entire team in a collaborative effort to find the answers, and therefore, you and your people will grow from being involved in the participative decision-making process.
Have you ever struggled to grow your business? Would you consider involving your entire team as you answer the eight questions above? Please share your comments <here>.
P.S. – I have shared how the ON/IN principle evolved in our business. But, a more logical ordering of the questions would place the last two questions mentioned above as the first two questions for you to consider. Also, I would have added another question after those last two questions: What are the obstacles in our company that keeps us from delivering what the customer wants from us? Do you want all of these questions on a one-sheet printable PDF? Click <here> to download now.