Raising the bar
It's been a week for breaking records in the fields of sport and education; more young people than ever achieved places at Scottish Universities following successful Higher results and of course at the Olympic Games in Rio – we watched in awe as Adam Peaty smashed his own personal best at the heats, before going on to set a new world record in the final. The week ended with Katherine Granger becoming the most decorated female UK Olympian in history.
It's tempting to assume that in linear sports such as running and swimming, getting better means doing more and more of the same activity; in Adam Peaty's case it turns out that his prowess was in no small way attributable to his Superman push-ups, where he raises his whole body off the ground and claps his hands before touching down – one for the office workout!
If there's a business lesson to be learned from this, it must be that we need to think out of the box and innovate even when we are looking for improvements to the same things we are doing. Reducing failure demand in customer service is a good example, where reducing handling times to get through increasing volume will simply not do, and is totally counter productive; instead an enterprise-wide approach is needed to solve the issue at source rather than 'sticky plaster' tactics.
My favourite sport is gymnastics and the GB team did really well this year, despite a few setbacks. Raising the bar in this sport means excelling across all four gruelling activities, a classic case of 'it only works if it all works'.
Ellie Downie showed tremendous bravery and commitment to her team by bouncing back after a sickening fall where we could almost hear her neck crunch; adamant that she could go on to do her vault. She did a fantastic vault and the team secured valuable points. She also slipped off the beam; but was back on so quickly with a flawless rest of performance. The team overall finished fourth narrowly missing bronze. It could have been so different had she dwelled on her bad luck and given up hope of any medals, the team would surely have slipped several places.
How do we handle setbacks in business? Do we ruminate on who is to blame, indulge in laborious investigations, resulting in more slippage or do we quickly get back on the beam with a determination to be the best, accepting that we will have to explore what went wrong but not at the expense of the current pressing activity? It's hard to keep going when setbacks occur but in our complicated service world setbacks are inevitable.
Last week we congratulated two organisations in our network committed to raising the bar in customer service and were awarded CCA Global Standard©; Student Loans and Journeycall, joining a growing body of organisations across all sectors of the economy who realise that raising the bar is not about one off initiatives but putting continuous improvement into the DNA of the enterprise.
We’re having our own equivalent of the Olympic medal ceremony for those organisations who progressively push the boundaries in the form of a Civic Reception in Glasgow hosted by the Lord Provost and Glasgow City Council on 16 November – a chance for the stars in our industry to shine and celebrate their success and hard work on striving to be the best they can be.