10 Dec The Strength of Your Organization
In 2013, our company opened the largest indoor rock climbing gym in Texas, inSPIRE Rock. The ropes that we hang for climbers are vitally important and must be strong. Also in 2013, Dan Cathy (president and CEO of Chick-Fil-A) compared his company to a rope, which intrigued me. His spot-on observations really highlight the importance of team development.
Dan focused on the three contributing factors to a rope’s “tensile strength” – the amount of force or weight needed to break a rope. He took those three factors and related them to important aspects that contribute to an organization’s strength.
- Material: The first contributing factor is the material chosen to create the rope. A rope made out of grass will have a different strength than one made out of polypropylene. The rope’s ultimate purpose and desired strength guides the material selection. Similarly, the people that make up your organization will make a big difference. Choose your people carefully, based on your needs and their strengths.
- Alignment: Secondly, the chosen material needs to be “aligned and pointing in the same direction.” For your organization to be strong, its people need to be aligned with its vision. When someone is out of alignment, his or her efforts are spent on the wrong pursuits. Communicate your organization’s mission, and make sure your people are aligned with it.
- Network: Dan calls the third factor network. I call it team development. Once a rope’s materials have been chosen and aligned in the same direction, the network that is used to weave the materials is crucial. This is more than just having the right people who are onboard with the organization’s vision. It is about joining everyone together into a team that can accomplish that vision. Norms must be established so the group knows how to, for example, communicate, resolve conflict, and plan together. They need to trust each other to do their part and execute the plan. Without weaving the team together, it will be weak and ineffective.
The strength of a rope is imperative to the safety and success of any climber. A climber must always inspect the rope to make sure it is ready to do its job and hasn’t been damaged. Likewise, it is important to assess the above aspects of your organization on a regular basis. A lack of team development can really damage the strength of your organization. The right people working towards the same vision but not working as an effective team will struggle. Spending time to develop them into an effective team will move your organization towards the top!