The Art of Working to a Common Goal

‘Strike while the iron is hot.’

Traditional Proverb

Case study: Staples, the office supplies retailer, had fallen from being a market leader to only 1/3 of the new market leader’s size. In comes the new guy, John Wilson, who had a fantastic reputation for fixing organisational ills. In no time, Wilson ramrodded through much needed change – he was, as one colleague described him, an ‘in-your-face kind of guy’. Initially what Wilson delivered hit the spot and revenues nearly quadrupled over the next four years. Yet, even as Staples continued to grow, profitability dropped. In comes another new guy, Basil Anderson, who focused his expertise on reducing costs and targeting opportunities based on profitability rather than on contribution to revenue stream. Finally, during the next five years net profit also increased significantly and so last, Staples was ‘fixed’.

Common Goal

Take Away: Imagine how much faster the situation might have improved if Wilson and Anderson had been brought in at the same time and encouraged to work together to achieve a common goal?

Application: In any partnership, be it business or personal, everyone is working towards some common goal. The overall situation can be expected to improve faster and more economically through compromise, mutual consideration, and comradeship rather than through any single member of the partnership taking action alone.

  • What’s the goal?
  • What’s the action plan?
  • What resources do you need to make it happen?

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