Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?

Posted by Callum Vallance-Poole, on April 14, 2022.

We get our whole team together and have a sales meeting once every month. Each month’s meeting follows the same agenda, which is filled with typical things like; figures from the previous month, top customer list, build-on-successes from previous month (i.e. what went well that we can replicate) and so on. But in the middle of the agenda, I think it’s point 4, is: ‘Matt’s monthly focus bit’. This is my section that I change every month and I always try to find something new for the team to focus on for the month ahead.

Something that’s going to lead to improvements in our business. In our March sales meeting my bit was about ‘World Class Customer Service’, which you’ll read about in more detail in one of our later articles if you keep reading! But I want to share with you the subject I introduced in our sales meeting back in November last year. My presentation simply showed; WIMTBGF? on the screen.

I then played an audio file for the team that lasted around an hour. It was a recording from a talk that Olympic Gold Medallist Ben Hunt-Davis did a couple of years ago. The subject of the talk is; Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Some of you may be familiar with it. It’s now a very popular book and many businesses have employed the services of Ben and his team to provide training and strategy sessions to implement his method of thinking. For now though, we just listened…

For just over an hour, everyone was engaged in Ben’s talk. As he shared the experience of the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, he talked about the lead up to the games and the preparation of the men’s 8 rowing team of which he was part. In a nutshell, with every decision, every action, every bit of preparation, when deciding how to train, how to rest, what to do in their free time, and in every aspect of their lives, they asked themselves one question before doing anything. Will it make the boat go faster? If the answer was NO, then they didn’t do it. The whole team bought into the philosophy and ultimately it determined their outcome as gold medal winners, which followed years and years of coming in the top 10 but never in the top spot.

So, although this exact question doesn’t really relate to the successful growing of our business, we still decided back in November to use it as our metaphor. Our office now has photos up of all sorts of water sports and the question, in big bold print on the wall:

WILL IT MAKE THE BOAT GO FASTER? We ask ourselves this question in most sales meetings. When we’re making decisions on how to do something, or whether to change something, or what an individual should do or one of our teams should do, we’re always asking ourselves ‘will it make the boat go faster?’. And just like Ben & his team, if the answer is NO then we don’t do it. We decide what will make the boat go faster and we do that instead!

Following five months of using this to question our actions, and ourselves, it is clear to see that it is helping. Everyone is more accountable, the whole team is thinking more before taking action. We’re questioning everything and making sure it is the right thing to do before we do it. I hope that some of you will have noticed the difference; we’ve certainly received some feedback from customers who have noticed improvements since last November. This is one of several things that we’ve worked on over the past few months but it’s a ‘biggy’. Every single action we take as individuals and as a team are now done after deciding that it will make our boat go faster. It’s a strategy that’s working well for us and maybe it’s something worth you considering for you and/or your business?

Marketing Coordinator - Based at our UK HQ in Banbury, Oxfordshire, Callum is responsible for promoting Water Management Systems, Attenuation Tanks, Treatment Plants, Rainwater Harvesting Systems and more!