Knowing the numbers is only valuable if you do something with this knowledge. I had this concept I internalized of never being content. In our annual Award’s Banquet, I took pride in sharing with the entire company and in front of their spouses and guests, all of the great accomplishments we had in the prior calendar year. We would be #1 in this and #1 in that. It got them all fired up to repeat it again in the new year. But imagine a scenario whereas the leader you say, “I’m #1, so I can finally not work so hard.” Believe it or not, some companies are this way. Some leaders can’t even tell you how they became #1. For me, I was never content. Being #1 is scarier than being #2. There is pressure to not lose it. And the leader that embraces this idea, will likely find ways to improve against themselves, year after year, and just continue to create separation as the years go by.
I often think about the drivers in NASCAR. In many races, the leader often is in that position for several laps. Sometimes over 100 laps. If that driver isn’t constantly thinking about how to improve and stay #1 they can get passed on the track. The drivers often rely on data, like their own lap times and the lap times of the competitor in the #2 and maybe even #3 position. As long as the driver can continue to improve their own lap time, or at least improve above the lap time of the cars behind him / her, then they will win the race.
In watching the Tour de France, it never ceases to amaze me that the rider who is #1 and is constantly looking back at the rider behind him, eventually gets passed. Instead of focusing on improving yourself and watching the numbers that your team occasionally shares from the side of the road or with a passing car and a chalk board with data. Basically, I am just trying to share the extreme importance of knowing what your competitors are doing. Are they improving in certain areas, or not? You must have a pulse on your competitors and your industry trends. With us, we have five offices, and so we do track even each individual location against its top 6-10 competitors.
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