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Edition 277 – City of Churches

Recently,  I was in Adelaide for a number of business meetings. It had been 14 years since I’d headed to the City of Churches and it remains one of my favourite cities in Australia.

When I travel, I like to walk the locations I’m staying. Adelaide was no exception, itself being a great walking city. There was an ulterior motive, though, to my walk. Being a big Supercars fan, I wanted to walk the former street circuit that was also once the home of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.

What struck me about the street circuit were the elevation changes along the way. The infamous Turn 8 has an incline leading into one of the fastest corners in Australian motor sport. Other stretches of the circuit, which I’ve viewed thousands of laps of over the years, struck me for their narrowness or, for instance, how sharp and pronounced the Senna Chicane really is. I gained a new awareness of the circuit simply by walking it on a cool Saturday morning.

The same applies for owners in business. When businesses climb to a certain level, the owners are less on site or less in operations. Whilst they sit at their corporate desks and wander from meeting to meeting, they lose sight of how their business actually functions, in reality.

One of my great clients looks after matters for a large retail corporate. Every now and then, my client is called in to tidy up the retail state of affairs prior to the CEO, a very public figure, paying a visit. In other words, the stores are told, in advance, when the CEO is coming so they have time to freshen up around the place. What’s the point? If the CEO is viewing a sanitised version of their business, they’re not seeing the business for what it really is.

It’s becoming evident to me that my business owner clients that get out and about and view their business from the operations level, and step away from the C-Suite, truly understand:

  1. What is happening in the business in real time?
  2. How employees are interacting with clients – either directly or indirectly.
  3. What the operations side of the business looks like from the eyes of someone who isn’t sitting in it, every day.
  4. Where the areas of opportunity sit.
  5. Where the areas of risk, are.

Conversely, some businesses that aren’t travelling so hot right now have owners and CEOs who never leave their desks and have something akin to an opaque view of the business.

When was the last time you walked the floor? When did you last pay a visit to site to see what your staff, wearing your uniforms, were doing? You just might discover the pace and the agility of your business doesn’t match the level of engineering you’ve invested in it. 

For the best impression of what goes on when you’re not there, turn up unannounced. That way, you’ll see the unvarnished view of your business –  good, bad or indifferent.