What can I do to make you a success?


One of the characteristics of the motor industry is that we operate in silos. There is the manufacturer and retailer demarcation and then within the retail operation we have the endless separation of new car sales, used car operations, after-sales, parts, rental, body shop and any other activity that is deemed to fall within our sphere of activity. In group head offices finance, HR, operations, marketing and now digital all seem to have their own defined territory. Everyone is supposedly working towards the same goal and objectives.

The problem is that in most organisations each division and department has a manager who themselves has targets to hit, upon which bonuses and promotion are based. The focus is on performance and efficient working in the department often driven by a hardnosed aggressive management style.

It is interesting when you look around at some of the most important areas in society such as security and policing, when failures occur it’s because key information has not been passed between different agencies. Everyone would appear to be working towards the same end but in silos and as a result mistakes get made.

One of the more interesting ideas that challenges this has come out of the Arbinger Institute in the form their concept of the ‘Outward Mindset.’ I listened to a talk by one of their people at a dealer training event last year and was taken aback by one of their ideas.

When organisations bring their departments together for a meeting there is usually a latent underpinning of competition in the room. Who has done well this last quarter? Who has been given the go ahead to increase their head count? Who is at the bottom of the barrel and underperforming?

The Arbinger speaker suggested that things should be turned on their head. If everyone believed that they wanted the company as a whole to succeed; is having rivalry between departments the best way of doing things?  

What if the approach was taken whereby the question is asked how could my department help another department be successful? What could I do that would enhance the chance of success for somebody else? The conversation could then be reversed, and the question asked what could they do to help us? This level of interconnectivity changes the whole approach. It is a completely different mindset with people looking for the success of others so that they in turn could be successful.

The next question builds on this by asking what is it that I or my department is doing that stops or hinders you from being more successful? Are there things that I or my department is doing that is restricting your ability to be succeed? What is it that we do that annoys you?

If the mindset changes, the approach to business changes, and people start to build an organisation that is self-supporting. This would create an organisation that isn’t based on back biting, gaslighting or trying to outdo each other internally, but is focussed only on the competition which is outside of it, not within it.