As I write this England’s Ashes side have just demolished Australia for 60 runs and are making their mark on the batting. It’s made for joyous listening but also gives me a perfect intro for this article on consistency. For any sporting side to win a championship series (FA Cup, The Ashes, The Seven Nations, etc) the name of the game has to be consistency – the ability to do the same things well time and time again. But it’s also about the ability to recover from a bad game that you scrape through, pick yourself up and get things back on track just as England are doing following their humiliating defeat at Lords in the second Test.
And it’s the same in business, isn’t it? Every organisation goes through lean times, where the work seems to dry up, new clients seems few and far between and you’re running around being a busy fool. It’s easy to get really dispirited during those times and to start making changes in the way you do things in order to try to get back on track. I’ve done it, and I’m sure you have to (or at least been tempted to). It’s certainly not wrong to assess where things are at and try to make changes where appropriate, but these changes can often be knee-jerk reactions and not good for the long-term health of you or your organisation. Just because things are difficult does not necessarily mean that systems or processes are broken or need changing. Consistency is key.
When we went through a difficult period a while ago, someone far wiser than I gave me this advice: “I know things are hard right now but nothing is broken. Keep on doing the things you do well. Play to your strengths. Stay focussed. Have faith in your abilities and the team you have around you.” And so I stayed consistent in everything I was doing and changed nothing, knowing that if I kept true to my values and the way I did things, it would work out OK. And you know what? Sure enough, they did. It was only after we had come out the other side that we made (with the benefit f hindsight) a few minor tweaks that has made us more efficient and better able to cope when the next tough time comes.