As I have sweated past play-off series’ involving my favorite hockey team, the Anaheim Ducks,and my favorite basketball team, the LA Lakers, I am once again reminded of my simplified definition of a successful enterprise:

A group of enthusiastic, positive, motivated, happy people,
working together, with a positive, can-do attitude,
on behalf of a future they have all committed themselves to.

There is no place that this formula for success is more evident than in the field of sports. It is rarely, if ever, the team with the best talent that makes it all the way to the championship, unless they satisfy the criteria expressed above. The Boston Celtics of the 70s, the LA Lakers of the 80sand the Chicago Bulls of the 90s all had star players that were more interested in the success of the team and who were unselfish and who made sure that people worked together that was really the secret of their success.

One year I was really amazed when two football teams, in only their second year of existence,made it to the conference finals. Was it because they had the best talent? Clearly not. In hockey,the same thing happened with the Florida Panthers, who made it all the way to the Stanley Cup finals in only their third year of existence. In all of these cases, the coach was able to forge the players into an enthusiastic group of selfless people, who were willing to commit to working together on behalf of the goal that was set out for them.

Everything I have said so far applies to any business. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that almost every organization I have encountered does not satisfy the definition of a successful enterprise. There are a number of reasons why they do not.

Working Together
It is rarely, if ever the case, that when I start working with a company I find the people in the company working together. It is a fact of human nature that everybody has their own ideas,their own opinions, their own points of view and their own agendas. So far, no problem. What creates the problem is that human beings, by their very nature, want to be right. So rather than recognizing that their points of view, their ideas, their commitments, their agendas are simply theirs, and respecting that other people have their own points of view and agendas, and that nobody is right and that the objective is always to come up with an agenda which works for everybody leaving no one out, the name of the game seems to be for everyone to promote their point of view and defend it to the death. They try to convince everyone that their point of view is the right point of view and that everybody else's point of view is the wrong point of view. Sound familiar?

Often, when I attend management meetings with a company that I am about to work with, it looks like a meeting between adversaries rather than people in the same company. I used to be startled by this occurrence, but now it is so common place that I am not. I am often left wanting to say, “Don’t you all understand that you are all on the same side?”

I recently had an insight about myself which explains this phenomenon. I am an intelligent person, I have carefully thought out everything that I do and have come up with what I think is the best way to do everything that I do. When I see somebody else doing what I do in a different way, my natural reaction is to think that they are not as smart as me or as thoughtful as me,because if they were, after all, since I have come up with what I think is the best way to do this,they would do it my way. When I saw that I operated this way, I really had to laugh. The fact is everybody functions the same way. Everybody does things the way they do them, and everybody thinks that the way they do them is the best way. It isn’t. What we need to learn to do is to learn from each other and not be so committed to our point of view.

If companies are to be as successful as they can be, the players are going to have to put their egos aside, just like a professional athlete needs to learn to do, and start considering what the best interests of the team are. A professional athlete knows that they have to sacrifice what they think is best for them for what everybody else considers to be what is best for the team. People in business are going to have to learn the same lesson and start working together if they want to reap the benefits that are available to a company that works as a team.

A Positive, Can-do Attitude
The importance of a positive, can-do attitude can not be emphasized enough. When a company is not achieving the success that it would like, the second thing to examine is the attitude of the management and staff. You will almost always find that the predominant way people in the company think is based on fear and lack. Because people come from a position of fear and lack,the name of the game is to work hard, accompanied with a lot of effort and struggle, to overcome the sense of lack. But here is the irony. The purpose of all that hard work is seemingly to create abundance. But when your premise is a state of fear and lack, you will never produce abundance.We truly live in a world of cause and effect. You just can’t get anyplace other than where you start from. If you start from a place of fear and lack, you will simply continue to produce fear and lack. We become like the proverbial hamster on a treadmill, working harder and harder and not ever getting closer to the desired end. Does this too sound familiar?

The Only Way To Go
Being optimistic, being positive, having faith and a can-do attitude is the only way to go,really. It is the secret of success of every truly successful enterprise. You cannot produce abundance with scarcity thinking. You can only be truly abundant if you are willing to come from abundance and coming from abundance means trusting that there will always be enough and learning to expect the best. Learning to expect the best will dramatically increase the number of times that the best occurs.

Where Are We Going?
The third reason that companies do not meet the criteria for a successful enterprise is that the individual members of the company do not align on a vision for the future that they are committed to. This is really another part of the first problem. Because everyone has their own agenda, which they are committed to being right about, the group almost never gets to the point of aligning on a vision for the future. The point to be made here is that successful organizations typically have the following in place:

1. A purpose or mission statement. A purpose statement defines the organization, states its values and literally defines the organization, what it stands for and where it is going.

2. A strategic vision. This is a clear and detailed picture of where everyone would like the company to be at sometime in the future. I usually pick 5 years since it is far enough in the future to allow people to speculate as to what is possible, but near enough to have them have it be real.

3. A set of specific commitments, objectives and goals for the next 12 months. After we get a company to be clear about its mission and its strategic vision, the next steps are to set forth a specific set of commitments, objectives and goals for the next year, turn the commitments,objectives and goals into projects, identify project leaders and project teams and get everybody working on behalf of the projects. This step alone goes a long way in forging the partners as well as everybody else into a group of people that satisfy the definition of a successful enterprise.

I can’t begin to tell you how many organizations I have encountered in the last 20+ years where the above were indeed missing. Almost always, the company was trying to solve the problems they were experiencing by coming up with marketing plans. It just doesn’t work. It usually took a bit of time, perhaps a few months, to forge the management team members into a team of people working together with a positive, can-do attitude on behalf of a future that they all committed themselves to. In every case, when that was accomplished, the company literally took off like a rocket. Work started pouring in the door, money started to flow and the problems people were experiencing quickly dissipated.

As you watch the hockey and basketball play-offs, or any other sporting event, take a moment to ask yourself: Do you see the level of teamwork in your office that you see on the court? Are the people in your company working together like the people you see on the court? Are the people in your company having fun like the players in the game? Is there the clarity of vision in your company as you see on the court? Are the people in your company as enthusiastic and motivated as those in the game? If not, you should get a clear picture of the work you need to do.

Author's Bio: 

Scott Hunter, author, speaker and industry leader, helps people GET UNSTUCK.
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