Business 101 - Does the "Special Sauce" of Business Exist or Simply a Myth?

Business owners and entrepreneurs the world over are inundated with hundreds upon thousands of messages of methodologies and theories of how if they implement "X-Y-Z" within their individual business model, that they will reap the rewards of another's timely business success.  I have a tendency to look at these instances as "motivating learning moments," but not necessarily the key to my particular brand of business success.  Many factors go into why some businesses succeed, and at the same time, others may fail... Things like:

  • Does a company's leadership help or hinder business progression? (Do they keep focused on avoiding bottleneck moments and roadblocks that increase the possibility of creating business detractors)
  • Are all internal personnel properly prepared, trained and vetted for their specific daily duties, responsibilities and tasks? (always highlight that investing in your people is the lifeblood and mainstay of your business)
  • Are all team members aware of your company's overall expectations, goals & mission? (creating a single vision allows all to reach for the same common goal)

We are all hoping for that "Special Sauce" moment, where we create something so great and powerful that it becomes the next "needful thing" for our culture and society. You may call me a skeptic, but I think the simple truth is there's no such thing as "Special Sauce" in business.  I think one makes their your own business luck by the daily decisions they make (both large and small), the talent pool that they hire and surround themselves with to perform tasks (always looking for passionate people --- the ones who, regardless of what they do, people flock to, due to their positive energy) and the willingness to change and adapt to best meet and exceed your customer's expectations.  After all, the clients are the ones that purchase your product and/or service.  With every purchase they make, they outwardly convey to you that they believe in you and your business's potential.  Consumer's feedback is the most powerful external tool in establishing the direction to which one should steer their business. Most companies do not utilize this powerful resource and yet, it can be the difference of being on target with your consumer base (those who are buying) or not.  One should never make business decisions in a dart-board fashion. It becomes too costly, especially for small, emerging businesses.  Instead, consider current-day technology toolsets that can assist your business in defining and redefining who they are and what they need to accomplish (which is based on established company goals and expectations).  

Here's a great exercise to be executed during business hours on gaining a better understanding and perspective on your internal businesses' goals and expectations.  I call it the "Brainstorm Debrief."  The beauty behind this exercise is that it helps to reveal current day strengths and roadblocks within your business (by the individuals involved in the daily process), highlight individuals and success practices within your business (organically displaying your business mentors), and commit to establishing a gameplan of how to overcome challenges and roadblocks to become an even more successful business.

The "BrainStorm Debrief" Exercise

Timeframe: (can vary depending on the size of the organization, but make sure you plan ample amount of time for all employees to feel they had time to contribute in)

Tools Needed: 

Poster size Sticky Post-It Notes & Markers (I personally prefer using 1 green marker and 1 red marker) --- Have each wall in the room represent a different area of responsibility or department (for example, sales employees should be grouped together and then accounting should all be grouped together, etc..)


So the point of this exercise is to take a block of company time to have all departments within your organization gather in one place and provide perspective of the "Triumphs" & "Challenges" that they are incurring in their day-to-day job in areas of their responsibility. Showing employees that leadership cares about their daily dealings, can also infuse a feeling of empowerment throughout your employee base to be a part of the solution in conflicts/issues within the organization.  Employees become stronger in handling difficult situations as they deal with these areas on the highest frequency. Once observed, they can be reviewed and amended for better overall outcomes. Fostering happier employees creates happier customer experiences...

Company Leadership/Management should allow employees to play the active role in this exercise and they (leaders and managers) should play a secondary role of guiding them on providing their own feedback. Focus on being objective on revealing what we do well as a company as well as what we need to work on to become a stronger organization. (PROMOTE TEAMWORK).

Rules of Gameplan:

Have each department or area of job responsibility group together in a room,

Under a time allotment, instruct all parties to the purpose of the exercise which is to expose what we each individually see as what we (as a business/company) do well on a daily basis as well as what we need to work on to become better at what we do.

Preface to everyone that it is ok to call out or showcase individuals who display excellence in their job role within your organization (creating mentors organically within your organization, without the roadblock of business politics

and the possibility of leadership favoritism, as it is colleagues recognizing fellow colleagues for a job well done --- it aids an organization in Team Building without external interference --- also can deter company turnover or churn).  

Promotes an atmosphere that every employee is valued within their workplace --- and their feedback matters!

You are also displaying "In Real Time" how you collectively "Inspect What You Expect" as a company whole.


The large Poster-size Post-It should contain the following: (make sure each group designates one "Notes Recorder" (preferably, someone with legible handwriting who doesn't mind handling the role...)

(using green marker) - top part of the page should contain what the department "Triumphs in" what they do well... (can call out individuals as well as processes that work well within the organization ---

(using red marker) - bottom of the page should contain what the department members see as their challenges/roadblocks or bottlenecks and what they need to improve upon (keep dialogue away from calling out individuals in a negative fashion but rather focus on what processes are not working or require evaluation and further improvement).

Again, make sure to give ample time for the groups all to complete (it may be 30 to 40 minutes in length --- use the size of the group as your guide and inquire from time to time if all groups are done with this exercise before proceeding)


Once every group has completed.

Have each group designate a spokesperson to present their overall findings to the rest of your organization. Leadership should just play the role of "listener or observer" and allow each group to present their materials.  

Make sure you keep the dialogue on the track of being constructive in nature and let each group know at the end that you appreciate their contributions.  (Promote Goodwill and Appreciation for Feedback --- Showing You & Leadership Outwardly Care)

Post all of the Poster size Post-It findings in a company communal area of your business (like your company breakroom or water cooler space) so everyone has time to review in their own leisure time. It can serve as a training moment for each individual to evaluate not only their department experience, but also what triumphs and challenges exist around them).  If your business is virtual, have a member of leadership team create a spreadsheet of post-it findings to be e-mailed out to the company as a whole (make sure all employees are on the distribution list) and perhaps provide quarterly followup/updates to areas that you've been able to overcome based on this exercise.

To increase your companies awareness, attempt to do this once a year to make sure that Leaderships findings of issues behind the scenes matches up with the findings of the day-to-day employee (never want management to be out-of-touch with the reality of business dealings --- Stay in The Know.)

A business can only improve on what they are willing to acknowledge and act upon improvements that are revealed. 

Have you or your business ever attempted an exercise like this and what was the outcome?  

What do you or your business do to review your processes for review and establishing areas of improvements?

I'd love to hear from you!

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