Does it PASS is a question I ask myself every time somebody makes a suggestion to me. It is also a question that I'm trying to get my team to ask before they come to me with suggestions.
What does this question mean and why do I think that it is important?
Does it PASS refers to four different questions that I think need considering in business, every time you make a change or consider an investment.
It stands firstly for PROFITABILITY. What does the proposed change do for profit? Does it increase it/decrease it or have no effect? To calculate this I like to do a partial budget to consider the benefits (extra income and costs saved) and the costs (income lost and extra costs). This usually gives a good indication of the financial viability of the proposal, however it does not tell the full story.
The second thing I like to consider is ABILITY. Does the proposed change make the business easier or harder to run? If it's a tool that makes somebody's life easier (such as a weed cutter we recently purchased) it might be a good investment, even if on the surface, it doesn't look like extra profit will be achieved.
Thirdly - Will the proposal help meet the STANDARDS of the business. Every business has standards. These may be customer requirements or ways of working that help efficiency. If a proposal or change helps meet a standard, even though it doesn't directly improve profitability or ability, it may well be worthwhile.
Finally, is it SAFE. In our business, safety is the number one game. No amount of profitability will be worth a serious accident. Therefore, safety needs to be considered with every change or purchase.
So, there you have it - a short and simple template in which to consider any change or proposal. Next time you are given a suggestion, sit down with the person suggesting it and go through the steps of thinking - Does it PASS?
We are a diversified farming business, with a large dairy herd a number of acres of arable crops and three to four diversified enterprises - Self Storage, Glamping, Fly Fishing and Corporate Events and over the past twelve to eighteen months our business has been on a bit of a journey.
From gently bumbling along, with reasonable prices and enough profit to feed the family we were hit with a significant milk price drop and combined with a couple of other unfortunate financial incidents we found ourselves with ever increasing borrowings. And, as any of you who run businesses know - banks don't like that.
This, combined with a number of unforeseen incidents with staff made us significantly think how we run this business and started us on a journey of learning, being coached, adapting, changing and re-structuring.
It has been a humbling experience of learning just how much we don't know and how much good business practice that we haven't been applying.
Having been through an extensive learning phase, we are now beginning to apply some much better strategies and approaches which, although early days, I believe are just beginning to pay off.
Over the next few weeks, I will outline some of the specifics of what we have done and keep a note in this blog of the impact that it is making and the unforeseen pitfalls that we are bound to fall into.
Advice comes from everywhere, from the papers, from friends and acquaintances, from social media and blogs. Below, for example, are listed the eight things that you should be doing to increase the amount of “flow” in your life.
1) Sleep more
2) Eat real food, mostly plants
3) Move often
4) Drink clean water
5) Make love
6) Be grateful
8) Get outside
I think that they’re all great advice for anyone, but will being given this advice make a difference?
Now, imagine you’re Theresa May, the day after the 2017 election result. Ok, I understand this might not be your first choice of subject but bear with me. As I said, imagine you’re Theresa May, the day after the 2017 election result.
It would be an understatement that things aren’t great for you and you really need to get 'into flow' to work out how you’re going to negotiate with those pesky Unionists. And you’re wondering where on earth did it all go wrong and WTF – how did JC (Jeremy Corbyn) manage to achieve half of what he did?
So, you pick up the phone to your “Flow Advisor” and get this advice.
“Theresa," he says," I advise you to get a good night’s sleep. Make sure you have some real food, perhaps nettle soup for supper and a cup of herbal tea. Do a few yoga stretches to relax then drink a glass of purified water before making love to your husband.
"Be really grateful. After all, JC could have won the election.
"Oh, and by the way – I suggest you unplug a bit. Tomorrow, you’ve got to fly to Brussels to negotiate with Donald Tusk. And, as you know, Donald Trump doesn’t want to come over here anymore – in case he’s seen as more unpopular than you.
"I also advise that you get outside. That’s outside of Number 10 – probably permanently, unless you’re visiting a future prime minister to give them some electioneering advice.”
The question I am pondering is – does receiving advice actually work?
My take on it - I think, like all of us - is that Theresa will only hear the advice that is aligned with her character and frame of mind in the moment.
If she’s a bit of an 'Iron Lady', she'll be taking things all in her stride. In which case she'll be unlikely to listen to any advice. On the other hand, if she really is falling apart, she'll be unlikely to hear or believe any of the positive advice given to her by anyone.
I think that the best any "Flow Advisor" can do in this situation is just help her to see the normality of her experience under the circumstances, whatever that happens to be, then help her get on with the job in hand. Perhaps by making a cup of tea.
That's what our Insight Team is here to do. We won't advise you or console you. What we do is help you gain a perspective where you can see the wood from the trees and to resolve the issues that are relevant to your set of circumstances in that moment. Oh, and we'll make you a cup of tea as well.
If your finding it difficult to pull your team together, you'll be in good company. Although most people aspire to teams and know all the phrases:
"The whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts"
"Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much"
"Teamwork makes the dream work"
"None of us is as smart as all of us"
The truth is that there is no magic formula for pulling a group of individuals together to create an high performance team. There are however some essential basics that really need to be in place to create some kind of chance in the first place.
If you are trying to pull a team together, ask yourself the below questions:
If the answer to the above five questions is "yes", then your on the right lines. If not, focus on getting these things lined up and see what the result is.
Workplace training is a bit like Marmite – some people love it, others loathe it. Still, at least it gets a reaction. Worse, are those who are so ambivalent to improving their skillset that they may as well not bother.
In my experience as a business coach and as someone who runs a diverse business, there are four things that will get people switched on to training and deliver results – fast!
1 Involve your team
The more your team is involved in the whole process, the better engaged they will be. Help them help you to see and agree the aims and the reasons why they are important. Give them as much choice and flexibility as you can in planning how those aims might be achieved and help them see clearly about how their individual roles are crucial in achieving the results.
2 Speak tentatively
You may think that you’re the authority on a subject. However if your team disagrees with you, you might notice a bit of body language, such as crossed arms, tight lips, looking in the other direction. Ultimately, it matters not a hoot what you think. Unless you can achieve an aligned objective with your team, the chances of it being effectively achieved are seriously compromised.
3 Allow Inquiry
People have their own view of the world and need to make sense of things in their own way. Which means it’s important to understand that while they and you may be right about things, the opposite is also true. So, encourage your team to challenge their own assumptions – and yours. Questions such as “Is that really true?” received in the right way, can get somebody to be quite reflective about a belief they may have held for a long time.
4 Be Creative
Learning happens best when people change as a result of seeing something differently. Quite often, getting them out of their normal environment – such as the one here at Meon Springs - fosters this more effectively than banging on to them about something in the normal way.
When I did my training, with Preiser Consultants, one of the elementary lessons that I learnt was, what does a good team look like?
Without knowing what you're aiming for - or identifying the gaps - it is very hard to rectify the problems. Below illustrates the indicators or an unsuccessful organisation compared to a successful one. How does your business shape up?
Gaining insight – seeing things for what they are rather than what you think they are – is a deeply personal thing. After all, each of us is unique – so why shouldn’t our thinking be different? Which is why coaching is difficult to do en masse. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to helping people get to grips with a new approach to viewing a business and how it operates. That said, there are some things that are common to all, such as patterns of thinking.
For instance, imagine you have a pattern of thinking whereby you view a work colleague – let’s call him Michael - with complete contempt. Every time you see him, hear him, or think about him your automatic response is overwhelmingly negative. You think his work is overrated, even shoddy. What’s more, when you go home at night you tell your friends and partner about him. Just the faintest reference to this man – the football team he supports or his interest in motor racing, for example - causes negative thoughts to erupt inside you to the point where they make you ill. Frankly, you wished he were out of your life.
Imagine, if you will, that this pattern of thinking loops on and on in your mind until at some point – one of two things happens. You either have a breakdown. Or you have ‘insight’. And you start to look at things differently.
It could be that it occurs to you that this Michael isn't hated by everyone. He has a mother and father. They must love him. He has a wife and family. They must love him, surely? If nothing else, his pet dog loves him.
And when you think about it a little further you realize that the project he led concerning an improvement to the company sales process was pretty nifty. And it has led to an increase in revenue so, begrudgingly, he can’t be all-bad.
Just that shift in thinking is progress, no?
And if you delve deeper, you might find that what you hate isn’t Michael, but the story you concocted about him. That’s right. What you hate isn’t really Michael, but the story you concocted about him. Think about it.
When you discover insight you realise that this isn’t about other people – it’s about you and how you, in this imaginary example, perceive Michael. When your perception changes, you no longer become so negative whenever you see or hear him. In fact, you can get to a point where the mention of his name means nothing.
By learning how to achieve this level of insight – which can be replicated in every area of your business and personal life – it can have a profound impact on your life and the results you are able to create. And those benefits are not imaginary.
I know what you’re thinking: ‘What the bloody hell is an Insight Break?’ And to be honest, it’s a fair question.
Put simply, it’s a short break in a stunning rural environment, which allows people to clear their heads and develop a way of thinking that helps solve problems and deliver results.
Sounds simple enough. And the best ideas always do. But of course, there’s a little more to it than that.
It’s not just about getting people out of the office and into the Hampshire countryside. It’s not just about being able to stay the night in a luxury shepherd’s hut, which allows you to get close to nature without roughing it. And it’s not just about receiving clear and considered coaching to help you see the wood for the trees. It’s about all those things. And more.
Our Insight breaks naturally support individuals and teams dropping into a state of mind where ‘insight happens’. Once you know how to do it, you don’t just solve problems, you dissolve them. And as a result, goals are achieved, projects completed and money is earned.
On another level, an Insight Break could be described as the point in which you develop a completely new way of thinking that totally transforms the way you look at and experience something. An Insight Break at Meon Springs is when you see something completely differently that has a profound impact on your life and the results you are able to create.