City Cruises

A tasty bit of advice: Why all businesses should think more about PIES

By Neil Bradbrook, MD of Ahead Business Consulting

As a Lancashire lad, it would be strange if I were not a fan – not to say an aficionado – of pies; I remember many a happy moment munching on a steak pudding from Greenhalgh’s of Bolton.

But, while I am happy to make the case for pastry, so to speak, I never realised that PIES would become such an important factor in my later business life.

Because PIES is an acronym – Plan, Implement, Engage, Succeed – which, if adopted across a business, can make all the difference between having a clear purpose and achieving your desired outcome, and simply living in hope.

Let’s explore each ingredient a bit more.

PLANNING. A defined strategy sets out the direction of travel. Without a strategy, businesses and leaders tend to fall into the trap of trying to chase everything and be everything to everyone.  In trying to do too much, they invariably fail – or, at best, are average.

And in many ways, the value of a plan is embedded in the act of planning itself. The military have a dictum that “No plan survives contact with the enemy”.  It is an inescapable fact that things change, throwing the best laid plans into disarray.

But, if you have put time, effort and expertise into the act of planning, then you are better positioned to understand the key elements and the interdependencies, allowing you to adjust and make the right decisions to keep moving forward.

IMPLEMENTATION. This is the effective delivery of change, once the necessary changes have been identified and defined. People will resist change – they are human, after all – but businesses must continually adapt or fall by the wayside. As Benjamin Franklin said: “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.”

It can feel daunting to embark on a programme of change, but small steps can take you a long way. Here are three key things to remember:

  • Make sure everything you do is based around the customer’s needs – would they choose that change if they had a choice?
  • Keep your focus on the end outcomes, not the process of getting there.
  • Remember that change only happens with the people – not when it is imposed on them.

And all aspects of the programme must be anticipated and taken into account to avoid the danger of unintended consequences – such as when Transport Scotland ordered a ferry for the Western Isles which it turned out was too big for the pier at Skye, necessitating a £23 million upgrade.

ENGAGEMENT We all know how important our people are. Every leader, if quizzed, will say people are the biggest asset. Yet so many don’t invest in them, don’t truly consider their needs, or even treat them as replaceable tools.

I have spent a lot of time helping leaders create a culture of high-performance and it all stems from engagement. Engagement in turn comes from empowerment, communication, meaning and trust. This takes time and effort, and we need to listen to our employees and adapt.

Most leaders want to do these things in principle, but it is never prioritised enough, so other things get in the way. Make your people your number one priority.

A highly engaged workforce is 20% more productive. But they are also more proactive, will share great ideas and engage your customers like nothing else. In short, they will take your business to heights you didn’t believe were possible.

SUCCESS. The reward for planning, implementing and engaging with clarity, foresight and determination.

In fact, you could almost call it the gravy on the PIE.