Commercial Strategy

What Crispy Beef can tell you about your team…

It’s easy for organisations to focus on their stars, but without recognising and understanding the value and motivations of every person on the team, it can be hard to recruit and manage people effectively.

Over dinner last week I was talking to a client about his recruitment and people strategy, let’s call him Brian.

Brian’s department headcount was set to expand dramatically over the next few years. He was visibly excited about the prospect of fresh blood into the team and the forecast revenue opportunities.

What concerned me however was the lack of time Brian had spent talking about his existing team, which in their own right were delivering on targets and driving decent growth.

Almost immediately he apologised and began talking about his two stars, how effective and innovative they were as well as their future role in the business.

Whilst this was good to hear, Brian had a fairly large team of around 35 people, and over a 90-minute dinner, he’d spent all of his time talking about only two of his team and a load about people that hadn’t even been found yet.

I challenged Brian by saying that we all have our favourites in our teams and everyone has their star players that will move the business forward. But without a balanced combination of people and roles, his big plans would likely fail.

Brian agreed, but this was nothing new – it’s common sense that if you have a team of people that do nothing but ‘direct’ you’ll get nothing ‘done’.

The problem here though, was that Brian hadn’t really identified, considered or appreciated the types of people – and their roles and motivations – across his business.

I grabbed a napkin and we sketched out a simple model to think about his organisation; here’s what we came up with…

The Crispy Beef Operating Model
The fundamental point of this terribly named model (in honour of our dinner) is to identify and ensure the appropriate distribution of roles across your team, such that you can make more effective hiring and management decisions in relation to your people.

Level of effectiveness:this is all about the extent to which the indivudal contributes to delivering the organisation’s objectives i.e. revenue, quality, output etc.

Level of innovation:highly innovative individuals are not necessarily a good thing, and vice versa. Individuals who deliver low levels of innovation could be described as those in the organisation who focus upon delivering the ‘as-is’, versus those who focus on growth, innovation and expansion opportunities.

Drones:every organisation has them. They come to work, do their job to low or moderate quality/effect and leave. It’s not necessarily about competency or intelligence, but what they prioritise in life and in work.

Drivers:these are the ‘rocks’ within the team – these guys are dependable, driven, produce high quality work and form the foundation of the operation. They work with disruptors and drones, receiving and delivering clear instruction respectively.Dreamers:can be described as the wannabe disruptors, they see opportunities for change and innovation across the business, but whose ideas and activities fail to successfully materialise or yield sufficient return.

Disruptors:these are typically described as the ‘stars’ – their work challenges the as-is and their innovation successfully grows the organisation (and particularly its revenue and/or profit) in the market.What does it all mean?
Using our defined axis, we began to plot where the individuals in Brian’s team sat, we found some interesting things:

1. People management must be tailored
Brian was totally focused on his disruptors, these were the people who aligned most with his personal interests: change, growth, innovation and could also deliver the results that the organisation needed. In order to ensure everyone was engaged and operating optimally Brian realised he needed people in all quadrants (not just disruptors), and that he also needed to understand and treat each quadrant appropriately.

For example, he could give the dreamers coaching rather than criticism for (for failing to hit targets) and potentially turn them into disruptors. Equally, he shouldn’t lecture the drones on strategy, but instead engage them on matters which were meaningful to them.

2. Drivers are the enablers of success
Brian’s organisation was full of drones, dreamers and a few disruptors, but there were limited drivers who could deliver on the as-is effectively. We realised that without drivers, the disruptors wouldn’t have the opportunity to do what they do.

Equally, the drivers tended to ‘manage’ the drones, and a lack of drivers in Brian’s team had contributed to a lack of direction and productivity across the drone community.

3. Drones require direction but must not be disrespected
Initially we considered whether ‘drones’ was an offensive term, but when we plotted the people in his team, we realised that they formed the bulk of his team. They were the engine room of the organisation, without whom he, and his team would be nothing.

Yes, they needed direction – but with the right coaching and incentives – he could improve productivity as well as establish a pathway for potential new drivers.

In summary

Using the Crispy Beef Operating Model we can begin to understand our teams from a different perspective. Individual quadrants are not inherently good or bad, but require appropriate sizing and management both of the quadrant as a whole, and its constituent individuals.

In addition, the model should help challenge management to consider the motivations and perceptions of their staff in order to increase individual productivity and engagement.

For example:

  • Identify the drone who wants to be a driver and show them a pathway;
  • Coach the dreamers to identify and address why their ideas aren’t getting off the ground, or understand where talent needs to be reassigned or deployed elsewhere;
  • Understand which drones are happy doing what they’re doing, and how the organisation can increase job satisfaction and output quality; and,
  • Ensure that the concerned disruptors feel supported and are sufficiently connected to the rest of the organisation.


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