Consistently Getting the Basics Right and the BBC Reith Lectures.

AtulThis week I was reviewing a very successful operations leader.  A year ago he was new to operations and during his 12 months in the role he has vastly increased productivity, reduced waste and engendered the good will of his team of more than 100.  He has achieved more than the four previous incumbents had achieved over many years.

Modestly he put his success down to ‘consistently getting the basics right’.

This simple and challenging ethos appealed to me.  We see many leadership fashions come and go which is great stimulation and the best leaders ‘consistently get the basics right’.  They do this week after week and month after month; leading by example, developing mutual aspirations and developing their team to deliver.

By coincidence on this theme of ‘consistently getting the basics right’, I was transfixed listening to a Reith lecture on the radio.  Harvard surgeon and writer Dr Atul Gawande told a compelling story about how a 3 year old girl had drowned and was brought back to life.  What amazed him about this case was of all the things that could have gone wrong, the team ‘consistently got the basics right’.  He expanded on this theme with many medical examples where the basics were not right and the terrible cost of this inadequacy.  In his research and subsequent recommendations, hundreds of lives had been saved.  Originally he thought the barrier to surgeons and their teams consistently getting the basics right was technical innovation, it turned out to be oversight and arrogance!

If you have 15 valuable minutes and are prepared to hear the consequence of ‘consistently getting the basics right’, I strongly recommend listening to the lecture on the BBC iPlayer. (Episode 2 of 4)

This provides a real insight into engaging leadership.