MAX 2016 – Ken Way: Moving your business from good to great

Pete Roythorne

Breaking with tradition, Day 2’s keynote speaker came on after lunch. Ken Way is a sports psychologist who worked with last year’s unlikely UK Premier League football winners Leicester City, as well as with Alex Thompson who is currently sailing round the world in the non-stop in a solo race, the Vendée Globe.

Ken1.jpgKen’s presentation focussed on some of the techniques that can be employed by MSPs to ensure their businesses are operating at peak performance. You don’t need to look far to see how strongly business and sport are interlinked, there are some great models used within sports that your business can really benefit from. Ken shared some of these models with the audience and looked at how these can help your business succeed.

Ken highlighted two key phrases in his opening; “Good is the enemy of great” and “Good enough isn’t”.

graph.jpgTo illustrate his ideas Ken asked the audience members to consider where they lay on a graph that mapped mental state against proactive mindset on a sliding scale of positive to negative. This was then divided into colour-coded quadrants (see picture) varying from low energy, low positivity (Spectators) to high-energy, high positivity (Champions).

He then explained that we needed to develop strategies to help move us into the Champions zone rather than waiting for something to lever us out of a lower zone. To motivate teams and individuals we need to understand what gets them going. 

Ken warned that the key focus has to be on eliminating Terrorists, who have high energy but low mindset as they can be very disruptive. We also learn how to build up positivity to move them into the Champions zone.

One of the key factors he highlighted as a way to move to the Champions was to build team spirit – or team cohesion. This breaks down into task cohesion and social cohesion. Many believe that task cohesion is vital and social cohesion is a nice to have. However, referring back to his work with Leicester City Ken said that when you have exquisite social cohesion something amazing happens: it lifts task cohesion, as people are prepared to go the extra mile.

To further illustrate this he introduced the idea of the Gallop Q12 – 12 questions designed to help you measure employee engagement. This model introduces the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Intrinsic being “I do it because I love it”, extrinsic being “I do it for a specific purpose”. When you have exquisite social cohesion Ken explained that it started to operate like an intrinsic motivator.

happiness.jpgHe then went on to introduce the ideas of Harvard Professor Shawn Achor, who studied how happiness breeds success – check out his Ted Talk here. Happiness and positivity needs to be at the heart of everything you do.

Moving on from this he raised the subject of “Goals”. We’ve all heard of Smart goals, but they hardly energise those involved. Goals in sports psychology break down into a pyramid of Outcome goals, Performance goals and Process goals. We should not spend too much time focusing on the Outcome goals as this detracts from what we need to do to get to our performance goals, which is what you want to deliver to the conscious mind. 

He used the examples of the special forces who are trained to focus on Process goals when in dangerous situations. These goals can be re-evaluated on a cycle of just minutes as they focus on getting through really challenging situations. 

He summed up his advice for teams in three key points:

  • Develop proactive mindset
  • Develop social cohesion and build happiness
  • Focus on Process goals

All this helps lead to a building up of Marginal Gains, some of the most potent of which, he explained, can come form our own mindset.

Ken wrapped up by taking the audience through the visualisation techniques he uses with Alex Thompson. He essentially got everyone to “stand back” and take a look at themselves from the outside and ask what we have forgotten and what we needed to know in that situation to help us perform to our best. Ultimately focusing on the process and not the outcome goal. 

Hopefully, everyone got plenty of ideas to take away and help push their businesses forward.