24th September 2021

I-COM Podcast: Creating a Performance Environment as you Scale

Ryan Cunningham

Today's podcast episode is from my Directions for Directors ?  series where I had the pleasure of chatting with our guest Rory Underwood MBE, former RAF Flight Lieutenant, England’s highest ever rugby try scorer, and Director of Wingman.

Rory shares insights gained from his rugby and Royal Air Force career on what's required to accelerate business growth, and why training helps teams fly higher and faster with less effort. 
In our talk about ‘creating a performance environment as you scale’ we discuss;

  • The challenges that businesses experiencing growth face
  • The well-trodden path where an entrepreneurial founder has to shift roles dramatically as their business experiences growth to deal with staff, process, and the ‘day to day’ stuff
  • How there's no ‘magic number’ of revenue or staff for when its the time to start formalising your processes but its when everyone in the organisation can’t hear the same conversation
  • Why the cheapest way for any organisation is to develop from within - but every now and again you have to bring in someone from outside
  • Getting both communication and culture right to find the winning formula

Rory uses comparisons from rugby, flying, and business to describe performance training environments. 

"Rugby is a 1 hour 20 mins game on a Saturday - so you could argue that 90% of [a players] time  is training, and 10% of the time is the doing - playing the match".

“When flying, we don’t just turn up and fly a jet...when I talk about the military, it’s a training organisation. We train, and train, and train, to get ready to go to war. And even when we go to war we still think about training because the enemy are trying to adapt and workout ways of overcoming us. So again, 90% of the time is training, and 10% of the time is doing”. 

“So if you take the context of business, what would you do with those figures...most people say it's the other way around...and I’m not advocating that you should spending 90% of your time on training and planning before doing, because you don't...but if organisations say that they want to be a world class business with world class people then there’s budget and time to be spent on developing your people”.

Rory shares a huge amount of takeaways in this conversation for founders and directors at all stages of their leadership journey on how to build the sustainable, high-performance environments required to deliver their goals and release the full potential of their people.

Thanks go to Rory, Laura Taylor and Jane McClelland from the Wingman team, and David Wafer Chair of Institute of Directors for LCR for the superb recommendation and organising.
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