Leading to Prime
Author: Russell Evans
I am sometimes asked where our company name comes from - and specifically why the word ‘prime’ features. The story goes back to our early days, when we collaborated with Gerry Faust PhD., a leading California based thought leader and researcher into the concept of ‘The Organisational Lifecycle’.
His work, alongside business partner, Ichak Adizes, identified that an organisation didn’t necessarily have a finite life. Their research showed that if the organisation operated in such a way as to maintain a state of optimum performance called ‘Prime’, it’s life could be extended almost indefinitely.
There are similarities to what Jim Collins PhD. found in his ‘Built to Last’ and ‘Good to Great’ research; find your evolutionary sweet spot, constantly reinvent and the organisation is much more likely to become a long-term creator of value. Our founder, John Campbell, found the quest of helping organisations achieve and sustain Prime so compelling, that it was included in both our reason for being…and our name!
We have maintained that purpose, embracing change as we go to ensure relevance. Enabling, developing and advising leaders on how to get to the space where they can deliver long term value for their customers, their employees and their owners - to Prime.
Prime is the optimum position on an organisational lifecycle, where the organisation finally achieves a balance between control and agility.
Prime is not actually a single point on the lifecycle curve but is best represented by an area of the curve that includes both growing and aging conditions. This is because agility and self-control are incompatible, creating healthy tension. Sometimes the Prime organisation is more flexible than controllable, sometimes it’s not flexible enough. And given the fact that context is always changing, the area where Prime exists also changes.
Leaders who genuinely ‘Lead to Prime’ recognise that they need to keep their organisations just below the summit of the curve to remain in Prime and not be tempted into the trappings of Stable and the beginning of Premature Aging. As we know so vividly from 2020 nothing remains static. Leading to Prime requires constant attention and energy from both leaders and their people, continually reinventing and developing both the organisation and themselves and adapting to change. We are in it for the infinite game.
When Leaders ‘Lead to Prime’ they:
- Ensure the organisation is guided by its purpose, it’s reason for being. Working with the leadership team and other key stakeholders they create a clear vision of how to fulfil that purpose so everyone knows what they will do and will not do to make the journey. In short ‘they walk their talk’ and help others to do the same.
- Pursue with passion an enterprise-wide focus on external stakeholders to earn their long-term satisfaction. This results in a high degree of stakeholder loyalty. At the same time, because of the clarity of vision, the organisation knows when and how to say ‘no’ to the market. It is disciplined enough to protect itself from engaging in ‘bad business’.
- Drive the institutionalisation of a collaborative, entrepreneurial spirit and creative mindset which consistently produces controlled, profitable innovation.
- Manage the company in a way so it operates in a focused, profitable energised and sustainable manner.
- Think and act systemically, ensuring organisational structures work well. Opposing forces are balanced. There is alignment between vision, strategy, structure, culture, information, resource allocation and rewards. Leaders who are ‘Leading to Prime’ continuously adapt and realign these subsystems to meet the challenges of VUCA environment.
- Make priorities clear so the organisation knows what to do and what not to do. That clarity of vision and priorities allows a certain composure and peace of mind when they make tough decisions.
- Champion the balancing act of support and challenge throughout the organisation where stretching goals are set and enabled so they can be consistently achieved.
- Recognise that appropriate, effective and reliable infrastructure provides support for the entire organisation and resource it to the best of their ability.
- Continually seek opportunities for intra- and inter-organisational integration and cohesion with clients, suppliers, investors, and the community. Decision-making is done in an environment of healthy, constructive conflict. These aid internal cohesion which enables the Prime organisation to devote much of its energy externally.
- Strive to create an outstanding place of work where people enjoy spending their lives. Consequently, employee churn or turnover is at a healthy level, as both experience and new thinking are valued. The importance of work/life balance is recognised and instances of burnout are rare.
- Create opportunities for people to align their purpose with that of the organisation and liberate their talents to deliver results and personal success.
- See change as ‘business as usual’ rather than ‘change management’. As it is the norm, people embrace change and work hard, adapting to shifting markets and technologies, innovating to meet growing stakeholder needs.
- Learn continuously and encourage others to do the same. They recognise it comes in many ways; from formal and informal learning right though to learning by understanding different perspectives when people disagree.
- Act with courageous authenticity as they understand their own values, those of the organisation and act in alignment with them.
- Lead an organisation that endures, survives and thrives on disruption, enjoying consistent, above average long-term growth in value and worth.
‘Leading to Prime’ is not easy as it requires a shift in mindset as well as behaviour. It requires commitment, investment in time, energy and inevitably funding. However, the opportunity is huge, if you are willing and brave enough to make the leap and take a fresh look at how leaders 'lead to Prime'.
The second part of our name - east, is an abbreviation of our original name from 1986 - Executive And Staff Training.
Our name and how we do things have changed, but our quest has remained constant over the years - we support our clients with the development of their leaders and people so that their organisation gets to, and remains in, Prime.
Talk to us about how we can help you and your organisation on your journey to being in Prime, email Russell Evans here or call him or our client relationship team on +44 (0)1423 531083.
We invite you to take a few minutes and try out some of our assessment resources which will give you some insights into growth and development opportunities.
The Primeast PrimeFocus™ assessment takes you through the eight elements that must be aligned to deliver prime performance and helps you to understand where you and your organisation are on this journey.
Completing the Primeast Leadership Challenge assessment will help you to identify potential leadership development opportunities.