The Queen Ant runs a tight business. Do you run a tight business? Her colony is usually extremely loyal as well as very hard working and efficient. Queen Ants are responsible for growing the colony and the workers are the key to success in a symbiotic relationship. Just like people in a business work to survive, the colony works for survival too. The Queen Ant is just like many CEOs who have been publicly documented to sacrifice the colony to save the throne. To survive for the long term in your industry, you have to find a symbiotic harmony. It is true, that in business just like in nature, only the fittest survive.
Want to double your revenue and profits?
Naturally, you want to double your revenue and profits if not triple. So what should you do? Look at nature and see how the ants build colonies!
Ant colonies and your business are alike in many ways. Consider the Queen sends her best “sales people” out to gather food just as you send your best sales people out to gather customers. Companies need customers to sustain the business operations and try to make a profit for survival. Ant colonies need food to sustain the ants and Queens so the colony “profits” and survives. Consider “profit” as the common term both companies and ant colonies ultimately seek as the survival means. Work with this comparison and see how it plays out in the example that follows.
Contrast the growing and successful ant colony to your company.
To grow the colony the Queen Ant has her “sales people” gather to discuss strategies and tactics. She brings with her a hidden agenda aimed at getting the best results from her plans when implemented. The Queen sets up a beta experiment for his ant managers and her ants. This is a “process & behavior” test designed to produce more “profit”.
Two top ant mangers were selected for the beta and each was asked to take a team of “sales people” and experiment. Each ant manager was told to produce more profit. With different ideas on how to achieve what was asked, the ant managers designed different approaches to improve the performance of their ants when they go hunting in the market place.
The First Ant Manager
- Checked the intern and liked what was found on performance management (PM). Next the ant manager established an ant PM approach that measured how many visits/trips the ants made to designated hunting grounds. At considerable cost to the Queen, an extensive measurement system was created to count the number of visits.
- The managers provided feedback to each ant every week on individual performance, but the ants were never told about the colony’s goal to produce more food – “profit”.
- The manager created special awards for the ants who visited the most hunting grounds
The Second Ant Manager
- Also established an ant PM approach, but this approach communicated to each ant the goal of the colony—to bring back more food.
- This ant manger and his ants measured three aspects of their performance: the number of hunting grounds each ant visited and the amount of food brought back to the colony and then analyzed the results based on geographic.
- The performance of each ant and the colony’s overall performance were charted and posted on the colony’s bulletin board and congratulation emails were sent out colony wide.
- The ant manager created a few awards for the ants that gathered the most food, but also established a colony incentive program that rewarded each ant in the colony based on the colony’s food harvesting and the more food gathered the more recognition each ant would get.
What do you think might have happened to each colony at the end of the season when the ant manager would report back to each Queen Ant? Think about your thoughts carefully.
The first ant manager at the end of the year: Found that his colony had indeed increased the number of hunting grounds visited, but the amount of food gathered by the colony had dropped. He had a bewildered look on his face. The Queen was indeed furious and told him that he looked like he just now finally accessed “the score of the game he had just lost but had done so not as a coach or player but as a spectator in the stands looking who looked up at the end of the game to finally learn what is going on because he pulled his head somewhere else other than the real game”.
The ant manager had to report that because the ants were so busy trying to visit as many hunting grounds as possible, they limited the amount of food they would carry and bring back so they could cover more territory.
Also, because the ants felt they were competing against each other for awards because only the top performers were recognized, they would not share valuable information with each other, like the location of the best hunting grounds they had spotted on the way back to the colony that could have helped improve the performance of all the ants. After all was said and done, one of the high-performing ants told the ant manager that if he’d been told that the real goal was to gather more food rather than to visit more hunting grounds, he would have done his work completely differently.
At the end of the year when the ant manager handed out the awards at a lavish banquet to individual ants, unhappy grumbling was heard in the background. The award ceremony did not have the “feeling” intended by the ant manager at all. The team’s results, behaviors and culture was worse now. The Queen was surely to be angry. The colony’s strength was threatened as was its survival in the highly competitive “dog eat dog world” as the ants called it.
The second ant manager at the end of the season: Had very different results because he asked the ants individually to help think of a “pre-plan” to grow the colony as he asked it wanting all answers and especially those with “blue sky concepts and those with “blocking and tackling concepts” too. Each ant in his team quickly became focused on the colony’s goal of gathering more food, the ants had concentrated their efforts on gathering more food than ever before despite resistance and obstacles. In-fact they had no more resources than before so they had to leverage what they had. A few ants tried to “derail this plan with some quiet and some loud grumblings on “were doing that already” and “I am already the best”. A few even said “this is stupid”. The manager, however, “despite any obstacles, challenges and resistance faced, worked extra hours every day with the team to focus of the goal set forth. The Queen certainly supported him and said so when they talked at important meetings.
The ants that believed in the idea rose to the top quickly and some became champions of the cause. Worked closely together to determine the most productive plans and tactics to find and gather food. The ants and to create better communication and faster processes for gathering food.
No surprise that they also worked together to help increase the amount of food gathered by the poor performers as they realized bottle necks in the system hurt them all.
The Queen Ant reported that the poor performers either improved their performance or transferred to another colony as the culture evolved into a “Top Performers Only Mentality”.
Because the colony had reached its goal, the second ant manager awarded each ant his portion of the colony incentive payment.
The second ant manager was not too surprised to hear the loud, happy cheers of his ant team as he rewarded the individual high performing ants with special recognition. The ant manager was surprised to see the Queen arrive at the award banquet ad personally give him an award too. The manager wanted to work hard to better understand the Queen and Colony mission critical needs for survival even more and harder knowing he was on the right path. Also not surprisingly, this team taught the entire colony the strategies and tactics learned. They all soon had KPI and best practices and grew the colony in to the most profitable.
Now this story as should be ends with the Queen. You see the Queen, although not happy with the first team was the one responsible for the ultimate growth of the colony. The Queen just as a CEO must, created synergy and combined the wisdom of the best practices with the increased knowledge of the hunting grounds that the first team had from its exploits. These two teams worked together next after the beta and cross communication and vertical communication from top to bottom grew stronger. The Queen’s outstanding methodology and leadership brought the vision to fruition.
The moral of the story is:
- Align your ultimate goals with strategic tactics because they will affect the behavior of your staff
- The people must be involved in design but easier said than done because they want to kill it too
- Champions are the leverage but you failed to use it before and odds are you will fail again
- Measuring and recognizing accomplishments rather than activities and giving feedback to the worker ants will often improve the results of the entire hive.
- This is a complicated solution to deliver in a “living and breathing organization” so in your business odds are its even more complicated
- The solution is not in a box or even found solely in a book but rather in a philosophy
Utilize The RENAISSANCE Business Philosophy to Evolve Your Revenue and Margin Growth
- Apply Integrated Sales Services
Let C-Level Marketing Sales Consulting Show You How to Double your Sales and Profits