Photo: Sergey_Fedoskin / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus

Photo: Sergey_Fedoskin / iStock / Getty Images / Getty Images Plus

In the highly anticipated Top Gun sequel, Maverick reprises a theme from his role in the original film. “You think up there, you’re dead. Believe me,” he says.

Top Gun rules and practices exist for a reason, just as they do for your business. They increase the success rate by defining what must be done to accomplish a mission and what should be avoided to minimize predictable risks.

There are Mavericks in every industry and most respect systems. Yet, if you don’t give these top guns space to innovate, you will miss opportunities to encourage their growth and that of your company.

Systems and processes simplify decisions by hardwiring practitioners for success. As efficiency expert, W. Edwards Deming famously said, “If you cannot describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you are doing.”

Iconic companies like McDonald’s flourished on the premise that step-by-step systems minimize poor decisions. Apple took this approach further when it embraced retail as its primary distribution channel, with one exception. It encouraged employees to innovate when the system would not accommodate unique customer needs.

Revise systems for high achievers

Large organizations have a reputation for stifling creativity with standard operating systems and reporting procedures. I personally experienced this early in my career before founding my landscape business.

Getting my company up and running was fueled by the thrill of entrepreneurial freedom. Yet, as the stakes in people and equipment grew, I retreated to the systems and procedures that I formerly resisted.

Those systems helped our company grow until they didn’t. That’s when I realized every company outgrows its systems. Our practice was mostly to trust them until they proved unreliable, then fix what was broken.

As we grew, it became necessary to upgrade our systems for the next generation of leaders. The seemingly insignificant changes were necessary for several reasons. Most important was getting everyone to take ownership and trust the process.

Mental confidence is often underestimated. Endurance athletes know this all too well. Most elite marathoners can beat the competition on any given day, but those that show up mentally strong always have the edge.

They do this by operating within a system of restraint until just the right moment for making their move, much like a top gun pilot. They know their limits and patiently wait for the perfect time to employ one of only a few planned strategies.

In the final miles of a marathon runners are too tired to think. They must assess the conditions and their physical and mental state and act, just as they practiced. As Maverick might say, “Don’t think. Trust your training and get the job done.”

The challenge for business owners is two-fold. The first is augmenting systems and processes for high achievers who have mastered the standards. Then trust them to act and innovate to succeed.

It’s impossible to train for every opportunity, but with the right systems and training in place, you can trust your top guns to rise to the occasion and grow your business.

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Jeff Korhan

About the Author:

Jeff Korhan is the owner of True Nature Marketing, a Naples, Fla.-based company helping entrepreneurs grow. Reach him at Jeff works with service companies that want to drive growth and enhance their brand experience with digital platforms.

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