I admire one of Malcolm Gladwell’s rules in life: pull the goalie and not because 1) it’s a hockey reference and 2) I’m Canadian.
‘Pulling the goalie’ is a tactic used in hockey to swap out the goalie for an attacking player to increase odds of scoring. This call tends to be made seconds left to the game even though data shows the optimal time to increase odds of winning is actually when 12 mins are left on the clock.
So why aren’t more coaches doing the latter? Because it really pisses people (fans) off. Being disagreeable is a common reason why we make wrong choices even when it’s in everyone’s best interest to do otherwise.
The Task at Hand: Companies continuously struggle to do the right thing despite being run by highly competent humans. Some businesses make progress, while others are repeatedly called out for negligence on environmental impact, labor standards and ineffective data protection protocols.
Why? Because ethical business initiatives hit the bottom line and aren’t easily linked to an immediate ROI, even though time and time again, data shows doing the right thing is profitable.
The Solution Proposed: Let’s examine Mumbai 26/11, one of the most tragic acts of terrorism in history where 10 gunmen coordinated 12 shootings in 2008. One attack was held at the prestigious Taj Hotel where the response of service staff produced one of the best examples of employees doing the right thing in difficult situations.
Many hotel staff stayed back to rescue guests when they could have saved themselves from attackers. They didn’t stop to think about the financial benefits and costs of ethical initiatives. Their sacrifice spurred an entirely new meaning to customer service excellence.
How was the organization able to emulate this level of service? It wasn’t written in manuals or in corporate policies, instead the Taj Group ensured each and every single staff member hired was empowered to ‘pull their goalies’ – employees would be supported in any decision that put guests front and center even if disagreeable.
A company can start doing the right things when all levels are empowered to be proactive using purpose as the motive of all decisions. To be clear, purpose is not profit, purpose is as following:
A company’s purpose is its reason for existing. It gives all employees an identity to latch onto and the inspiration to be inventive and advance the organization.
Pull the goalie.