Last week I had the great good fortune to take a team of leaders from one of my clients on a field trip to visit the amazing team at makeitcheaper in London and what we saw literally blew us away

The levels of passion, commitment, discipline, professionalism and energy from a team of more than 100 telephone salespeople and team leaders, the vast majority of whom are under 30, was really something else and before you stop reading, the lessons can apply to any team doing anything.

Every day at 08.15 the senior leaders meet to review the day before and plan for the day ahead. At 08.30 each senior leader meets with their team of team leaders to do the same. At 08.40 the whole sales team meets for a stand up to get everyone focused for the day. At 08.50 each team leader meets with their team to get the priorities for the day agreed and 08.59 everyone is on their first call. Every-single-day. No meeting is more than 10-mins and everyone is willingly active by 08.59

Now this isn’t a manufacturing site that’s invested hundreds of thousands in running Six Sigma. It isn’t a trading floor responding to market or currency events around the world. It isn’t even a 24/7 customer service call centre responding to thousands of incoming calls. This is an incredible team of (publicly much maligned) millennials taking control of their own destiny, believing in their purpose and working with a level of self-determination that I have simply never seen in a commercial environment.

All this and the mood was positive, very good natured and entirely progressive. Nobody was there telling anyone else what to do. Everyone understands the value that each other add and how the set-up creates success for all.

Of course, this hasn’t come about by magic. On further investigation I’d say they have done these three things – and exactly in this order.


They have spent years analysing, developing, codifying and then constantly reviewing everything they do. Every single method from recruitment to selling to leading is written down, challenged and then honoured. So effective is the approach that everyone has a set of MPA’s (Most Powerful Actions) that they get rewarded upon. These are not boring KPI’s but instead are carefully considered Actions that when aggregated deliver the result. Of course, everyone has a financial target but it’s MPA’s that are the language and driver of performance. It was fascinating to watch the leaders reviewing their MPA’s. Everyone knew their numbers to the digit. No one complained that the MI was late or inaccurate – since it was neither. Each had an action corresponding to the data. Awesome!


When you ask them for the secret of their success, they say they are proud to be boring! Every hour of the day is carefully choregraphed not only to maximise commercial success but also to recognise the needs of driven human beings. Training sessions are fully integrated to the work pattern – not just occasional add ons, performance reviews and feedback happen constantly, and meetings are prepared, have a purpose and are very focused. That’s not to say that this is some sweat shop where everyone must follow the rules without question. Far from it. Everyone is engaged in constantly sharing how they are doing things and if something new repeatedly works it very soon finds its way into the standard methods.


But of course, routine does not actually mean boring. At least not at makeitcheaper. Leaders are constantly visible, never stuck behind their screens doing email or some pointless report (in fact I never saw them sitting down) and instead are actively engaged with their team ALL THE TIME. They don’t get everyone set up and then head to an interminable review meeting on Project Zeus. They are engaged in high energy leadership the whole time. Imagine that. Leaders leading!


Now I’m sure you’ve worked out many ways that this set up wouldn’t apply to your environment and why it’s fine for a bunch of telephone salespeople selling to SME’s but really wouldn’t work for a more sophisticated team. Indeed, the multi-national team I took for the field visit had to work hard to make sure they didn’t blinker themselves either. However, once they got past this and applied Method, Routine and Energy to their thinking they came up with many ways they could apply what they learnt to their environment.

How could this apply to your world?

Matt Crabtree


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