True North

Point north.

If you ask a room full of people to do that you get a lot of different people pointing in a lot of different directions.  It’s not surprising in these days of GPS technology.  We mostly don’t need to know that anymore. It is known for us.

But identify true north for that same room of people and then ask them again to….point north.  A couple interesting things happen.  Most of the room will point to north in a lockstep, highly synchronized fashion…because it was just revealed to them.  But then there is a subset of folks who will not point at all.  They might think it is a waste of energy to point north when everybody already knows which way is north.

And that secondary behavior is the one that stands out to me.

Conserving energy, insisting on efficiency, not wasting effort or time….that’s the value of true north.

When you intuitively know “true north” there are a multitude of answers that are known before questions can even be asked.  If you have it at your disposal you can calculate direction, temperature, time, etc.

If I know true north….then south, west and east are understood.

If I know true north….then I know what direction to travel to find cooler or warmer temperatures.

If I know true north….I can look at the position of the sun and estimate the time of day.

Strong leaders understand the value of true north.  They clearly and concisely identify true north, the goal or purpose that their team should be striving toward.

According to , burger giant McDonalds averaged $2.5 million per restaurant in sales in 2015.  That’s an impressive number!

Now consider the 2015 results of the Chick Fil A company.  They specialize in chicken, of course, so you might think them to be focused on competing against other chicken specialty restaurants as opposed to the Goliath, McDonalds.

Wrong.  They are competing with the big boys and doing just fine thank you.  They averaged $4 million in sales per restaurant in 2015.

Oh,….did I mention that they are not open on Sundays…and not a 24 hour operation?

Chick Fil A has famously worked hard to create a strong company culture that focuses on…..well, the customer.  Their employees know EXACTLY what to do when a customer issue arises.

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten free chicken from this company despite my insistence that it is not necessary over some small error.

Are they the cheapest alternative?  Nope,  a little more expensive than a burger.

Are they the most convenient alternative?  Nope, not as many locations around town.

Is anyone who works at this company confused about where true north is in their team culture?   Nope.

What is true north for YOUR team?

And more importantly… THEY know the answer to that question?


(Before you leave please take the POLL on Happiness located n this page!)



2 Replies to “True North”

  1. Spoken like the former artillery soldier you are. Dropping a round on Division Headquarters is a career buster.

    1. I literally laughed out loud at your comment here, Dad! Having a good sense for “true north” is more important in some lines of work than others….BOOM! Oops….lol! Always good to get the perspective of a fellow Red Leg.

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