Look After Your Bread And Butter

‘Look after your bread and butter’ was one of my stock phrases when I held development reviews with my people, and quite often I used it in staff or senior team meetings just to remind everyone about who or what we are.

Clive Gilson and colleagues in their book Peak Performance talks about the ‘Last Detail’ as one of the base parts of the triangle whose apex is ‘Exceeding Organisational Best’. (The other base component is ‘Game Breaking Ideas’).

Sir David Brailsford’s commitment to understanding ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’ became very well documented during the very successful 2012 year for his cyclists.

Simply put sometimes we just forget what we are about.

Many years ago, at Lancashire County Cricket Club, the senior management team were presenting their budgets and targets for the following season. I was in charge of all cricket and it made the only loss out of all the other departments- Conference and Banqueting, Catering, Ground, Commercial etc.

We’re a very successful business here” commented the Finance wallahs. “Any chance you can cut back on the cricket? It really deflates the figures.

Do you work at the Talbot Road Conference Centre or Lancashire County Cricket Club?” I responded curtly.

The very fact that a team of cricketers have emerged from the Pavilion to play cricket here is why we ARE a successful business. They are attracted to come to events at Old Trafford, an internationally renowned CRICKET ground.

The NHS are possibly the best example of ignoring their ‘bread and butter’. I attended a conference recently in London, ‘Public Health 2013’ and one of the keynote speakers Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said that ‘…for too long, the NHS had been the National Hospital Service or the National Illness Service’.

Instead of the patient being the bread and butter of the NHS, we’ve been left on the trolleys of targets, efficiencies, maximum cost benefit theories and the last detail has been overlooked.

As Clive Gilson suggests, ‘Catching the last detail is an attitude and mind-set that transcends any particular department or organisational function‘.

Clive told me the story of NFL superstar Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers, asked about how his team had won the Super Bowl that year, directed them to Lyn Carozzi, Ticket Office Manager, as the reason for their success.

Lyn, you see, had ensured that EVERY request for tickets from families of the players had been accommodated. As the teams lined up at the start, Jerry Rice and his team looked at their opponents, the Cincinnati Bengals, scanning the stands for sight of their loved ones. The 49ers, knew exactly where to look. They were content, able to focus on the game immediately and Super Bowl XXIII was theirs.

Now that’s looking after your bread and butter.


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