I am fresh off of a TAB Summit in Amsterdam where we met in person for the first time in over 2 years with 20 Master Partners representing 16 countries. What a magnificent gathering. It was great to see old friends and colleagues after so long. New colleagues too. Several partners launched TAB in their countries during the pandemic. We got to meet in person for the first time. Very enthused about the collaboration and new ideas that came out of our 3 days together.
Why did this go so well? Why did it feel like we didn’t miss a beat? How could 26 months go by and yet we picked up right where we left off? Didn’t we need time to get reacquainted and realigned after such a gap? There were four keys to this successful summit.
Don’t Let Great Be the Enemy of Good
It seems funny now but prior to the pandemic, we would hold quarterly calls with our master partners using a combination of Skype – for video – along with a conference bridge – for audio. This was clunky, to say the least.
We were used to meeting in person to discuss substantial topics. We didn’t have Zoom accounts. As soon as the pandemic hit, like many other organizations, we were suddenly Zoom-savvy. We set up twice-monthly meetings with our master partners. The frequency and quality of our communication skyrocketed.
Zoom wasn’t perfect. Far from it. It could be fatiguing to stare at little boxes on the computer screen all day. For a global organization, there is no single time that fits into everyone’s business day. It is always early for some participants and late for others.
Everyone committed to the Zoom meetings. Some of our meetings felt very meaningful, others, more tactical. Yet we found that we were communicating better than ever. Rather than waiting for once-annual in-person summits to discuss the strategic topics, we were discussing them regularly.
These meetings were one key to making our Amsterdam summit so successful.
The military has the concept of “commander’s intent.” The commander is crystal clear on the objective of a mission. Even though the commander knows what he or she wants, the commander is not on the front lines. In order to be successful, their intent needs to be completely clear to every soldier in their unit. The concept is that each front-line soldier will make good independent decisions because they know what the commander wants them to achieve.
In business, this clarity is achieved through a common vision. If everyone in an organization is crystal clear on the vision, and working daily to achieve it, it doesn’t matter if the team is local or distributed. In fact, this type of clarity is that much more important in a global organization.
Our vision for TAB, regardless of location, is that we help private business owners run more successful businesses and achieve their personal vision of success. Having facilitated TAB Boards for over 30 years, we know that business owners everywhere want to run a successful business and achieve their personal aspirations.
Because we all share the same vision for TAB, and all of our master partners are working towards achieving this vision in their countries, we are able to achieve “commander’s intent” in our global organization. Having a crystal clear vision was the second key to global success during the pandemic.
Pierre Perrine, Master Partner from France, said: "Because at TAB International we are focused on the needs and challenges of business owners worldwide, I am always amazed about how similar the opportunities and challenges are for us in each individual country. This makes these alignment meetings invaluable. "
Why is it that when longtime friends who haven’t seen each other for years get together, they seem to pick up where they left off? Sometimes it is a common interest and experience. Usually, they share beliefs and values as well. Seeing the world in a common way leads to alignment and cohesiveness between people and groups.
At TAB, we developed a culture that we refer to as CALIBER. As a global organization, many of our master partners spell it CALIBRE. It may be spelled differently, but it means the same exact thing in every market where we operate.
At one time, we didn’t have this kind of clarity in our values. Now, you can go to any master partner or facilitator around the world, and ask what our values are, and everyone can recite them: Community, Accountability, Lifelong Learning, Innovation, Belief, Excellence, and Respect.
These aren’t just words. This is our belief system for how we work with each other. Sharing common beliefs were very important to our continuity during the pandemic. The combination of shared vision and shared values are essential to a high-performing global organization.
Relationships Should Not Be Efficient
We all want things to be more efficient in our businesses, don’t we? It’s almost a given that leaders should be relentlessly focused on making things more efficient. Doing more with less. Improving productivity. Deploying technology.
Jason Zickerman, TAB’s CEO, says that one area we don’t want to be efficient in is human relationships. Our fourth and final key to being a successful global organization during the pandemic is the depth of relationships that we had established. As one of our master partners said, what is talked about at the bar is as valuable as what is discussed in the conference room.
Our intent to be inefficient in our relationships with our master partners has always been an important part of our model. Many organizations learned this lesson during the pandemic. When we suddenly did not have the “water cooler” conversations with team members, we lost something. While these may have been viewed as inefficiencies at one time, business leaders had to be highly resourceful in finding ways to show up as people – not just employees – in a virtual environment.
Now that we are getting back into the office, I believe it’s important that we continue to work as hard in building cultures that encourage coworker relationships to be inefficient by design.
Our Formula for Success
After not meeting in person for over two years, we picked up right where we left off. In fact, it seemed like we started from a point of even greater alignment because we had established such a great foundation throughout the pandemic. The bi-weekly Zoom calls were key to successful communication. Our Shared Vision and Values formed the basis for us to make independent decisions that were in alignment. And the time we invested over the years to build substantial relationships was the final key to success.
Vincent Vermeulen, Master Partner from Nederland, commented that “I feel strengthened and honored in our role to help business owners and leaders with making their teams becoming their strongest network and ambassadors for their company”.
This was our formula for success. We believe that any organization – local, national or global – will benefit substantially by following this same formula.