During his time in the Air Force, Afterburner founder Jim “Murph” Murphy discovered a crucial truth: executing high-stakes missions hinges on meticulous planning, strategic alignment, and unwavering focus. Just as fighter pilot squadrons rely on these principles for success, teams in the business world face similar challenges, particularly when it comes to meeting revenue targets. Distractions can derail even the most well-equipped teams, jeopardizing mission success. Success in any field relies on a team’s ability to combat distractions and act on key priorities.
Now for the good news: Teams don’t have to simply accept a distraction-prone workflow as the cost of doing business. Just as corporate teams and fighter pilot squadrons are similarly vulnerable to distractions during high-stakes missions, they can benefit from a similar solution: cross-checks. Let’s explore what cross-checks are, and why they’re a crucial tool for teams looking to turn yesterday’s missed target into tomorrow’s direct hit – and get their revenue engine roaring again.
What are cross-checks?
Each time a Fighter Pilot hops into the cockpit of their jet, the first thing they see is an array of dials and gauges laid out on the instrument panel. Each of these has a role to play – but some are more essential than others. That’s why, when pilots are flying under pressure or in combat, they’re trained to focus only on the core gauges and dials showing the kind of information that they’ll always need to keep track of, no matter the situation: altitude, speed, and a handful of others.
“By determining which of the many inputs and factors in your situation need your immediate attention, you’re also identifying which ones don’t need it.”
When we talk about cross-checks, that’s what we mean – the practice of identifying what you absolutely need to keep track of, and temporarily setting aside the rest, as a way of blocking out distractions and staying focused during fast-moving, high-pressure situations. By determining which of the many inputs and factors in your situation need your immediate attention, you’re also identifying which ones don’t need it. This is the difference between cutting through the noise and succumbing to the chaos.
What do cross-checks look like in business settings?
Work can get chaotic these days. Inboxes are full of a million emails on a million different topics. Calendars are full of meetings. Whiteboards are covered in plans. When a team is missing their revenue target, all this chaos creates distractions that cause them to fall farther behind.
Using cross-checks can help you turn the chaos into order. It can empower you to focus only on the action items that will have a direct impact on your most important mission objective – boosting your revenue to prevent another miss – without letting other, less impactful action items cause distractions you can ill afford.
When you’re mid-way through the quarter, would you rather your top rep focus on updating the team’s battlecards based on a competitor’s movements, or boning up for the demo they’re giving a prospect tomorrow? Both tasks have value, but the latter has a stronger impact on actually hitting your target.
What challenges are involved in using cross-checks?
At a glance, cross-checks might seem intuitive. Focus on what matters, set aside the rest – what’s so revolutionary about that?
“When your team is missing your goals, you don’t have the luxury of focusing on anything but the need-to-haves.”
But the challenge related to cross-checks is not grasping the concept – that part is easy. The challenge, particularly for teams who have missed their targets and are under pressure to turn things around, is one of mindset. It’s not easy, for example, for a Sales team to decide to cancel a prospect meet-and-greet so they can focus all their attention on closing leads that are currently in the funnel. When you’re coming off a target miss, your instinct is to leave no stone unturned.
But using cross-checks is about understanding that the meet-and-greet is a nice-to-have – and that, when your team is missing your goals, you don’t have the luxury of focusing on anything but the need-to-haves. When you get into a cross-check mindset, you’re better able to make tough decisions that are nonetheless necessary if your team is to stay focused on what matters in high-stakes situations.
At Afterburner, we specialize in guiding teams through implementing cross-checks, empowering them to navigate distractions and achieve revenue targets with precision. Contact us today to discover how our expertise can propel your team towards success.