Insights and Inspiration



The Importance of Tempo

Cormac O'Neill | Chief Tempo Officier

Have you ever been in full flow, things seem to be going well, you see yourself speaking and people paying attention when suddenly, your brain goes “What the hell have you just said…?” This happened to me during one of our Webio team sessions when I challenged the team to push themselves out of their comfort zone and try something different. No sooner had my brain realised what I had just said when one of the team piped up saying “I challenge you to learn how to play Fairy-tale of New York on the guitar at our Christmas party!!”. Random right?

Realising that it was too late to engage the reverse thrusters, I accepted the challenge. Now anyone that knows me understands that I don’t have a note in my head, and that’s not me being modest, there are seals that sing better!

Undeterred, I signed up for a 10-week beginners’ course, bought a guitar in Aldi and I was all set to rock and roll. Yeah, ok, so I’m not going to be the next Slash, but I practiced a bit every day, and  as the weeks went by, I got a small bit better. I knew how to make the chords and learned how to move between cords, much to the complaint of my wrist.  The revelation though was in the realisation of the role and importance that rhythm and tempo play. Every song tells a story, conveys a message but if the player is not operating at the right tempo, the story goes untold and song is lost.

The Difference Between Success and Failure

This got me thinking about how we operate at Webio and what we do for our customers. What role, if any, might rhythm and tempo play? If you are part of a cycling team, or a football team you know the feeling, when the ball is moving smoothly, or the bikes are in flow. Anyone who has been in a start-up knows the grinding effort, where all your energy is used up, at every moment and it’s all uphill.

So, I stood back, watched and listened and here’s my conclusion. Finding the tempo that allows your team to operate at their optimum level can be the difference between success and failure. Set a tempo that is too fast and you’re in danger for losing control. Mistakes happen, people burnout and productivity dives. Set a tempo that is too slow and quite simply, you’ll die. I have become so convinced of the importance that the role of tempo plays in the success or otherwise of a company that I changed my title to Chief Tempo Officer at Webio. Here are the things I have done to set the tempo:

  • Timeliness – does this have to be done now, or can it wait?
  • Early- how could his be done quickly or killed quickly if not working?
  • Motivation – how can I get everyone switched on?
  • Play – are we having any fun, if not, warning!
  • Objectives – are we habitually hitting every deliverable, no matter how small?

Tempo and Customer Engagement

“That’s great, I’m happy for you, but how does tempo relate to my customer engagement strategy? I hear you say. It’s simple, your customer engagement team will also have a beat, a rhythm, a story. My CEO Challenge to you is to really ask yourself:

  • Do I feel swamped with the number of things that seem to have to be done right now?
  • If anything isn’t working does it feel like a big deal?
  • Would anyone in here go the extra yard if nobody else was looking?
  • When is the last time we all had a good laugh around the meeting room table?
  • Listen to yourself, do you spend your time asking if we are going to miss a deliverable?

If the TEMPO questions above are ringing some bells for you the good news is that you can change. The other good news is that you are the one who can change it. There are plenty of cheap guitars and downloadable song books, by which I mean checklists and change management guides. Just pick one, and implement it. But make the change happen every day. Get your team into delivery mode. Get their actions synchronised. Get them to go further, to be more, because I guarantee you they will step up more than you know, and more than they think they ever could.

So as always, thank you for taking the time to read this, I do appreciate it. Now you deserve a bit of a laugh so below is the proof that I did indeed learn the guitar and that I don’t have a note in my head.




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