And… what on earth has that got to do with business? Let me explain.

There’s a fabulous story which I was reminded of by Gill Fielding at an EBA event in London, Gill asked the question; “Why can’t men pee straight?” You may or may not have heard the story, it involves the mens toilets in Schiphol airport, Amsterdam… I promise this story is going somewhere and has relevance to a business blog.

Management at the airport had noticed that the cleaning bill associated with the mens toilets versus the ladies toilets at the airport were disproportionate to the number of users, with the cleaning bill for the mens facility being dramatically higher. With an eagle eye on cost savings they decided to look into the problem and commissioned a time and motion study… no, really. They guy with the clipboard, (ok I’m assuming it was a guy), stood back, observed and recorded his findings.

What he discovered was that men seemed to lack focus and direction which led to what he described as “human spillage” and therefore the resulting higher cleaning cost to tidy things up. They determined that they needed to get the men focused on the task in hand, (OK couldn’t resist that one).

The solution? A simple house fly. If you go to the men’s washrooms at the Schiphol airport, you will notice there’s a fly etched into the urinals. So what do you think most men do? That’s right, they aim at the fly when they go. Now, they have focus and purpose. Their minds and their efforts are not spread all over the place.

The result? The tiles around the urinals would pass inspection in an operating theatre. The fly-in-urinal follow up research discovered that the introduction of a target reduced spillage and cleaning bills by 80%. The moral of my story? If you don’t have clear targets and goals for your business you can easily end up in a similar situation.

Without clarity of vision, how do you know your aiming in the right direction? If you don’t stay focused and on task you will end up in all sorts of mess, some of which will take more than a bucket and mop to clean up. It’s very easy to get distracted in business, it’s often difficult to know which direction you should be aiming in for the best results. You must have a plan. I’m not talking about a 50 page essay to appease the bank. I’m talking about a single sheet of paper that’s coffee stained and dog eared. One that you review daily.

I have devised my own “fly for businesses”. It’s a simple, single A4 plan to help business owners get focused and stay on the right road. A plan that will help them clarify their objectives and strategies. With this mapped out, it’s a simple enough task to create an action plan which ensures that every day your business is heading in the right direction and towards its ultimate goal. I’m happy to share this plan with anyone that could do with a little help and focus, just email me and I’ll send you the template.