Factor 15, the Flywheel and that crew in Killarney

Factor 15

See you in 2012!

I’m getting ready for another day, up early and wondering what to wear ..

The rain pounding against the bedroom window and a night of strong winds rattling fence doors and outdoor tables and chairs guides me towards something sensible and yes we will be wearing a coat today. This was after a cold September night (I find that hard to say as don’t really want to admit that August, the summer of 2011 is done and dusted) when we had to fire up the heating for a while. Strangely enough that wasn’t the first time – in August we turned it on twice!

Grabbing a towel from the cupboard in the dark and something drops onto the floor – Light on..My God, I haven’t seen that in a while and I won’t be needing it again for a really long time unless we escape to somewhere sunny for a week (now there’s an idea!). It was a bottle of Factor 15 sun protection – I didn’t get to use much of this in 2011 – whichever way you cut it the summer was shocking and it has left a lot of us really disappointed. We could definitely have done with some (any ..) sunshine.

I illogically held onto the strange idea that we would have a great summer because we had a lousy winter and even more illogically that we would have a great summer because the usual “leaving cert” summer heat wave never happened. Indian summer – nah, doubt it..

What can we do?

At least we don’t depend on the weather too much for our business but it does to some extent as it would affect some of our clients working in the tourism sector and we do a lot of work in this area.

Tidy Town success for Killarney
Tidy Town success for Killarney

Yesterday was a huge day for one of our clients, The Killarney Chamber of Tourism & Commerce. They have just won the Tidy Towns competition for 2011 and unfortunately had to celebrate in terrible weather yesterday (5th Sept, 2011). In Killarney they are hugely dependant on the Tourism sector and as you imagine the lousy weather can’t have helped them a whole pile.

Ironically they had a great year despite the elements – you could put this down to many factors but as a close observer I put it down to simply doing the right thing consistently.

In my last blog I spoke about the fabulous book by Jim Collins, called Good to Great where he scientifically unearthed the factors that led to the sustained success of what he called “Great” companies.

The reasons for Killarney’s terrific Tidy Towns win and the terrific season is rooted in one of the success factors that Jim Collins talks about. He speaks about the Flywheel..

Initially it takes a lot of effort, toil and sweat to achieve a small movement to the flywheel – it takes a lot of people pushing and pushing in the same direction before you achieve any movement – eventually some momentum is achieved and with more and more pushing even more momentum is achieved. Before you know it the flywheel is moving quickly and just needs another nudge now and then in the right direction to maintain the momentum.

To the outside world it looks like it is easy, that success just came knocking on the door and it just had to be opened. To the people involved they are shocked at anyone that thinks it was easy – they remember the times when huge effort was required to achieve even the tiniest momentum.

Killarney – we have been working with them for about 6 years. Yes, they are blessed with the most incredible natural attributes but they have this team spirit, this rising tide mentality, this can do attitude, this belief that nothing happens by itself and that they need to be proactive at all times to achieve success.

Jaunting Cars - Killarney
Winning is Easy?

The town is beautiful, it is spotless, the tourist product is superb, the hotels, guesthouses and B&B’s know their business and are experts at delivering a genuine welcome. They have Summerfest, they have the Rally, they have Christmas in Killarney, they have the Irish Open, they have the right attitude. You may have noticed the teams of volunteers in Killarney, adults and children early in the mornings and late in the evenings painting, tidying, gardening and picking up rubbish all around the town – at one point this year there was a row because some of these guys refused to be featured in some PR shots for a TV programme.

That’s not why they are doing it” we were told. That goes against the grain with our Never Waste a Good Story mentality – very frustrating. It does tell you a big story about them – this is about collective pride in their town. Well done Killarney!

They can’t do anything about the rain but they can can decide how they go about their business – control what you can, go about your business in the best possible way and if the sun shines it’s a bonus!


Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

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