Counting with cadence is crucial to keeping uniformity and synchronization in songs and marches within the military. On this episode of Veteran Led, John Berry explains how incorporating these rhythmic flows into a business’s culture can keep teams aligned, prevent bottlenecks, and build organizational habits. Joh will explain how implementing regular meetings, measuring progress towards goals, and celebrating wins, can create a cadence that keeps everyone in sync and motivated.
Welcome fellow veterans. From the tip of the spear to in the rear with the gear, I went from active-duty Infantry to reserve-component logistician. I’m your host, CEO, entrepreneur, trial lawyer, and Lieutenant Colonel Retired, John Berry. The military lessons that I learned helped me grow an eight-figure business that has maintained consistent annual double-digit growth, landing on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest growing companies in America every year for the past seven years, and has allowed me to continue to serve America’s heroes.
Welcome to Episode 17: Follow a Cadence. If you want to go far, go with a team and stay in step.
Cadence. Cadence creates culture. But before we get there, let’s think back to when the first time you learned about cadence. Maybe it was marching. Or, more than likely, it was the first time you ever got smoked doing a bunch of push-ups where you heard, “And cadence! Exercise 1, 2, 3, 1, 1, 2, 3,2!” Until you were smoked. You may even have fond memories of double timing in cadence during a company run. And you probably have horrible memories of that division, brigade, battalion run where you were the company in the back, and everyone was doing the airborne shuffle at a 14 minute pace and you’re feeling the accordion effect where you’re walking one minute and sprinting the next.
Cadence is important, and the reason why cadence is important is because it keeps us aligned. It prevents bottlenecks. It helps us to work as a team. And when we’re building a culture, we don’t want it to happen by accident. We want it to happen as part of a cadence. And so at Berry Law, some of the things that we did to establish our culture was to have that cadence. The first thing, Monday morning at 0800, we had Stand-To, and that’s based on Rogers’ Ranger Stand-To, and you probably remember this where you were in a patrol base, pulling security right before sunrise. That’s our Stand-To, and that becomes part of our culture.
Similarly, we have a leadership meeting that meets every Tuesday, 11 o’clock, only one hour. There’s a very tight schedule, an agenda that is always followed, and we never miss the meeting. That becomes part of our culture. We start on time, we end on time, and the cadence of having that meeting every single week allows us to be aligned. It allows the leaders to get together. Because in any organization, the most important team Is the leadership team, and the leadership team must be aligned. If you can’t keep your leadership team in cadence, in line, you got problems. As much as I don’t like meetings, I will tell you that having a cadence for meetings is crucial.
I can think of being on a battalion staff where we had a battle rhythm and I saw that division staff, a battle rhythm where there’s a whole rhythm of meetings and you know, every day, which meetings you’re going to be at. it’s on this circular clock looking diagram, but a battle rhythm or a cadence is important because that is how you establish the habits of the organization.
Another part of our cadence is “All Call” on Fridays, we have every Friday at 1645. Now, Daniel Alarik helped me create this and he wanted to make it 30 minutes, we pared it down to 15 minutes, but essentially it boils down to this; we have three sections. Each section has an annual goal. Every Friday we measure the progress towards that goal, and we publish it to the entire organization with the entire organization present. So we all know how we are progressing. That is just part of our cadence. And then we break down the major wins for the week. We celebrate those wins. We then have a safety brief. After the safety brief, we do a three toast salute to those who served and continue to serve, to the family members who served along with us, and to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. After we have those toasts, everybody leaves for the day, which usually means they hang out, socialize, and get ready for the next week.
Once again, this is all part of a weekly cadence. We also have a monthly cadence, a quarterly cadence, an annual cadence, but you get it. It becomes part of the culture. It is how we do the things. It’s when we do the things it’s where we do the things. This is how the cadence develops the culture. Once everybody falls in line with the cadence and we’re all in step, everybody’s present for meetings. Everybody contributes at meetings. Everybody feels heard. And most importantly, the organization stays synchronized.
You probably remember the sync matrix from a major operation where it seemed that every section had to be lined up for every single piece of the battle. Something had to happen and fall in place and work for the entire organization to be successful.
It is the same way in business, but that will not happen if people are not in sync and you’re not in cadence. And that cadence is important because when people start missing meetings, you start to fail. The information isn’t there. You’re making decisions without the entire picture and more importantly, the culture of the organization can become much more fractured. It becomes much more siloed. All of a sudden there are groups that are not participating in the meetings, not participating in the decision making and they feel disenfranchised. So it is important that part of your culture is to have that cadence and to make sure that everyone shows up, just like formation.
Remember before you can be moving in a cadence, you need to be in formation lined up, ready to go until you’re given the command to march or to move out. When you’re in cadence, you’re building that organizational alignment, and when you get out, you’ll feel it when someone’s out of step, you can feel the disalignment in the organization, and you’ll see it in the bottom line, you’ll see it in the profitability of the organization, because once you get out of cadence or out of step, you’re going to see bottlenecks in the organization, and you’re going to see team members stumble.
One of the challenges that as the organization grows and it gets out of cadence, you may have a marketing team that is bringing in a ton of leads that the sales team is not adequate to close, or worse, you’re selling a bunch of goods, but you can’t deliver because there’s a bottleneck in the distribution point. But look, cadence is important to an organization. And it’s important because we can only move as fast as the slowest team member. And more importantly, we know that if we get out of step, we as an organization are going to stumble.
After Action Review: Number 1. Cadence builds organizational alignment. Number 2. Major efforts must be synchronized. Number 3. Cadence builds culture.
Three Down: Number 1. If a key team member gets out of step, the entire organization stumbles. Number 2. To avoid bottlenecks, keep your slow runners up front. Figure out what is going to slow down the organization and let that set the pace. Number 3. The bigger you get, the harder it is to stay in cadence.
Thank you for joining us today on Veteran Led, where we pursue our mission of promoting veteran leadership in business, strengthening the veteran community, and getting veterans all of the benefits that they earned. If you know a leader who should be on the Veteran Led podcast, report to our online community by searching @veteranled on your favorite social channels and posting in the comments. We want to hear how your military challenges prepared you to lead your industry or community, and we will let the world know. And of course, hit subscribe and join me next time on Veteran Led.
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