Ensuring that the activities that are occurring in your business are actually moving you toward a goal.
When I speak with business owners, I usually hear about how they are extremely busy, but they aren’t experiencing the levels of revenue that they think are appropriate, or they are interested in rapid growth. Their businesses might be moving a lot of product or they may going to a lot of events or they are meeting with a lot of people. They are simply doing.
But to what end?
Doing isn’t the end all to be all. What we must focus on is progress.
Moving from the mentality of doing for the sake of doing to performing and producing in a way that allows a company to achieve its goals, is a game-changer, but also a necessity for you to build and run a business that is extraordinary.
My wife works for a large corporation where in she spends a great deal of time crunching numbers and helping them find holes and solutions to filling the holes. She is on a team of maybe 10 people who also do similar work. Watching the ten and seeing the glorious reports they put together would have someone who was watching the team thinking that it a high-performing one.
From an external perspective, it sounds as though the problem with the team is that even though everyone is moving, they often duplicate the same information, and have, at time, produced inconsistent results (my wife’s is always right of course! ). That, in turn, creates at least two inefficiencies – 1 – duplication of efforts and 2 – when inconsistencies exist, the source or sources of the problem must be uncovered – before they can even address any real issues!
(In a small business, of course, that could never happen. Every single one of your employees treats your clients the way you would, they all work as hard, they use the policies and procedures manual to ensure that everything is being done exactly the way you envisioned, and your tax and accounting professional only has to do a cursory review of your books because they are always spot on. )
The other thing that happens in my wife’s role is that change requires working through layers of different individuals and teams, each with different goals, expectations and priorities. For example, the sales department is looking to maximize the number of clients and client retention whereas accounting is looking for profit maximization. These different lines of thinking can create conflict and be a barrier to getting things done in the company.
The solution is actually two-fold:
- Get everyone thinking about progressing toward the same goal. When different individuals or different teams are working together, and each has a different agenda, it is difficult for the team to perform at its potential. This boils down to having clear missions and visions for the company, then creating supporting missions and visions for business units and teams. The keyword here is supporting; they should be aligned with the company goals and in consideration of other teams. Keep in mind that conflict can be productive and can produce better results than assembly-line like thinking. Unless you are involved in the US government shutdown.
- The second part of the solution has to do with process. Process for the sake of process means that people do the same things, repeatedly, without consideration for the company’s goals. Processes should be engineered from the perspective of strategy – how the company will execute on its strategic initiatives. When a company says, for instance, that they want to increase sales by 45%, first we talk about how this can be done, then what specific tactics need to take place in order for this it to happen. Those tactics are either process or require process to be developed.
For example, the tactics might be to go out and get more sales. Process will describe the tasks that need to be done in order to fulfill the tactics, repeatedly, and make adjustments to the process in order to operate at the highest level of efficiency.
At the end of the day, addressing both alignment with the company mission and vision (why it needs to be done), strategy (what needs to be done) and process (how it needs to be done), we can see the parallel between internal production and the way that our clients might go about buying from us, or the buying process.
Ensure that activities have a measurable end that is in support of your company’s mission and vision. Know what the measurable components are (number of sales appointments, widgets produced, cost of goods sold, etc.) and track them so that you have a basis to make decisions and can ensure that the activities are actually productive. Being busy for the sake of busyness is a waste of resources and will cause your company to miss out on revenue, market leadership and being an extraordinary business.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Consultant at Aepiphanni, the trusted advisor for business leaders who are seeking forward-thinking solutions to help them plan for and navigate through the challenges of business growth. Our entrepreneurial multidisciplinary team works with clients to develop differentiating solutions and provide direction focused on lasting, strategic results. We exist to help our clients CREATE | DESIGN | BUILD extraordinary businesses.
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