Leading the Organization that Survives: The Business as a System

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It seems like, when running a business, there are a million things that need to be done at any moment: employees need to get paid, vendors are dropping off new products, there is a leak in the bathroom and oh, yeah, you have to take care of your customers.  Often times, when managing the fires, leaders tend to focus on what is right in front of them at the moment � those things that are urgent.  Makes sense, right?

But how many of those �urgent� things are actually important?  Which of the important things are most important?  Which of the important things actually are urgent?

Businesses are like systems � kind of like a human body.  A system is always looking to be complete, or operate at its maximum.  In the case of a human, if you don�t have any food to eat, you�re probably not going to be interested in  buying a big fancy car � or any car for that matter.  If you don�t have any place to live, getting additional education or taking a vacation will probably fall by the wayside.  In other words, your needs, as a human are prioritized, whether you think about it or not.

In the same way, businesses have needs that can also be prioritized.  Where we as business leaders fail, at times, is when we put too much emphasis on high level priorities, such as dumping tons of money or resources into brand development or product innovation and miss the low level ones such as SWOT awareness or financial controls.

Part of understanding the needs of your organization also lies in knowing where your business lies on the growth cycle.  Again, we can compare the business growth cycle to that of a human.  When we discuss the growth cycle, we look at three distinct areas � Existence, Evolution and Emergence, beyond which, include experienced level and expiration stages � which are the antithesis of growth�so we won�t focus on them.

The Existence stage is when your business is a baby�the business is completely dependent  on you � seeking direction, stability, predictable resources and safety

The Evolution stage is when the business is becoming a teenager � somewhat stable in its ways, though tempted to get into everything that is thrown at it.  It is beginning to seek its own identity, walking on its own, but still requiring a great deal of guidance, and beginning to develop strong relationships � and figuring out how to keep them.

The Emergence stage is those early adult years where identity seems to be everything.  The business is up, walking around, talking about where it has been, what it is going to do, always trying to create something new and unique to accentuate its individuality.

If you�ll notice, in each stage, there is a different set of needs that is focused on.  Now, that doesn�t say that once the business reaches the evolutionary stage, that the existence-level needs are already met.  The perspective is actually the opposite � at the existence level, meeting the base level needs are going to be the business�s focus.

Once looking at the business like a system, it becomes relatively easy to identify what needs to be done, �next,� whether that means reviewing some lower-level priorities for the business, or stepping up to the next level of existence for the organization.  This allows business leaders to determine what fires truly need to be addressed by them � remember urgency versus importance � where the business is in its growth cycle and how to steer the business clear of Expiration. 

In the next segment, we�ll discuss what priorities exist at each level.  Knowing each level�s priorities, and being committed to managing that way is the second key to Leading the Organization that survives.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].

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