Operating a business in a state of control is essential to growth and high performance. When we first meet with company leadership, we often find that businesses do not grasp this key principle and are not managed in a state of control. When we say to business owners that they do not have control of their business, this message is typically either very poorly received, as though leadership doesn’t want to hear it, or the problem is acknowledged, but with great frustration. Whether leadership wants to hear this message or not, it is not terribly difficult to diagnose whether a business is being managed in a state of control. Any business that is not in control will have several of these common characteristics.
- Work that is undefined
- Missing or ineffective metrics
- No feedback, either internally or externally
- Unclear responsibilities and accountabilities
- No regular monitoring and review
- No established problem solving
- Superstars everywhere trying to overcome the deficiencies
Alternatively, taking control of your business means systematically addressing the various shortcomings shown above. Anyone can gain control of their business by implementing the following changes.
How to Really Take Control of Your Business
1. Define Work.
The work in any organization can be clearly defined through the documentation of business systems, business processes, tasks, and knowledge. The improvement of any organization begins by first understanding what work is being done and how that work contributes to serving customers.
It is important to measure what matters in any organization. All measures can simplistically be defined as either an effectiveness measure or efficiency measure. Measuring effectiveness evaluates the organization’s value proposition and the extent to which that value proposition satisfies its customer. Alternatively, measuring efficiency evaluates the amount of resources used to effectively serve the customer.
Feedback must come to every business process within the organization. It should begin with external customer feedback and move back along through every business process delivering work within the organization.
Because most organizations are structured along vertical and functional lines, responsibilities and accountabilities are vague and difficult to assign. Leadership should completely rethink organization structures and align them directly along business systems and business process workflows.
The performance of every business process should be reviewed weekly, the performance of every business system should be reviewed monthly and enterprise reviews should take place quarterly.
By documenting organization workflows, many opportunities will arise that should be clearly defined, captured, prioritized and solved. In our work we find that typically about 50% of all opportunities can be resolved within 90 days
Superstars will not overcome a business that is out-of-control in the long run. Leadership must choose to place it’s key performing employees in roles that will facilitate the building of a sustainable business system based on workflow management.
Taking control of the business is simple, just not easy. It’s a little bit like running a professional football team, where most organizations replace coaches and general managers annually in an attempt to create a winning team, while other, more successful organizations build long-term foundational business systems that deliver superior results over time. This quote shown below is well stated by Cho, the former Board Chair of the Toyota motor company.
“We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes – while our competitors get average or worse results from brilliant people managing broken processes.”
– Cho, Toyota Motor
- How to map business processes
- How to create a business system diagram
- How to transform your business