Most business owners start their companies so they can be their own boss – they want to get away from others telling them what to do. However, they forget, ignore or do not understand there is another side to that coin. Being a successful boss requires them to tell others what to do, and then make sure they do it.
Of the many hats, an owner wears “Leader” is usually the one he understands the least and does the most poorly. Unfortunately, it is the biggest responsibility he has. The majority of businesses fail because the owner was unable to do his job. He was an ineffective boss, who never learned how to run the company successfully. He was a policeman, firefighter, and babysitter, rather than a leader.
Organizational Engineering is a way for you to get out of the babysitting business.
It is an integrated system, with real-time feedback, transparent processes and easy to manage organizational tools. It can give you the skill and knowledge you need to run an efficient company. But, like anything worthwhile, it requires effort and commitment. Even so, what is the alternative?
Do you want your business controlling you, or do you want to control it?
These 4 steps are a good place to start if you want to use organizational engineering in your company. Be sure to include other people in this process. They will facilitate employee buy-in, bring new ideas and insight to old problems, keep you from having unrealistic expectations and help you stay on track. We all need reality checks.
1. Accurately identify the problem.
Before you can adequately address a problem, you must identify what the problem is. Your problem definition should be simple, clear and actionable. Beware – owners have a hard time seeing the real problem, often an outside pair of eyes is needed.
For example – The statement, “I need more money.” is not a statement you can work with. Look at the problems below and pick out which ones are the reasons you do not have enough money. Each problem might require its own action plan to fix it, which is why you need a workable problem definition.
- Margins too thin?
- No bidding process resulting in chronic under-bids?
- Productivity low?
- Poor quality – too much scrap, waste, warranty or rework?
- Employee theft?
- No profit built into estimates?
- Underperforming sales force?
- Too much inventory?
- Too many receivables?
2. What do you need to fix the problem?
After a problem is clearly defined figure out what you need to fix it (i.e., people, training, systems and procedures, equipment, money, outside help, materials, time, inventory). It is important to be honest about your strengths and limitations during this phase. Here are some questions to get you started.
What problem is the priority? What is 2nd and 3rd? Can I, and my employees, solve them? What experience, knowledge and skills do I have or do not have to fix them? Are my expectations realistic? How have I tried to fix this in the past, and why did it not work? What do I have to do differently this time? What metrics will I use to measure success or failure? What are my problem costs?
3.Create an action plan.
If you have done a good job on Steps 1 and 2, you will have the information required to put together an action plan. Break your requirements down into smaller and smaller parts until you arrive at a system both easy to understand and implement.
Coaches win by breaking a game down into manageable parts (i.e., plays, downs, offense, defense, special teams). Always keep asking – “Am I headed toward the goal posts? Am I fixing what I think I’m fixing?” It is not uncommon to find yourself off track, which is why other people should be a part of the process – no successful coach goes it alone.
4. Execute and repeat.
It is time to implement the protocols, policies, procedures, and processes you and your team created. If you have designed the metrics correctly, they will give you real-time feedback. Use the information to tell you if the plan is working; if it requires tweaking; or if a major overhaul is called for. Go back through the steps evaluating and revising until you get it right.
Remember every good coach and leader knows the secret to success – nobody gets it right the first few (hundred) times. The practice and repetition of a productive behavior is the thing which will make it permanent. The “new way” will become the “normal way,” and your problem will be solved.
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