I know I need to, but...
In a recent conversation with Merger and Acquisition advisor Brent Freeman, he described how often suggestions he's made to business owners on things they can do to increase their valuation aren't done. They say, among other excuses, "I know I need to, but I don't have enough time." Scott Belt of impact CFO services agreed, saying "even when they know they need to, they don't or won't."
Everyone suffers from the "I know I need to, but…" bug. Once this bug hits an organization, it can spread like wildfire. So, what can you do?
The Value of Systems and Structure
We can learn a lot from the weight loss industry, exercise classes, boot camps, and even marathon training programs. They provide a system that includes the structure necessary for the system to be implemented fully and successfully. Having a well-defined structure within an equally well-defined system helps people achieve goals more easily and reliably.
The system defines the model. It is the theories and concepts on which the underlying structure is based. David Allen's Getting Things Done system is based on certain ideas on how to be better organized and get more done. The system includes well-defined practices and tools that create the structure necessary to implement the system successfully. Without the structure (tools and processes), the system would never be implemented.
Applying Systems and Structures in Business
Those familiar with Lean Six Sigma and Kaizen understand the application of systems and structure in a business framework. Maybe you've implemented a cloud-based team communication and management system. It is also based on certain theories and it uses clearly-defined structures and tools to facilitate the use of the system. The structure and tools make the system usable.
Most companies have at one time implemented systems for individual processes like project management, manufacturing, or even HR and payroll. Yet, very few companies have implemented any kind of system for operating their entire company. Thus, functions with a system in place run smoothly, while others falter and fail.
Implementing a Company-Wide System
- A company-wide system will include structures and tools that:
- Align the entire leadership team around a shared vision that includes their culture, their goals, and a plan for achieving the goals.
- Facilitate the alignment of the entire organization around the shared vision.
- Weed out those that don't align with or aren't effective in achieving the vision.
- Defines and actively uses metrics to track against the vision and the activities that will achieve the vision.
- Increases accountability and the discipline necessary to achieve the vision.
- And, that build an organization that is more open, honest, cohesive, and functions better as a whole.
Regardless of the "operating system" you choose for your company, to succeed it must be based on a model or theory to which every leader agrees. The structures and tools that make up the system must be easy enough to use that they get used. And, it must include a social aspect that encourages accountability, discipline, and openness.
Doing what you know you need
To bring this full circle, it's nearly impossible to defeat the "I know I need to, but…" bug without a system and structure. With a few exceptions, humans are just too easy distracted, perhaps even more today than in pre-texting and Twitter days. Systems and structure enable us to more easily accomplish what we know we need to accomplish.