Process Makes Perfect5 Nov, 2012 By: Jeffrey Hayzlett imageSource
Processes. No one likes them, but we gotta have them. Business leaders know the importance of processes. They don’t exist to make employees lives more difficult, (although some corporate processes are questionable); they exist because process makes business more efficient, and a well-oiled business is a profitable business. I am completely committed to incorporating systematic processes in my company – it assures a step-and-repeat process that drives us to achieve consistent success.
Ask any business leader where they’d prefer to invest their time: creating and enforcing processes, or working on revenue-generating ideas that grow the business. I guarantee – unless they work for Legal or HR – they’ll want to be driving new business ideas. Innovation is the lifeblood of business. Not processes. BUT, they remain vitally important, just as Legal and HR do.
I tell my teams, “I don’t care how the sausage is made unless someone dies. I get it. It’s sausage. Tell me how I can get things moving.” As a leader, I’ve already done what they’re doing, so I understand it, but I don’t need to know the day-to-day details, I just want to know how we’re using it to achieve growth. As a business leader, think about how you can adopt this approach with your teams, get them aligned and in agreement regarding your goals, methods and metrics, and stand firm. Incorporate your process and move on.
Don’t be afraid to go “old-school.” Tradition is called tradition because it has worked. Reverting back to pen and paper, hanging signs and posters on walls, writing cheat sheets in notebooks – they can all work. Sure, advancements in technology have allowed us the fortune of streamlining efficiencies and processes, so take advantage of those, too. Online and offline can be very complementary, so find something that works for you, your company, and what you stand for.
Whether I’m building a team of motivated marketers, smooth salespeople, or anything else, my first job is not getting them to sell the product; it’s developing the process so they can work together. It doesn’t matter the size of your team, the cool graphics on your website, or the hundreds of thousands of social media connections you have, if your team is not working together, the process is not working and the game is over. If your team is not playing from the same playbook, you’ve already lost.
Make people accountable. Processes provide a framework for change and results. You want to empower your team to grow efficiently and smartly and allow them the responsibility for thinking big and growing bigger. By not implementing and enforcing processes in your business, you are taking away the opportunity to allow your teams to innovate and drive success. “If you build it, they will come.”
Processes work in any size-business, but they are not one-size-fits-all. Whether I owned a small business or led a team of thousands, I have put processes in place. They outline to the team what your expectations are while offering your experience as far as the best ways to deliver on them. Also remember that the processes you implemented or followed in your last job or business won’t necessarily work for the business and/or teams you’re leading now. Customize each process according to who is responsible for performing it and for the tasks they need to perform.
Make it easy to remember. My experience in implementing processes has taught me that the best way for teams to perform them and keep them front of mind is to make them easy to remember. I like using acronyms as one example. In my first bestseller, The Mirror Test, I talked about my process for understanding value and asking questions: RACE (Research, Action, Communicate, Evaluate). Another acronym I’ve adopted has been SOAR (Superior operations, One company, Align resources, Replicate successes). Make signs and post them around your office as a reminder that the whole company, especially the leadership team, encourage and endorse the process.
The KISS principle. Keep it simple…please! Think about your taxes for a moment. The forms, the guides, the instructions – those processes seem like they’re written in another language, which make them difficult for almost everyone to follow. Convoluted processes do not an efficient team make. Be clear and make sure everyone understands what they need to do.
Apply the principle of Occam’s razor – one simple solution is often the best and right solution. If you have too many procedures that don’t empower employees or if the process is too complex, you inhibit speed.
My favorite organizing principle is a modified version of Thomas White’s Profoundly Simple FAST system: Focus, Accountability, Speed, Trust. Processes can be painless if everyone works together to make them work. Corporate cultures are hard to change. Change processes first. Speed is good, but FAST is better.