As owners and members of the leadership team, you deal with the risk and responsibility for getting it right, making it right and keeping it right for the business, your employees and your customers. I’ve previously written about the importance of the three P’s – People, Process and Perseverance. Expanding from that earlier view, I’ve added a few other related areas that a leadership team should consider into their decision making process. Before I forget, I can tell you that this is going to be a multi-part blog. Just too much to cover over one cup of coffee. Here’s my updated list:
- Solving your customer’s problem
- Equipment, technology and automation
- Your team
- Policy and procedures (and compliance)
- Business transition
Solving your Customer’s Problem
So let’s start with solving your customer’s problem. First of all, do you really know what it is? Is it a cheap price or increasing the effectiveness of the project? Is it trying to streamline the production process, reduce timelines and be first to market or is it trying to introduce an enhanced data-driven strategy? As you can see, the range of issues could be very broad and difficult to pin down.
You’ll need to determine how they define success with their projects and what some of the pain points have been in the past. You’ll also make a positive impact by separating what they think they want vs. what they really need and discussing those issues with the stakeholders. And finally, are they motivated and engaged enough to actually make the necessary changes to make it better – how bad does it hurt!
When you begin to look at all the choices today around equipment, technology and automation, the decisions are not always clear and the rate and pace of change doesn’t show signs of letting up anytime soon. To make your best decisions though, Stephen Covey would say you must “first start with the end in mind.” Answering the “where are you going, what problems are you solving for your customers and what tools will you need to effectively get there” question is a good place to start. Actually, if you haven’t answered that question you may be just chasing the next new cool technology – good luck with that.
Then there are the tools that enable you to perform at breakneck speeds and that operate behind the curtain, away from the customers. These include things such as your MIS and a CRM to track the progress of all that new business that your sales team is working on. And don’t overlook the job-processing automation that would include storefronts, imposition and file automation to load the job queues on your devices. Many choices, many decisions to be made.
Who’s on First and the Rest of your Team
For those who read a lot about leadership teams and what makes them effective, you know that there are many books and articles that cover this topic. I did stumble on this post by Evan Roth the other day in Forbes and though it was right on the mark, Great Leadership Teams Say These Six Things About Each Other. In the post he highlights these six things:
- It’s not about me, but the team.
- I have your back.
- We presume the best intent.
- We believe in each other.
- They make me better.
- We disagree with one another.
I would encourage you to get the article and use it as a discussion topic at your next team meeting. If your team is struggling, this could be one of the factors that is holding you back from being as effective as you could be.
Everyone has them, policies, procedures, best practices and SOP’s. They may be in memo or email form or in a handbook or perhaps on your internal wiki. They are usually handed out when a person starts with your company and are updated as time goes by. The $37 question though is how well are they followed? They are designed to reflect your best practices throughout the organization so compliance shouldn’t be an issue, right? When problems or mistakes do happen, did we follow our best practices and it still failed or did we take a shortcut because “we were under a huge time constraint?” Shouldn’t your best practices be designed to work effectively under a load? If they don’t, or if you just aren’t following them then either change and update the practice, determine if additional training is needed, chalk it up to a simple mistake and learn from it, or re-assign the person (maybe to a competitor).
So much more to cover on these topics, I hope to have more in another post. If you have any thoughts on these or would like to share what’s going on in your world, please get in touch with me. Good luck.