There are days I feel like the kid in the movie the “Sixth Sense.” You know, “I see dead people” kid with the big blue eyes? But I don’t see dead people literally, I see dead processes and people figuratively.
I was born with the gift of seeing inefficiencies in organizations. It took me years to see this as a gift because it came so naturally, and I could not figure out why no one else could see what I saw. My grandfather loved telling everyone he came into contact with (not kidding), the story of me at age 2 or 3 pulling all the cereal boxes off the shelf at the local Giant Foods grocery store because I thought they needed to be better organized. Seriously? Why did it take a 2-year old to see that?
I am kidding (kind of?) because to this day, every time I walk into any type of business or organization, I can instantly spot no less than 5 ways something in the operation could be done more effectively to optimize the experience of the customers, the employees and ultimately the business. There is so much waste in companies today because no one is taking the time to make sure all the parts work together in a holistically healthy manner.
Just like our bodies start showing disease, discomfort, and dysfunction when all parts and systems are not working together for the good of the whole, so do organizations. I have seen the life sucked out of companies who get disjointed and compartmentalized.
The good news: it does not have to be that way. Here are 3 ways to put your business on the road to optimum health today:
Just like our spines can get out of alignment, so can the organization’s vision, purpose, and operational processes. It drives me batty to see mission and vision statements posted on a wall of a business that are so far from what the business delivers, it could be construed as fraud. Or even worse, companies that just do the thing with no vision or purpose behind what they are doing.
Give your organization an alignment by asking these 3 questions not just of yourself, but of your team:
What is our vision and purpose?
Can our people articulate the vision and purpose with clarity and without reading it on our website?
Do our processes and organization structure support the achievement of the vision and purpose?
If you answered, “I don’t know” or “no” to any of these questions, it’s time to get aligned.
Do you think you have a good grasp of the health of your organization? How do you know? If your answer is, “In the numbers”, think again. BMI, cholesterol, A1C and blood pressure readings are all indications of the health of your body, but they don’t tell the whole story. If the readings don’t meet the AMA guidelines, a good doctor will dig deeper to determine the root cause of your numbers instead of just giving you a pill.
Why? Because they are aware that poor numbers are indicators of potential illness. If your numbers meet the standards, good doctors don’t stop there. They ask questions about other aspects of your life, like family, work, and leisure because they are aware that your overall health is not solely bases on medical numbers - they know you are a holistic person: spirit, mind and body to dig a little deeper.
Become more aware by:
Leaving your office and talking to the people. Go find out how healthy your employees think the organization is.
Call your customers. Don’t ask them to fill out yet another survey for the bogus chance to win something. Talk to them and get their experience.
Be the stakeholder. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and try to interact with your people and process. Ask one of your employees to let you try to do their “job” for an hour. Experiencing your operation for yourself will be eye opening!
And if you think you are too busy to do any of these yourself, delegate it to a trusted adviser or objective third-party who will provide you open and frank feedback so that you can become more aware.
Whatever you find in steps 1 or 2, it is essential to address them. Take action to eliminate the root cause, not simply treat the symptom. Treating the symptom may stop the bleeding momentarily, but it will NOT heal the body. Issues will return repeatedly, or worse, cause breakdowns in another area. Can you say prescription drugs anyone?
Not sure where to start to address the challenge?
Assign a team to investigate the root cause and provide solutions.
Team already overwhelmed? Invest in a qualified expert that specializes in operational effectiveness.
Choose one area to personally lead to improvement. Your leadership demonstrates your commitment to the holistic health of your organization.
Please, please, please don’t look the other way. Address the issue so your customers, employees and even suppliers are energized, engaged and enriched by your company.
Operations that function as holistic organizations, aligned, aware and ready to address dysfunction are the ones that will weather any challenge and become more agile. Act holistically and stop bleeding your organization dry.
If any of the content in this blog, struck a nerve or sparked a question, click here and schedule a time for us to brainstorm solutions.
In our 30-minute conversation, I guarantee I will give you at least one glimpse into the “dead people and processes” that may be lurking in your organization.