Taking your company Beyond
Beyond takes you further than earlier goals programs or Lean initiatives. It gives you a comprehensive Prescription to follow. The Prescription Process will continually organize and improve your business through your team. Initially, it will be like going to your doctor with some symptoms that are bothering you—some that may not be apparent to you, some that you may have been disregarding for years, and some that you may want to ignore completely.
Your doctor will assure you that she will uncover your problems' true causes and then make you better. She will already have books of symptoms and their causes for reference. If she doesn't have the right references, she will get the ones she needs. She will ask you to describe your symptoms in detail. She will then examine you, looking for more clues, and send you for testing. Tests might include an X-ray, a CT scan, or an internal exam like a laryngoscopy to get as much information as possible to aid in her diagnosis.
Using your description, the results of the tests, and conferences with colleagues, your doctor will make an analysis, and a diagnosis will follow. She will set up a treatment regimen. You will be involved and consulted.
Only then will she prescribe specific medications. She will tell you that this medicine has helped many with similar symptoms. The results of taking these medications will be tracked through follow-up appointments and evaluations. Your doctor will not release you until the true causes of your problems are found and treated, and your symptoms are gone. You are cured. The symptoms should never return again.
Beyond will be similar. It will start by reaffirming the purpose of a business and espousing the premise that every company, even your company, can be better—probably a lot better! Given that premise, it will share with you the common, undesirable symptoms found in other companies that could be doing better. Next, it will catalog and prioritize the shortcomings found in actual companies that had issues and have been helped. It will be interesting to note the high percentage of companies that exhibited these shortcomings. In most cases, management would have disagreed or were not even aware that these shortcomings existed.
Beyond will ask if you recognize some of these symptoms and shortcomings that your company might have. You may have been choosing to ignore them. If so, it is now time to expose them and deal with them, once and for all. It's time to move beyond.
Don't be afraid to go out on a limb. That's where the fruit is.
If you do not recognize any of the symptoms or shortcomings, and you feel your company is running well, you may see no need to change. However, you may be missing some prospects.
To help find those missing prospects, the Prescription outlines four proven diagnostic techniques to uncover the unvarnished, current condition of your company. This is the examination phase. You may be surprised what you will learn.
One of those techniques will recommend that you look in the mirror, to give you confidence that others are seeing you as you see yourself ... or not! A second technique will ask you to get a reading from your customers as to how well your company is doing for them and what they seek going forward. The third technique is a survey for addressing the six critical operating functions that drive bottom-line performance. Last, the Prescription will reacquaint you with SWOT, an exercise to determine the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing your company. This exercise will be used to rank tasks designed to perk up the company.
These four techniques will complete the diagnosis and give a clear picture of the current condition of your company.
The SWOT part of the Process allows participative introspection, a burst of suggestions, an evaluation and prioritizing of ideas for the improvement of the company. Strengths will be highlighted with the prospect of building on them. Weaknesses will be revealed and then recorded, without finger-pointing or animosity. The Process is eye-opening yet nonantagonistic.
Following it will help everyone understand their peers, their managers, the company, and the company's customers better.
The knowledge gained will then be applied to drafting GAMES and building a Plan. As a result, your team will be identifying opportunities that will help endear your company to your customers as well as employees, reduce costs, and increase profitability as long as the Process is maintained. The teams will determine priorities, volunteer to take them on, be committed to complete them, and monitor their own performances. Just let them do it! This is the treatment to go beyond.
Many executives say they delegate, but they don't.
You might be wondering, "Shouldn't we be looking at the financials, the monthly P&L and balance sheet, to help determine the condition of the company?" The answer is yes, because they may show you general areas of concern, such as revenues that are too low or are going down monthly, profits that are dropping, expenses that are growing, and so on. But these are symptoms.
The financials are a report card on what the company has been doing. It may be good. It may be bad. But no matter what it is, it will not get better simply by looking at it. Nor will the situation get better if you only manage from those numbers. In other words, companies have to change what they have been doing and how they have been doing it, and then the financial results will change.
Beyond works on the foregone conclusion that no matter how well or poorly your company is doing, only changing what you do and how you do it before the financials are published will affect future outcomes. Following the Prescription Process should affect those outcomes positively.
Financials are the report card for the good and bad decisions that were made long before the financials are published.
The four diagnostic techniques mentioned above will help you explore and then determine what changes are in the company's best interest.
Some of these explorations may shout "change." If not, they may just point to "modify." Whichever it is, the Prescription will lead you through a Process to set up a Plan that should transform or tweak how the company operates. It will introduce you to GAMES that will allow many potential enhancements to be taken on and completed. It's a game changer!
No Plan, No Progress!
Tackling these potential enhancements in an orderly fashion, a fashion that will be replicated over time, will most likely require alterations from your existing ways of doing business. The Prescription Process will guide you through these changes.
To get headed in the right direction, you will be challenged to reaffirm, define, or redefine what you want your company to be in the future. Your vision, supported by the board and/or owner(s), will be instrumental in redirecting the company.
In making changes, every company needs to recognize and embrace which stakeholders come first, second, and third. It also needs to know where it is weak, where it is strong, where favorable conditions exist for gaining new customers, and where there may be potholes to avoid. Exploring and expressing these, using some or all of the four diagnostic techniques, creates an open atmosphere and develops guidelines for initiatives to serve all stakeholders well. Addressing the stakeholders' needs, as well as the weaknesses and opportunities in a well-developed Plan, will be a major step toward building a new, stronger, more progressive, and participative culture.
Take great care of customers first, employees next, and the owners will realize all they can hope to get.
As with any proposed change, the team needs to accept and support it. In other words, to be successful, the team has to buy in to the idea of change. A great attribute of the GAMES portion of the Prescription Process is the involvement of the team from the outset. The fact that they come up with almost all of the initiatives that will be taken on as Goals is a buy-in from the start!
But that does not absolve you, the leader, from championing the need for change, cheering on the progress, and continually selling the present and future benefits. Change also requires leadership to cultivate a safe environment that supports transformation. A safe environment is one in which there is not constant judgment, where open contributions and discourse are embraced, and calculated risk- taking is acceptable.
Leaders can only lead where followers are willing to go.
Besides a total commitment to and selling of the new approach, your contribution will be to add your expertise to the Process. In developing a Plan, you will take your knowledge and experience and use them to separate the wheat from the chaff ... if your subordinates haven't done it before you. Before the Plan is solidified, you will have a chance to review, modify, and adjudicate what has been proposed.
You are not giving up your authority or control. You are just giving your team the chance to become better focused, take on more of the burden, and be recognized and rewarded for doing so. In your role as reviewer, coordinator, and adjudicator, you will still govern the directions and outcomes—quietly. Your leadership, guidance, and support will determine the rate at which your team will adopt these new approaches and the speed at which the company will garner results.
The tempo of the leader determines the pace of the pack.
Following the GAMES format, the selected, reviewed, and approved Goals will be documented and become the company's Plan. Recording and editing are made easy by an app that you will be able to download from the Internet. (See Appendix B.) Before these initiatives are begun, you will have tools to predict their success.
No matter how earnestly you desire to have a workable Plan, it will only be as good as the Process used to develop it and the commitment of the leadership to its implementation. Most plans fail due to lack of employee involvement, and not enough ongoing management dedication and follow up. Expectedly, following the Process outlined in the Prescription, and using the GAMES format for your business Plan's development and execution will help to substantially improve outcomes.
The exercise used for uncovering and ranking possible opportunities, which will become Goals, is relatively painless. As a matter of fact, it is energizing in that everyone, even the folks who were seldom heard from before, now gets every chance to contribute. Everyone should feel good about that!
There will be many steps to take, from identifying opportunities to actually publishing a Plan that includes Goals using GAMES. Each step is outlined in the Prescription. Once the Plan is published, it is time to implement the activities, labeled Actions, needed to reach and complete each Goal.
Working on Actions may not be routine or methodical, given day- to-day needs. It is hard. So much to do, so little time to do it. And, soon enough, some participants will start saying, "Did I really want to change how we were doing this? My department doesn't really want to change. I don't really want to change. It's difficult!" Yes, it is!
If you're not moving ahead, you're falling behind.
That is why change is not for the faint of heart.
I have been involved with a few companies that bailed on their Plans when they saw, or were shown, what needed to actually change. Too set in their ways. Too afraid. Did not want to give up anything.
For the majority who had the courage to forge ahead through the trials and tribulations, good things started to happen. Slowly at first, then building. For those who stuck with the Prescription Process using GAMES, great strides were accomplished. This can be your fate too!
To get through the early problems will require cheerleading, commitment, communication, and support for the teams. Don't forget a strong will.
Success comes in cans, not can'ts.
The results of the first Cycle may not meet your expectations. Typically your teams will have bitten off more than they can chew. But that's normal and good. During each Cycle, you will also find it taxing to channel everyone's energy. They will have to be more focused because they will be committed to completing work that will typically be more substantive and broader in scope than their usual tasks. It is a learning experience. The proactive folks will embrace the change and deliver; the methodical employees will wish it would go away.
The second Cycle will see the less committed get the picture: that this is serious and the way things will be. They will see that their peers have succeeded and have been recognized, and they will see that the company is improving. By then, they should be responding more positively. If not, maybe they belong in a more staid environment—somewhere else.
After a few Cycles, you will have mostly proactive players, and the results will be multiplied.
Your continued involvement and support will be important. Later, once progress is recognized, compliments, recognition and celebrations will be in order. At the end of each Cycle, you will be expected to acknowledge the good results. The Prescription will give some very effective suggestions on how to enjoy the positive progress being made.
Even though every initiative adopted as a Goal may not get done, you will be amazed at the progress that has been made by the end of each Cycle. One hundred percent of the Goals will probably not be met. But if only 70 percent get done well, the company will be way ahead.
Believe me. I grew more than one company from small to very large, and always profitably, using this approach. (There was one start-up, however that was sold before becoming profitable.)
To etch this new method of managing into the character of your company, to make it become deep-rooted, the Prescription Process must be done repeatedly. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it!
Remember the saying, "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again?" In Beyond it goes, "If at first you do succeed, do it over again."CHAPTER 2
A business's main purpose is to make money—not for greed, but to stay viable by serving customers well and by being able to reinvest, create jobs, give raises and bonuses, promote its best employees, support its communities and, oh yes, pay back investors.
Business is a game played with real money and real people. Sometimes you play with your own money, sometimes with others' money. No matter. You always have to make decisions as if you're playing with your own money—your own company!
Playing the game is fun if you are winning. But if your company is not growing or is not profitable, the game is a heartache. No matter what your current situation is, it could be better. Poor companies can get richer; great companies can get greater.
Think like there is no limit!
As a key executive, you have responsibility for the company's or your department's well-being. You have to show a profit or make a budget! As a professional leader, you want to accomplish as much as possible. You want to grow the company, provide good jobs, pay fair wages, offer opportunity to those who contribute, and so on. You are in a position to influence great advances toward customer and employee satisfaction, sales growth, profitability, and your own fulfillment.
Decide as if it were your company. Decide as if it were your money.
At this time, your company may be doing well, or it may be faced with nagging problems, or it may just be meandering along with little change. But what potential does it have? Can it double in size in the next year or two? Can it become international? Can profits increase by millions of dollars next year and every year thereafter? The answers to those questions lie in how the company is led, staffed, organized, and challenged.
Again, no matter where you are on this scale, your company can be better—really!
Many companies and executives have great ambitions and visions but do not realize them as quickly as they would like. Why not? Maybe there is only a limited market for a company's products. Maybe there is no extra money to invest in modern equipment. Maybe the banks have the company on a leash, the team is mired down, or there is too much politicking going on to get things done quickly.
The answer for "Why not?" is found in how the team is organized to produce great results. Does everyone on the executive team know where he or she is supposed to be going? Is the team in lock step? Is the team succeeding? How do team members stack up to competitors? Does each member know?
"The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been." —Henry Kissinger
Your role is to guide them there by helping them succeed, to become better than the competition.