Haste makes waste is a common saying. Another common saying is time is money. Time, like money, is always in short supply in organizations. Every moment is precious, so the question is: “If you don’t have time to spare, how do you have time to fix a problem when you did not have time to do things right the first time?”

Now, I recognize that every person and business will drop the ball at some point. It is simply human nature that sometimes we will lose track of a commitment, have an accident, or Murphy’s Law will come into play. When you rush to get things done, you can make mistakes and produce less than quality work. In your hurry to get things done, you could lose money, damage your reputation, and lose the customer. It is critical to your customer relationships, your credibility, and your business that quality of service, timeliness, and accuracy are maintained.

Diagnosing the Problem

So many of the issues that arise with quality, late delivery, errors, and other mistakes arise because we are so busy with busyness that we are not tending to business. We have organizations engaged in constant activity without productivity.

Answer these questions to diagnose your root cause:

  1. What is the capacity of your organization to produce and deliver products and services—on time, in correct quantities, with expected quality?
  2. Given the capacity of your organization and the number of customers you currently have, are you:
    1. At capacity (you don’t have resources to support more customers)
    2. Overcapacity (you have more customers and demand than you can serve), or
    3. Under capacity (you are able to serve more customers)?
  3. Based on your capacity analysis, has that capacity been set by:
    1. Physical constraints—equipment, the number of employees, etc.
    2. Policy/procedure constraints—your operational design and systems consume the resources (time and money) because they are inefficient, limited, or outdated.
    3. Financial constraints—you don’t have the funds to spend on adequate staffing, new equipment, etc.
    4. Leadership/management constraints—the how your organization is structured, managed and run.

Leadership and Management Constraints

In my experience over the past 30 years, I have found that the ultimate issue in organizations is how the business is being run. It is the day-to-day decision-making and the consistency or inconsistency of that decision-making (and accompanying communication) that makes or breaks the business.

Whether the companies are small or large, new or established, manufacturing or service, they deal with the same issues. Too often, the leadership says one thing and does another. The vision and the goals are set, but the resources, priorities, and systems are not aligned to meet those goals.

In fact, inconsistency and misalignment often pervade the organization to such an extent that the short term, fire-fighting, deal with what’s on our desk right now, is all that can get done. Many times the short-term trench warfare mentality of hunkering down and getting through it is all the organization can do. Often this is because the leaders are unwilling or unable to:

  • Clarify and communicate the long-term vision for the organization
  • Set clear goals
  • Put the customer first
  • Align the business mechanics and infrastructure (policies, procedures, systems, etc.) to the long term goal
  • Set realistic financial and non-financial metrics
  • Develop a plan of action and performance metrics balancing short and long term goals, individual and organizational performance
  • Implement financial budgets and other tools
  • Delegate the results without prescribing the methods
  • Recruit and retain the talent and skills needed
  • Make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains
  • Focus on productivity and results, not hours, face time, how we’ve always done it, etc.,
  • Measure performance and provide feedback

Align the Organization with Priorities

When you review the items above, you realize these are the things that align the organization. These critical items enable each member of the team to know the most important thing to work on. Too often the lack of direction and clarity of goals and purpose leads your team to see everything as equally important. Also, if your leadership and management team aren’t clear on how performance is measured, if the metrics of their performance isn’t aligned with the organizational goals, then your managers may redirect resources to non-productive uses.

If you want your organization to succeed, then you have to create an infrastructure of leadership that enables your organization to work on the right things at the right time. You want to focus your organization on productivity and results, not on being “busy.”

If you want to succeed, have your team focused on the critical, the core, the important, the customer, and their roles in making the business work like a well-oiled machine. When they are focused, you will see amazing results.

Copyright ©2016 Lea A. Strickland, F.O.C.U.S. Resource, Inc.

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