No X, No Z – No Business

Here is the challenge – talking about what needs to occur in business without using words which contain the letters x or z.  Why?  Well, several weeks ago I realized that my keyboard wasn’t working properly and I had written an article about organization and execution with the letters x and z missing.  You can imagine what the document looked like – all of those lovely red underlines indicating the spelling errors.  The article simply wasn’t what it should be without the letters x and z.

While the article was literally missing something, more importantly many businesses are missing those same elements – organization and execution.  These businesses are working hard at both, but seem to be missing a few key letters.  Without those letters, things just don’t seem to come together.

An article can be written about results without using x and z, but an entity without the underlying concepts will continue to miss the mark.  The underpinnings of organization and execution include the following:

  • Clear, measurable strategic goals
  • Meaningful milestones and performance metrics
  • Accountability for results
  • Alignment of activity
  • Ability to take action
  • Capability to assess and adapt to changing environment
  • Willingness to make mistakes
  • Identifiable opportunities
  • Ability to hear the bad news as well as the good (early and often)
  • Realistic assessment and selection of strategies and tactics which can be implemented

All of these factors lead to getting the right things done at the right time.  They mean using the resources you have to the best advantage.  They all mean businesses must be able to think, plan, do, and evaluate in a continuous process.

One of the best illustrations of organization – clear roles and alignment – can be seen in the insect world:  ants.  These tiny little creatures on their own and in their colony get more done than is humanly possible (pun intended).  Humans definitely can learn from these tiny little insects, and we can certainly learn to get more things done with our resources and how to keep our eye on the goal – build the business, maintain and support the infrastructure, and defend against environmental predators (competition).

Not only can those little guys organize, they are also able to execute their organizational plan, strategy, and tactics continuously.  They are able to maintain the ability to react to changes and internal or external threats – reallocating resources as needed, seamlessly.  Underlying all of their success is an ability to communicate clear roles and responsibilities and to have one clear mission – survival of the colony.

While ants don’t seem to have competitive behaviors within their colony (which we all know exist in our operations and groups), they do deal with competitiveness with external groups.  From observation, what goes on with other colonies (competition) is irrelevant until it threatens the colony’s survival (then it is attack, fight, and defend), but they always maintain the ability to act (or react) at a moments notice.

For businesses to survive and thrive, it is critical to have a strong, cohesive organizational identity; executable strategies, measurable objectives, and alignment of resources and activities.  These organizational factors impact the ability to execute at any level and to any degree.

Execution is using the resources you have to the maximum advantage and impact – today and long-term.  The balance between addressing an imminent threat – the loss of a major account – and pervasive danger – significant legislation that impacts how and where you do business, tax rates, and so on – comes from the organizational infrastructure in place.

Organizational infrastructure is the business’s management system.  The business management system is the manner in which the various components and elements of operations are connected and combined into a cohesive whole.  Everything – from  market position and its value to stakeholders to how administrative tasks are handled internally – comprises the business management system.  A business management system is not software, but may have software components which aid in gathering, analyzing, and reporting information – internally and externally.  A business management system is the body of the organization – the heart, the skeleton and the skin – which enables the business to execute.

Is your business missing out on the x and z factors?  Are you able to organize and execute the elements of your plan?  Do you have a plan?  The answers to these questions are the difference between where you are today and where you want to be in the future.

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