Dipple column: Keep business management simple, focused
To be an effective CEO, you must adopt a big-picture perspective.
As a leader, don’t overcomplicate business. Keep it simple and straightforward. Simplicity allows for clarity of focus and focus allows for superior performance. Here is a simple framework to guide your enterprise.
If you’re owner/CEO, you are responsible for the company’s leadership process (direction, strategy, focus, goals, accountability) and the business development process (building a systems-based business that is self-managing, self-improving and nearly runs itself).
You need only a handful of additional processes in place: marketing, selling, operations (customer fulfillment), customer service and back-office functions.
The marketing process generates leads, the selling process generates customers by closing leads and the operations process fulfills the promises made to the customer. Completing the business cycle is the customer service process that follows up to ensure satisfaction with the transaction and uncover any unmet needs.
The purpose of any business is to find, satisfy and keep customers. So marketing, selling, operations and customer service processes should be your top priorities and areas of focus. Other functions, while important, should be secondary and support this main mission. Back-office support functions are: a finance/ accounting process to manage money; human resources to manage employee issues; and infrastructure to manage technology, facilities, administration, etc.
Spend your time and energy focusing on your company’s core processes and competencies ó the functions that you do extremely well as an organization and those that add real value to the customer. Keeping business simple will help you stay focused on what is most important.
To simplify your business and your life even more, consider outsourcing (turning over day-to-day responsibility to an outside provider) such back-office functions as payroll processing, tax preparation, legal, human resources, technology, facilities management, etc. Seek advice from an accountant, attorney or banker about outsourcing arrangements.
Planning for results
How do you create a simple business plan and achieve results?
You must keep things simple and focused. With your team’s involvement, agree on and set yearly goals. Then, on a 90-day cycle, gather your team and hold your people accountable for the agreed-upon results. This implementation process is just as important as the goals. Don’t tolerate excuses; insist on execution and results.
In short, you must select a few key strategies and implement like mad. Success is more about execution than anything else. Focus on the vital few instead of the trivial many. Energy focused on a few highly important goals is powerful.
This isn’t about setting goals to achieve incremental improvements in performance or processes. This is about big and bold goals ó goals on steroids. Be innovative and go for breakthroughs, not mere incremental gains. There are no rules or restrictions. As long as what you do is moral, legal and ethical, do not be shackled by company history or industry standards. Kill the “we have always done it this way” mentality.
Performance goals, at a minimum, should be set in the areas of leadership, business systemization, marketing, selling, operations (fulfillment), customer service and back-office operations. A yearly business plan could be nothing more than three to five monster-size goals in each one of these key areas. Once you have your yearly goals established, assign someone to champion each. Give each person the authority, time and tools to make things happen. On a 90-day cycle, hold each person accountable for progress on the goals.
The goals should be SMART:
Force your people to stretch. What gets measured gets done. What gets rewarded gets repeated. The leader of your team or business needs aggressive implementation, follow-up, follow-through and results.
In the real world of business, intentions and plans are mostly meaningless: implementation is where success is found, so keep it simple.
Contact Mark S. Dipple at m.dipple@thegrowthcoach. com.