In my last blog post, “Seven Signs You Need A Business Operating System”, I called out the seven signs or problems that indicate you need a business operating system.
Those seven signs were:
- The business feels chaotic and out of control
- Increased sales is not resulting in increased profit, only more chaos
- There is a high rate of employee churn. As soon as you hire someone, another person leaves. Employee retention and hiring is a problem.
- There is poor accountability. Employees are not 100% clear on their key responsibilities. This results in dropped balls, frustrated customers and stressed out employees.
- Meetings feel like a waste of time and ineffective or seen as complaint sessions where nothing ever really gets accomplished or solved
- The business is in constant fire-fighting mode, moving from one fire to the next.
- There is no budget which is used to plan spending. You do not have the information to make decisions. Cash flow is a problem.
In the next several blog posts, I want to go through each one of these signs and point to how, specifically, the Envisionable business operating system, EBOS helps to solve these problems.
So, let’s take the first one, “The business feels chaotic and out of control”.
According to an HBR article on managing workplace stress - “work is getting more demanding and complex, anxiety and burnout are not uncommon. In our high-pressure workplaces, staying productive and engaged can be challenging.”
When a business owner has expressed to me that their business feels chaotic and out of control, my first step is to dig a bit deeper to determine what is really going on and determine the root causes of the chaos.
As I dig a bit deeper, I often find that the chaos is caused by a lack of clarity about the priorities of the business.
When there is a lack of clarity about priorities, every new pressing issue or fire becomes the most important. This issue is added to an employee’s task list which causes them to begin to feel burned out. Balls get dropped. This often drives higher employee churn, which only makes things worse.
Chaos Causes Us To Move To Our Comfort Zones
Chaos, by definition is a LACK of or order. When there is a LACK of order, confusion rules the day.
In chaotic environments where priorities are not clear, employees naturally navigate to the tasks and activities the they feel most comfortable doing (even if those things don’t add value OR directly contradict the true priorities of the business).
In the same way, in times of chaos, as the owner / leader of the business, you will naturally migrate to what you are most comfortable doing. For some owners it is to focus on sales. This is a focus that just puts more pressure on the business to deliver.
For others owners, they focus on getting “real work” done. This especially true if you are the one who is responsible to deliver the product and service. Being “strategic” and applying the discipline of a business operation system in not considered “Real work”. As a result, those around you are not developed and the capacity of the business is choked.
All this means that you are not doing the things that you must do to truly deal with the chaos.
You Must Drive Out The Chaos
Chaos is the natural course of things.
Business doesn’t naturally become ordered. Everything naturally tends to disorder. Therefore, you must put energy into a system (your business) to make it more ordered. Even the best run businesses must fight against the tendency they have to become chaotic.
So, as a business owner, you must tell yourself that this is just what happens. Your business will naturally, overtime, become more and more chaotic and disordered, unless you put energy in to fight the chaos and disorder.
Just like when you clean your house or straighten up your desk, you don’t expect it to stay that way, you can’t expect your business to stay “ordered”.
Don’t be surprised when it happens. Be proactive and use an operating system to drive out the chaos.
You Need To Drive Out The Chaos By Defining The Goals Of The Business
So what is the solution? How do you move from chaos to order? How do you drive out the chaos.
Answer: Be as clear as possible about the priorities of the business.
Consider one of the most chaotic environments you can think of. What comes to mind for me is an emergency room. People constantly filtering in and out. Some patients are really sick and need help right away. Some people just have a bad cold. How do doctors and nurses operate in such and environment without a significant loss of life? Everyone understands the priorities. Which allows the team to manage the chaos. They work as a team. Everyone knows their role and what they must do to accomplish the goal of treating each patient. The ER has an operating system.
Each team member understands the priorities (read goals).
Ask yourself if everyone in your organization is 100% clear about the goals of the business. Even if you answer “yes” I would test that assumption by asking each member of your leadership team to tell you what the top 3-5 goals.
If you find your team gives different answers, it time to drive clarity. Managing chaos is all about making sure your team knows what is most import.
Envisionable can bring your through our goal defining process which will give you a ton of clarity on the other side.