As a leader of an organization, there can be nothing more freeing than having a plan … a plan that lays out and clearly defines the path and future of the organization.
Understanding what defines us and motivates us as leaders and as an organization can be tremendously encouraging and give us inspiration. Seeing a clearly defined organizational chart where people that work for us are in the right spots can give us hope that they too will find the same motivation and inspiration to achieve common goals.
But then we might find ourselves asking the question “what next?” or “how, as an organization, do we begin to work systematically to accomplish our plan?” The answer is, on one hand, simple, yet, on the other hand, complex. We must begin to focus on the processes necessary within our organization.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PROCESS
One of the many blessings, although some may say it’s a curse, of what I do is travel to different parts of the country. I get to work with a variety of great companies, leaders, and salespeople. In order to do so, I spend quite a bit of time on airplanes. I’ve always been mesmerized by airplanes. Every time I step onto a plane, I find myself sitting as close to the front as I can so I can watch the pilots and the flight deck as long as I can before they close the door. When you first look into the flight deck and see all of the buttons, instruments, controls, and gadgets, it seems overwhelming that anyone could learn to fly a plane. Especially something as large as a commercial jet. But as you sit on enough flights and observe, you realize through the complexity of it all, the pattern itself is quite routine and very repeatable. The flight decks of the smallest planes to the largest jets simply revolve around process.
A process is defined as a series of actions taken to achieve a desired outcome. If we go back to the plane analogy, the desired outcome is to safely move the plane via the air from location A to location B, whatever or wherever that may be. “Safely” obviously being the key word there. In order for that desired outcome to happen, everything that a pilot or pilots do from the time they step into the plane is a series of actions that lead to the outcome. Those actions are clearly defined and documented, they are easy to follow, and have the ability to be measured to insure we are on track to our intended outcome.
Having clearly defined processes in all facets of our business should, in fact, be no different. As we said above, through planning, we now have a clearly defined outcome, so now we must define the consistent actions to achieve the outcomes. In some cases, we will have processes that already exist. In this case, we should go through some evaluation to be sure they are effective.
CREATING EFFECTIVE PROCESSES
Where we have gaps, it is our responsibility as leaders to see that processes are created. I think one of the biggest mistakes that we make is to go at this alone. If we need to create processes, we should utilize some of the very same positions and people we outlined previously. What better way could we create effective processes than to utilize the expertise within the varying departments of our organization?
As we create the processes, we must be sure they meet the same criteria:
- Are they clearly defined?
- Can we document them?
- Are they simple to follow?
- Can we put metrics around them to measure effectiveness?
When I teach goal setting, I tell people not to get discouraged. Goal setting is not a two-hour event. It takes time, you step away from it, and sometimes come back to it with a completely different perspective. Creating and evaluating processes within your organization is no different. It is not a one-time event. The way you and your team see it or think of it in a first meeting may not be close to the way you see it in a second meeting or even what you end up with. What is important is that you stay with it and make sure processes are created.
I’m guessing most of us wouldn’t fly on an airplane if we knew the pilots were winging it. Let’s give our business the best chance of “safely” arriving at our destination. Want to learn how? Connect with a Lushin consultant today.