Our experience over many years has shown that focussing on a relatively few but fundamental things that really matter and executing them well is often more productive than chasing the latest so-called ‘best practice’ or ‘management fad’. We have found the following to be critical factors in achieving business success:
1. Provide clear direction
Successful businesses have their attention clearly focussed on the needs of their customers and specific market opportunities. They care about how to do better than others at providing customers with what they want. They articulate clear strategies that can be readily understood when communicated to customers, employees and others. They know that details matter and pay close attention to them.
To achieve all this, they set and continuously refine standards for everything from their core products and services to their cultural norms. Regulatory, market and customer requirements are combined with needs of the business form an integrated business plan. A clear vision and strategy, which is shared by all employees, is a prerequisite to successful change.
2. Manage everything as a system
Having identified and clarified customer’s needs, successful businesses set up systems and build organisational capabilities to meet them. They simplify and standardise quickly, establishing, implementing and maintaining social, technical, delivery and managerial systems. Systems remove hassle and achieve desired results. Its like setting up a standing order, rather than having to remember when bills are to be paid & having to pay them manually each time.
The organisation should be viewed as a system which is constantly adapting to its external environment (e.g. markets, customer’s needs, regulations, etc.) and which is capable of delivering consistent value to its customers. The business delivers its defined value through its system of business processes.
3. Engage people
Successful businesses create environments that reduce complexity and do not overload employees. Their systems provide support and information for employees, empowering them to serve customers well and consistently. Their IT systems support the customer’s experience of the brand and do not act as ‘interference technology’ for users! Aligning personal and organisational objectives ensures that everyone is pulling in the same direction.
Change to the people-oriented systems (soft systems or social systems) must support changes to the infrastructure or hard systems.
4. Measure for Management and Improved Performance
Paying close and regular attention to how the business is performing, in terms of meeting customer needs, financially and against other key indicators ensures that the business stays on track. Deviation from clearly defined, customer-driven standards and processes is easily detected through a holistic performance management system.
Having a holistic measurement system in place allows you to understand what you are doing and what’s possible, actively manage business risk and opportunities and achieve desired behaviours throughout the business. Current knowledge about progress against plans and ongoing performance is essential to management coping with a changing external environment and seeking to improve performance.
5. Embrace the Future now
The market does not stand still, and neither can businesses. Continuous improvement and innovation must be built into the fabric of your organisation to ensure survival and future growth. Successful businesses assure their own futures by creating them themselves. They ensure that their businesses become more resilient and can continuously adapt and change.
In future articles we will go into more detail about the practical application of these principles. If you cannot wait, or need further information right away, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org