Just because your organization has been operating under the same processes for a long time does not mean it should continue to do so. In today’s episode, we discuss three aspects of what fear may look like in your organization’s (inefficient) processes:
- poor system integrations and a lack of communication;
- delays and obstacles
- reactive and poor decision-making
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1. Poor system integration and a lack of communication.
(fear of loss of control, failure, change)
When organizations do not coordinate and share information, they usually have several silos. These silos are not to be confused with individual responsibilities within an organization, but to be viewed as groups within an organization that are independently working on the same goals.
Imagine a shampoo CEO who tasked her organization with the goal of generating one-billion dollars in revenue. There were ten departments in the organization, and the CFO provided a $3M budget.
Instead of each department working together to ensure there was a cohesive strategy in place, they each did their own thing.
- the pet shampoo line spent their money on different systems and marketing than the childcare line
- the male shampoo line outsourced a significant portion of their operation and spent their budget on professional athlete endorsements
- the female shampoo line decided to market the brand as luxurious and they chose different systems to house their information as well.
I think you can start to see where some problems can occur.
In addition to the branding issues, if every department chooses a different system to house their information, their systems may not communicate with each other.
What over 80% of business leaders agree
According to an IDC survey, “over 80 percent of business leaders surveyed from sales, HR, procurement and other departments agreed that problems “arise because they have different internal systems/applications that don’t ‘talk’ to each other,” while 43 percent of workers surveyed said they often have to copy/paste or rekey in information”.
What this may look like in your organization is one employee will have to use three to five applications to resolve one service request. They will also be required to copy and paste information into multiple systems, depending on the department who services the request.
This can create confusion and redundancy in the process as different departments may have different naming conventions. This makes it difficult for the executive team to understand how the organization is doing. If six of your ten silos achieved their objective, that could mean you achieved your organization goal of one-billion dollars.
What if you discovered some of the branding of the silos that achieved their goal hindered some of the silos that did not?
Silos Within Facebook
Facebook acquired Instagram and they kept the founders of Instagram on-board. Within he past few months, the Instagram founders stepped down from their position within Facebook. Those close to the situation cited that the Instagram founders did not agree with the direction that Zuckerberg wanted to take the company.
Instagram saw itself independent from Facebook and believed they needed to maintain their culture and platform as originally designed. They felt their customers wanted a different experience than the direction Facebook wanted to take Instagram.
This brings the important question of why you are integrating to the forefront.
Are you looking for synergies between products or are you seeking to integrate solely for the purpose of doing things the way they have always been done?
Poor communication in the home
Poor communication is not only a situation you can find yourself encountering at work, it can also be in the home.
One person can be in charge of paying the bills, while the other person is in-charge of spending the money. Each log into the joint account and make decision based on the available balance.
Since there is no communication between the two, they can windup over drafting their account and dealing with a bunch of unnecessary fees.
The fears behind why people do not share information
They are worried about losing control. Where you have your culture, your people, and you do not want to have to worry about anyone else’s influence and problems.
You are dealing with a fear of change, and a fear of failure. Your comfort zone is with the people and processes you were trained on. Even though you do not like everything about the processes, you are more comfortable maintaining things the way they are.
No one wants to be the person who demands a change. The fear of our change making things worse is what keeps most of us from speaking up.
Ideally, you can invest in an integrated system across the organization. This will ensure everyone is looking at the same information and applying the same meaning. There are programs like Sales Force for your CRM, and SAAS or SQL for your accounting and finance.
When it comes to communication, ensure everyone is assigned a specific function within the same organizational goal. That way everyone understands they must work together to ensure the organization succeeds.
2. Delays and Obstacles
(fear of losing control, fear of missing out, fear of something bad happening)
Like the fear of losing control (FOLC) in the integrations and communication section, delays and obstacles will have the same motivation. In addition, you will find that delays and obstacles are also created from a fear of something bad happening (FOSBH) and the fear of missing out (FOMO).
Sometimes this is caused by a lack of communication and a resistance to change. Other times, you will find that an organization or home will overlook source of slowdowns because of a lack of visibility and the inability to understand the impact of an inefficient process.
This could look like a bunch of meetings, where a gatekeeper needs to know how the project is progressing on a regular basis. They literally do not want ANYTHING to happen without their sign off.
Because of these few people that need to be apprised of all developments, it is hard to get on their calendar to get the approval. You then find they are so busy with their own work, it is almost impossible to get on their calendar in a reasonable amount of time.
You will also find when you have a gatekeeper, people begin to tailor their recommendations to get the approval. This can stifle innovation because no one wants to take a risk by offering something that may be declined (especially after their work has been held up waiting for the meeting itself).
What would a 5% improvement look like in your organization?
When you couple the FOLC with the FOSBH, we are always focusing on the worst-case scenario. If we grow too fast, we may run out of resources. We could end up with a poor customer service rating because of the possibility of a backlog when we run out of inventory. We worry the dangers of hiring someone we do not have enough time to properly train.
I like to dream, so I often imagine, what if everything worked out exactly as I planned?
- What if this improvement increases your productivity by 5%, 10%, 15%, or even 20%. How does that impact your organization?
- What if you can find and train people and they are the perfect hire? What if you are able to keep up with demand?
We frequently slow things down to make sure something bad does not happen, but what if something amazing happened?
You will often find there are additional benefit to accomplishing your goal. For example, if you lose weight, your cholesterol and blood pressure will decrease, your joints will feel better, and you will have more energy. It is more than losing weight, it is about improving your health.
In your organization, improving your processes can have the same impact. You are not making something more efficient in your company, you are increasing revenue, outreach, sponsors, and support.
Dare to make a mistake
To increase the likelihood of something amazing occurring, listen to your people on the ground. The people who are in the process, experiencing the difficulties every day.
If they say, “this is the way the process says to do it, but I have implemented this workaround and it saves me 20 minutes”, change the process. You want to train and empower others to make decisions.
You should look into whether cutting back on the meetings makes sense. If your meetings are centered around keeping the gatekeeper up-to-date and seeking approval, you need share the responsibilities. You want to build the processes that will help you build comfort and allow more people to share in the responsibilities.
3. Sub-par decision-making
(fear of change, fear of something bad happening)
Make sure you are making decisions off of sound information. Once you know the information is sound, you want to get to the point that you are making real-time decisions off that sound information.
In most organizations, decisions are going to be made reactively. There is a fire-drill that arises and everyone diverts their energy to resolving the issue. The problem with fire-drills is diverting all your resources to resolving the issue of the day, all but insures there will be an issue tomorrow.
You never can properly work on the projects due next week, because you spend each day working on the issue of the day.
The pressure of operating a company in this manner can feel like someone having a sugar attack. You eat the sugar and your heart starts to beat rapidly. Then your body releases insulin to help bring everything back under control. However, the energy your body exerted to bring things back to normal has drained your resources. When you continue eating excess sugar, your body continues to break down until it stops producing insulin.
You cannot maintain your health, nor your organization’s health by constantly putting out fires. It is going to take a toll on you and your organization over time.
If you want to stop the cycle, you need to act at the trigger. Do not act once you have eaten the sugar, act when you are choosing what to eat.
Start implementing real-time decisions
The problem with reactive decision-making in your organization is the number of decisions you make every week, every day, and every hour. It becomes an exercise of helplessly stay afloat.
The transition to real-time decision-making can feel as uncomfortable as someone performing live in front of an audience. You feel like you are losing the safety net of retakes and edits.
That is why the fear of failure, the fear of losing control, and the fear of something bad happening is why most of us do not want to partake in making real-time decisions.
The power of real-time decisions
Real-time decisions are important because there is the possibility that any aspect of your company could change. You could lose your largest customer, you could add a $10M account, or an innovation could change the landscape of your industry.
If you are making real-time decisions, you will be able to capitalize or protect yourself from these changes. If not, you will be susceptible to anything the previous year(s) of information did not account for.
Even though organizations may place a higher value on responding quickly, what if you could respond accurately and quickly?
Think of a hospital and how they us real-time information by monitoring your vitals throughout you’re the day. Or when you go to UPS and they ask you to confirm the shipping information before you check out.
That is the value of real-time analytics.
To made your transition to real-time analytics as seamless as possible:
- Gather the results (Track your results in real-time).
- Whether you collect the information throughout the day or at the end of day.
- Put guard-rails in place to limit real-time mistakes
- Whether your program asks “if you are sure” on certain amounts (limiting fat fingers adding too many zeroes); require additional approvals after so many corrections, heart beat rises or drops below certain threshold triggers nurse visit, etc.
- You want to put the guard rails in a position where you have the ability to correct the issue before it is too late.
- Make sure everyone is looking at the same information, from the same source.
- Each department can have a personalized view, but they need to be viewing the information from the same place.