By Ben Fletcher, CEO and Founder of Velocity²
Having a structured plan that outlines how you operate your business is crucial and can be the difference between success and failure. There are numerous different operating methods out there, including the Entrepreneurial Operating System and OKRs, but ultimately it is important to choose or create one. Being structured and purposeful about your mindset when approaching how you operate your business is really valuable.
Clarity and Vision
A successful company is one that has a real focus and clarity on what is trying to be achieved – lacking this is not acceptable. You might have a clear purpose but if people aren’t aware of it, it isn’t going to be much good – ensure you have an efficient system in place for how you tell people.
There are various aspects that go into clarity, including vision – identifying what you are trying to solve. The majority are very familiar with the popular vision and mission concepts of a company. Defining these are intended to represent your company’s ethos and inspire you and your colleagues to align with them and provide a sense of purpose. The mission looks at the scale of the ambition you are trying to reach. Highlighting objectives that relate to these will put you on the right track to meet your goals. When it comes to your strategy, you need to be thinking about what differentiates you from others who are in a similar position to you.
Processes can be a really challenging aspect of operating a business, however, it is definitely something you need in place as a company grows. They are a great way of acknowledging what works and avoiding what doesn’t work, however, you need to be careful about how you set and change processes. If something isn’t working for you at the moment, it doesn’t mean it won’t work for you in the future. There should be a constant procedure of checking and evaluating processes to avoid getting set in the ways of how you do things. They are not about setting things in stone but maintaining flexibility and nimbleness. Processes are only your current best guess of the optimal way of doing things and are always up for question.
Transparency and Communication
Ensuring there is a focus on transparency and communication is also key – making sure there is a formal procedure to guarantee maximum efficiency. It is important to provide your team with the right information and data so they can make the right decisions and meet the business goals. There are a huge amount of companies out there that keep a lot of data close to their chest and do not share it around. This is something that should be considered and asked – how do you expect colleagues to make the right decisions if you are not providing them with the tools?
In terms of communication, again there should be a formal policy in place for this. This should be applied to everything, even how you onboard people and the set of information you give them. There are other structures in a company that can be used for communication, one might include manager meetings. Every one to one meeting should start with a current explanation of the vision and objectives and how what you are doing is helping you to achieve those objectives. By doing this, it is almost forcing yourself to be reminded of the end goal and the mission.
There are also bigger meetings with more than one individual. Again, each of these meetings should start with an explanation of why the meeting is important for achieving the objectives. Meetings should be taking place because you are needing to make a decision about something, if it is for anything else perhaps a written form of communication is more efficient. Research has highlighted that 67% of employees feel that they spend too much time in meetings, hindering them from being productive at work. Simply cut out wasteful meetings.
Responsibility and Accountability
Finally, you need to be looking at responsibility and accountability. Responsibility looks at who is responsible for doing a certain task and reaching the objective – this can include a group of people so it can be shared. Compared to accountability which is the ownership of the outcome and is generally one person. Having clarity on both of these is really important. If there is an objective and you do not know who is accountable for it, then how are you sure it is going to be hit?
Ultimately, ensuring you have clear processes in place and defining your business’s vision and mission is vital for maximum efficiency. Clarity, transparency, communication, responsibility and accountability are critical in a successful operating system and not acknowledging them is simply not an option. Think about what you want your colleagues to achieve and provide them with access to information that enables them to make better-informed decisions.