Years ago at a leaders’ workshop I met a friend from a different background, but a similar industry. Our specialties – Marketing for him and Operations in my case – apparently shared very similar challenges.
So, it seems, does everybody: that is, a rapidly-changing world in which systems become obsolete before we finish implementing them.
Well, that felt quite insightful at the time. Our initial instinct was to come into line with the people who want the freedom to just do everything their own way at all costs. We could sympathize – we were both known as somewhat rebellious men even within the somewhat rebellious companies we were contracted to.
However, we were both also committed to systems thinking and methodical improvement. We knew there was more to managing change than just eliminating procedures and letting things go.
In the end we realized that you have to get the high-level direction right first, build a process framework, and then focus on what each person owes the next link in the chain. This way growth and change can be managed deliberately, as the implications of change will be much easier to predict. Furthermore, Management is a deliberate science, not firefighting.
Getting all that straight allows you to start developing the real potential in your company: the people. I can generalize pretty safely here: the potential within your team is enormous; the biggest thing that holds it back is frustration; the biggest source of frustration is a lack of clarity about deliverables or inconsistent material to work with.
This is my work. In order for people to make the most of themselves, processes have to empower, not constrain. Sometimes that means articulating what is there already; more often changing it; and sometimes, building systems from the ground up.
Bring in an experienced leader, manager, coach and mentor. I will help start people growing… and then I’ll hand over the keys and get out of your way.