FTI – failure to implement – is one of the biggest inhibitors of growth, both personally & professionally. Practice JDI – just do it – instead.
The FTI malady is very much alive. An idea or an innovation is worthless if it never sees the light of day. The value is in the application. The longer the time lapse between the idea and implementation, the lower the enthusiasm and the larger the opportunity cost to the business.
How Accountability Practices can help you to JDI
Decisions alone don’t bring results – there must be follow-through, action and accountability.
When making decisions, it’s important to remember that deciding is only half the battle. Too often, people decide to take on a task or project and never follow through with the necessary action steps. This lack of action or follow-through leads to missed opportunities and potential pitfalls that could have been avoided if the necessary actions had been taken in a timely fashion. There is a real cost.
Accountability can help ensure that a decision is followed through once it is made. One way to do this is to engage an accountability partner who will check in and ensure tasks are completed, and objectives are achieved. This helps ensure consistency in action-taking and creates a system of checks and balances that keeps everyone honest about their responsibilities and commitments. You give this person permission to call you out if you are not doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it.
Additionally, having an accountability partner can also be a sounding board, allowing for open dialogue about any issues or questions that may arise while completing any given task. By having a second set of eyes looking over your progress, you can be more confident in the decisions you make daily and have peace of mind knowing that any mistakes or any deadlines looming or missed are noticed sooner rather than later.
Why FTI can Negatively Impact your Team
A culture of open communication, transparency, responsibility, and support is key to ensuring that the desired outcomes of our decisions turn up on time.
Nothing is more confusing and demotivating to your team than hearing the talk and not seeing the walk. This is very obvious where businesses who profess to encourage the teams’ contribution to continual improvement programs, for example, fail to act on the input and very quickly stifle the flow of ideas.
Once diagnosed, the FTI malady must be treated with vigour and without delay because the associated lack of urgency is very contagious and invasive. It will make its way through the entire team and into every corner of the business.
FTI is best dealt with at a cultural level. Culture promotes behaviours that will progress your business and align with your core values. Being accountable for implementation and follow-through is an integral part of a healthy, vibrant culture.
A value statement like – “We do business and life with a sense of urgency and a strong desire to implement”, – when backed up with examples of how this might play out in the workplace, will encourage more desirable behaviours.
It’s Time to Stop Making Excuses
There are many reasons or excuses given as to why actions don’t get done –
1. No one has ownership of the action
2. There was no due date
3. Unexpected blocks turned up
4. Other actions took priority
We’ve all been there – a task is assigned without any clear direction or timeline and eventually gets lost amid other priorities. Reasons for such inaction include a lack of accountability, no due date, unforeseen blocks, or even an overload of other tasks. No matter the reason, these types of situations can be easily avoided with some simple steps.
When assigning a new task or project, it’s essential to clearly communicate expectations and deadlines so everyone involved knows exactly what they are responsible for and when those tasks should be completed. This helps ensure that the task is given priority and will move along the development process quickly. It also ensures projects stay on schedule and don’t fall to the wayside due to a lack of focus or follow-through.
It’s also vital to consider unexpected block that may arise during development. Unexpected delays due to technical issues, cost overruns, vendor delays, and so on, can all contribute to an action not being completed on time. In this situation, planning ahead is essential by considering possible obstacles and addressing them before they become an issue. This could mean having a contingency plan in place, so you’re prepared if something does come up or taking steps during development to mitigate any potential risks associated with the project.
Finally, it’s important to recognise when tasks are taking too long or have become a too low priority due to other activities taking precedence over them. If this happens, it’s best practice to either reassess and adjust the scope of work or delete it altogether if it’s deemed not worth doing. Although this might seem like a daunting task initially, keeping track of your commitments is essential for staying on top of your workload and ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks.
These reasons must be addressed when the action is entered in the action sheet, and when a decision is made. The action sheet should include the person responsible for getting it done, a due date, potential blocks and how they will be addressed, and the value the action will add to the organisation.
How to Take Action and JDI
You have access to a comprehensive action sheet designed to eliminate FTI here.
Every action has a consequence, as does every action not taken. If an action is deemed not worth doing, neither urgent nor important – if the due date is extended week after week – then delete it!
Who holds you to account to make sure that you implement with urgency?
Is there an example of the FTI malady playing out in your personal life? In your business? Why the lack of urgency?
A Win-Win Environment
INNOVATE OR BE DISRUPTED
Innovation is not just about product and process – it is also about attracting and retaining the best people – and flexibility and virtual offices are just part of the story. The Chief Innovation Officer’s charter is to thread innovative process through the entire company – to challenge each division to step into the future and to pre-empt change, rather than wait to be disrupted. Disruption in the HR space can be very costly.
There is a groundswell of discontent among employees with the level of inflexibility in the workplace. What we mean by flexibility is enabling people to work non-scheduled hours from remote locations including home and cafes with varying levels of supervision.
A recent study from Ernest and Young* reveals that women working part-time are the most productive employees in the workplace, highlighting the growing need for Australian businesses to adopt a flexible workplace policy.
The desire to integrate life and business in less traditional ways is neither gender nor generational specific. It is very much a whole of workforce issue.
The concept of a flexible workplace is no longer a soft touch approach, but a serious and compelling strategy for business leaders to attract the best candidates who will achieve optimum productivity.
More and more companies have recognised the benefits of being innovative in this space and others are still watching this space.
“In Sweden, workers are being treated to a condensed six-hour work day. Businesses implementing this change hope that by giving their employees more time to spend with their families, they’ll be more productive when they’re at work”.**
Research suggests that flexibility in the workplace brings these positive outcomes:
- Increased productivity;
- Lower stress;
- Boost morale & motivation;
- A sense of being trusted to do the right thing;
- More/better sleep;
- Reduced commuting time;
- Able to attend key family events (including doctor & school visits);
- Attract better employees;
- Increase employee retention;
- Less absenteeism;
- No office related interruptions (up to 3hrs per day!); and
- Happier – more creative, better ideation, improved problem solving.
If these outcomes are related to being flexible, then, would an inflexible workplace have the opposite impact? Not a good look!
THE IMPLEMENTATION PLAN
There will be some businesses, divisions, jobs and people which may not be candidates for a flexible workplace. Each instance must be carefully considered. The extent of flexibility implemented must be customised – one size cannot suit all.
Start with being clear on what your working environment will need to look like in the future – say 3, 6, 9 years out – so that you attract and retain high performing, high value people – to be the employer of choice for those you need.
Once you have clarity around what the future workplace will look like, reverse engineer back – how do you bridge the gap between where you are now and where you need to be. How will you stage the introduction of flexibility and its constant companion, technology?
There are critical issues that must be considered when introducing flexibility, two of which include
- Don’t go in half done – know why you are taking this road, have an implementation plan, nominate a champion, and engage the team; and
- Beware the out of sight out of mind dilemma. Be very clear what you must do so as not to slip into this mindset. Rigorous 2-way communication is critical for engagement.
MANAGEMENT STYLE MATTERS
How a flexible workplace plays out often depends on the current management style. Inherent in the flexible model is an underlying trust that each person is capable of working without close supervision, managing their time, making decisions and doing the right thing (to varying degrees of course). If the current leadership tends to micromanage then there will need to be an adjustment – a loosening of the reigns. This must be dealt with upfront.
There are as many processes as there are businesses – from inflexible flexibility to a total lack of supervision or interaction. Larry Dobrow tells of one entrepreneur who keeps a watchful eye on his three virtual assistants throughout the day by monitoring their activity via Time Doctors screen monitoring software. Every 15 minutes the software takes a screen shot which reveals what employees are focused on! That is one end of the spectrum! Let’s hope the employees know that their screens are being monitored!
A CHECKLIST TOOL
We have developed a checklist or self-assessment for organisations considering introducing more flexibility or who have already stepped into that space with varying degrees of success.
This checklist highlights gaps in the planning and implementation processes – it is by no means all-inclusive – more considerations and insights will come to light as more businesses take up the challenge.
Try it now – it’s Free.
* Global Generations – A global study on work-life challenges across generations, Ernst & Young, 2015, available online here.
** Why flexible working will make you happier and healthier, Sabrina-Rogers Anderson, 2015, available online here.
You can’t change the past but you can look back with the intention of leveraging off the learnings, identifying the gaps and seeing the opportunities for improvement. These 10 questions will enable you to do just that, to strive for business success.
Turn your sensivity metre down and answer these questions truthfuly and without judgement, blame or excuse – just call it as you see it – tell it as it is.
- Did you do what you said you were going to do when you said you would do it in 2014?
- Are there actions on your action sheet that are long overdue?
- How did your business perform compared to your plan? Is it worth more after 12 months of trading?
- Did you accumulate the wealth you had planned to?
- And your team, how did they perform – are they growing and developing?
- What about your time – did you spend 80% of your time doing what you do best?
- How much time did you have off from your business? Did you take your 4 weeks annual leave?
- If I came into your business would I identify you as the leader?
- What new innovations did you introduce in 2014 and what value did they add?
- Do you remember why you do what you do?
How did you go?
Now select a team member and ask them to answer these questions and share their answers with you – again listen without judgement – don’t take it personally. The moment you question the validity of feedback you run the risk of hearing what the team member thinks you want to hear and the exercise becomes worthless.
These 10 questions represent and identify the most common gaps or opportunities for improvement that we have witnessed as we work with business owners and leaders on a daily basis. The underlying business practices that impact the answers and outcomes are critical to maximising profitability in a sustainable way – from both a financial and an emotional point of view.
These are the questions we ask to enable our clients to evaluate their past performance and to establish a bench mark from which to reset their intentions for the coming year, quarter and month. It is all about knowing where you are today, where you would like to be and how to bridge that gap.
Our BUSINESS by DESIGN workshops and products are designed to address these key business foundations and provide tools and insights that will enable serious improvement. We have the formulae to business success.
Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change!
Often business strategy sessions are focused on doing more with more – more people, more customers, more products, more systems, more equipment… and it goes on.
We challenge our clients to think, firstly, about how they might do more with less – less people (hours), less customers, less products, less systems, less equipment.
So let’s think about this…
1. Less People
Our challenge is to identify one full time equivalent (FTE) person(s) who you could do without, and do so in a way that 100% of their salary and on-costs will fall directly to the bottom line.
If you have less than 5 in your team – your challenge will be to reduce the hours overall by 5 hours per week per person.
We know that this may not seem possible, but if it was possible how would it look? Who could you let go or whose hours could be reduced? Let’s just go with this… it may not be one person, it might be a combination of “parts” of people. You might have a number of people going from full-time to part-time for example. Who has the capacity to take over those activities that this FTE person did, are these activities still necessary, can these activities be done more effectively so that they take less time? Keep innovating until you have identified one FTE person worth of time and money. You are not compromising service and value.
So now, you have an excess of one FTE person – you can choose to:
- reduce hours or people… OR
- do even more, now that you have created capacity in your team.
2. Less Customers
More often than not there is a focus on attracting more customers and that may be valid. Again, our challenge is to identify customers who are not profitable – in whom you are investing more than your return. Remember to take into account life time value. It may be a customer(s) who is using a product that is no longer your core range, or is out dated. It is likely that this customer does not meet your ideal customer criteria!
Again, you have identified customers who you could let go and as a consequence see an increase in profitability.
Now you have a choice:
- to let them go and replace them with more profitable customers… OR
- to change the way you do business with them so that the relationship generates a positive return. You may change what you sell to them, how you sell to them or a price adjustment may be in order.
3. Less Products
The challenge is to identify those products or services that are no longer profitable at the current price point and with the current sales process in place. Sometimes this is a historic development – something that has flown under the radar while the focus has been on introducing new products and services.
Again you have a choice:
- to drop the product or service from your offering… OR
- change the price point, the “seniority” of the person involved in the sale, and/or the sale process for example.
Go through the same process with systems and equipment.
Your challenge is to identify those people or hours, products, customers, systems and equipment which are not, when taken in isolation, generating a positive return. In fact, when taken out of the business, net profit actually increases.
Then you have a choice – you can choose to:
- let “it” go and direct your focus towards more profitable pursuits… OR
- make innovative changes which will return “it” to profitability.
Take up the challenge to change the way you look at your business. Look for opportunities to do more with less and then you will find you have more options… It is a different focus and a very effective strategy!
At Opening Gates we see INNOVATION as one of the critical business foundations – and this process is one way of encouraging the innovative process. Innovation is just one of the concepts we cover in our BUSINESS by DESIGN workshops.
We know that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!
Effective recruitment is one of the biggest challenges business owners say they face – they tell me it is impossible to get the right people. And as a consequence they, themselves, must work harder and longer hours. And business growth is stymied as a result.
Some tell me that all the kids of today (their potential employees) are in such a hurry, they want everything now, and with the least amount of effort. They are not interested in working hard or putting in the hours and are so idealistic.
Firstly, let me say that there are 2 really big global statements or beliefs here –
1. “It is impossible to get the right people”; and
2. These descriptions of the attitudes of young people.
I believe that this people challenge is actually a mindset challenge… nothing more, nothing less.
With limiting global beliefs like this in tow, we will not take an expansive or creative mindset into the recruitment process.
If we go to the market thinking that we won’t find the right person – then we most probably won’t!
If we are thinking it is all a waste of time, our commitment to the process will be weak. We will most likely revert to doing what we have always done (and we will get what we have always got – the “wrong” people). Given that we expect recruitment will not be successful, we are disinclined to be innovative, think outside the square or to invest extra energy, funds, or time in the process.
But what if you took the attitude that the right people are out there… they are just not working for you… yet. And who are these kids who have a sense of urgency, who are ambitious, confident, who have interests other than work and envision a better way of being?
How would your mindset change?
If you are not attracting the people you need, then why not? Maybe it isn’t that the people aren’t out there, but rather that they are not attracted to what they perceive you have to offer. Would you examine what you did last time and consider how it could be improved to be more relevant to the current labour market? Would you spend more time becoming clear on exactly who this person might be, what skill set they might have, and what they might be doing now, where they could be working and what environment they are currently excelling in.
Given that you now believe the right people are out there, then:
- advertise more strategically;
- work at attracting this talent – become a talent magnet; and
Find out the answers to these questions:
- what are their hobbies and their interests?;
- where are they are studying and how they are spending their spare time?;
- how can you add value to them before they even know they will be working for you?;
- who do you know who could help you to find these stars?;
- are you fishing where the fish are?;
- how are you promoting your value in places they are shopping or browsing?; and
- what would a fast paced, value adding, exciting, balanced work place look like (and isn’t that where you would like to work anyway… and the energy of a place like that… how would that feel)?
When you change your language and recognise the limiting effect of this type of global generalised belief, then you begin to see the challenge with a new sense of possibility.
Consider the attributes of our amazing younger generation – think about how their beliefs and attitudes can be leveraged and harnessed in your business environment. It’s interesting that when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. Yes, it is all about mindset and the willingness to challenge old beliefs. This is why a business will never outperform its owners and leaders – and this is why business owners, if they give themselves permission, will enjoy incredible personal growth as a pre-requisite for leading a vibrant, relevant business that attracts great people.
So with your new empowering beliefs in place… take another look at your people challenge – you will be pleasantly surprised at the new opportunities that come with an expanded mindset.
This way of thinking is integral to becoming an even better leader in business and in life.
We build on these concepts and expand the opportunities for you and your business in our BUSINESS by DESIGN and LEADERSHIP by DESIGN workshops.
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A 24 hour business cannot mean a 24 hour commitment from the owner, can it?
Being accessible to your customers 24/7 may be the new reality of business with on-line shopping, extended opening hours and e-commerce… but what does it mean to the small business owner? How on earth can a business owner be expected to be “on call” 365 days a year, 24 hours a day – that is not humanly possible and it certainly isn’t sustainable.
What I have found is that when business owners go on holidays or when their team is working on weekends, they may have left the building but their minds are still firmly entrenched in the business sandpit. When the business is operating, these owners are still mentally at work – “on call” just in case something unusual happens – something the team wouldn’t be able to handle.
The only time owners sever this mental attachment is when the business is closed (or at least for some part of that time).
I have already seen the fall-out of this 24/7 story. Owners who have not considered or planned for the impact of being mentally and emotionally “on call” without reprieve are fast losing their passion for their business – they blame the business, the team, the customers, the industry and the increasing demands around accessibility, for their state of mind. They see no escape, no alternative and it becomes all pervasive, impacting on family, friends, community, health – they are at a loss and feel like they are failing at the one thing they did well and which in effect, defined them.
Business owners believe that they must move with the times (and rightly so) and embrace the concept of e-commerce, social media and longer opening hours and they begin the implementation process without due consideration to how this will work from a global perspective. There are so many questions which must be asked before the process begins.
- What does being open for business 24/7 mean? Is it every day? All day?
- What new KPI’s will need to be set? – What is the break-even point – the point when do you decide to be “closed”? Sales per hour, enquiries per hour, conversions per hour – and during which hours – will help you to decide when your customers are actually doing business with you.
- And what commitments are being made around service outside of “normal” business hours? Will all products and services be offered? What expertise will be required and offered, and when?
- What do your team think? And how will you engage them in the process?
- What do your team need to know? What training is required?
- Do you need to employ new skill sets? Can you contract in the skills in a more cost effective way?
- What new systems need to be documented?
- And how will customers be interacted with – and who will take on that role?
- What will the customer or user experience look and feel like? How will you stay on brand?
- And will your suppliers be available to assist during these additional hours? If not, how will that play out?
- And this may be the most important question of all – how will it impact you, the owner? What do you need to have in place to enable you to “turn off”?
These few questions just touch the surface – invest the time in this pre-implementation process – research what others are doing in your industry, ask your team for input, attend information sessions, and survey your customers and your market (which may expand). And then continually review, measure, and reset and engage with those who are doing business with you.
Don’t enter this brave new world without doing your homework. And be warned… too often business owners are on this journey, well entrenched in the new business model before they know it – almost by stealth, little by little, hour by hour, longer opening hours have become the norm. And owners wonder why they feel so totally overwhelmed.
Let me go back to the last question…
- And this may be the most important question of all – how will it impact you, the owner? What do you need to have in place to enable you to “turn off”?
If this question isn’t addressed the likely outcome is not pretty… owners lose the fire in their belly, energy levels fall and the business begins to suffer along with the health and well-being of the owner and all those who he or she connects with.
The business must be designed to be fit for the purpose of a 24/7 operation which at the same time enables the owners to live a rich and fulfilling life. There may need to be a reset around the owner’s beliefs concerning the role a business should or should not play in their lives. Often the owner has a misconception (often unknowingly) that the business and their role in it defines them… they are the business and the success of the business is the only measure of success for themselves personally. There is no separation.
In these circumstances, as the business trades for longer hours, the business owner has the “opportunity” to become even more connected and reliant on the business – it becomes even more all-consuming.
The “rules” of a business must be biased towards the owner’s life plan – too often, the “rules” of life are biased towards ensuring the business plan works.
There is another way, a better way. It is never too late to take back control. Find out how at our BUSINESS by DESIGN Workshops.
Time? Commission? Schedule of Costs? Or Value Pricing?
Which one? Professional service businesses who have embraced value pricing have seen impressive increases in productivity and profit. So why is the take up so slow?
Here is some food for thought…
For those who have invested many years perfecting their craft and invested significantly in improving efficiency, in people, IT, systems and learning… time based billing does not always reflect the real value transferred.
One day a woman spotted Pablo Picasso in the market and pulled out a piece of paper. “Mr Picasso”, she said excitedly, “I’m a big fan. Please could you do a little drawing for me?” Picasso happily complied and quickly etched out a piece of art for her on the paper provided. He smiled as he handed it back to her and said, “That will be one million dollars.” “But Mr Picasso”, the flustered woman replied, “It only took you 30 seconds to do this little masterpiece.” “My good woman,” Mr Picasso laughed, “It took me 30 years to do that masterpiece in 30 seconds”.
Read this daily!
Remember the first sale is to YOURSELF – YOU must firstly believe that the value transfer is fair and balanced – that price = value.
A significant shift in thinking is required to accommodate the value pricing model, when historically you have billed based on the time taken to do the job, a schedule of costs, or on a commissioned based calculation.
Only then will you be able to confidentially articulate the value to your clients.
The point of reference is no longer the input based pricing but the clients’ outcome based value. Price is justified by the value added to the client NOT the number of hours it takes to do the job.
Value pricing is all about:
- You valuing you and the intellectual capabilities of your business;
- Realising that you do not sell time – you sell knowledge;
- Making the invisible, visible – tell your clients what you will do, and what value you will add and tell them again;
- Finding the value in everything you do from your clients’ perspective – it is there it just needs to be unbundled;
- Articulating the value to your clients – they won’t understand if you don’t explain it; and
- Being confident and believing in yourself.
Consider this:– it is not up to you to set the price – it is up to your market. If there are no objections – your price is too low – continually test the market until you establish the real value.
Share these concepts with your team – they must be on the same value-pricing page as you are. What I have found is, it is the team who more readily embrace value pricing and they will keep you accountable!
It is not rocket science. It makes financial sense both to the client and the business. And as part of the process of pricing up front, value pricing reduces WIP and Debtor days, delivers a more stream lined billing process and so much more.
At Opening Gates we examine the benefits, myths and challenges of value pricing with business owners and their team, and kick start the implementation process in our BUSINESS by DESIGN Program. How successfully do you and your team implement value pricing?