TOO many businesses are “failing for the wrong reasons”

In 2008 I founded the Business Coaching 2.0 Community on LinkedIn. (You can join here:  http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=1875493&trk=groups%2Fhome-h-share)

When I created the B2.0 group, I realized that many small businesses were in crisis. Too many were failing for the “wrong reasons”.  I felt that business coaches, accountants, marketing experts, and organizational development professionals could help.

As a CPA myself, I knew that we could help. We simply need more business support professionals to add new, and complementary process-related services.

The idea of businesses “failing for the wrong reasons” almost always sparks a conversation.

Yes, you can fail for the right reasons. For example, consider the startup that could not find its secret-sauce or a sudden, unpredictable change in regulations that upended a business.

Failing for the wrong reasons is different. These companies fail because they did not manage the variables within their control. These companies should have succeeded, if only…   If only they had documented the knowledge owned — or worse, hoarded —  by a key-employee who suddenly left.  If only they had a system to put out those nagging “fires” once and forever. If only they had managed their business with the slightest degree of sophistication and accountability.

How many businesses do you work with who are at risk? They are easy to spot. Their owners are stressed. They work 24/7/365. Their companies cannot deliver consistent, high-quality products and services to all of their customers. Their employees are overworked and disloyal. They experience a constant flow of customer complaints. They are disorganized. Their facilities are a little dirty. They never seem to have the time to focus on strategy. Everyone is pulling the business in a slightly different direction. They have communication issues. They have difficulty collaborating.

They could have been a GREAT company… if only!

Contrast this with a mature and excellent company. You know these too. They are focused, innovative, and growing. Their people are engaged, happy, and work together as a team. They are organized, calm, and clean. They exude confidence and professionalism.

What separates an excellent company from one that is at risk of failing for the wrong reasons?

Depending on your professional specialty, you might point to a lack of marketing, accounting, coaching, or technology. You would not be wrong, but you need to dig deeper to find the root cause. 

I believe the answer is that great companies have a management system. Weak companies, “wing-it”.

 

Why is having a Management System important?

Great companies treat management like any other critical operational process. It must be systematized, standardized, and continuously improved. Instead of multiple manager-ways, they have ONE company-way to share knowledge, manage strategies, report and resolve problems, and engage their people. This creates a valuable company-wide management language where everyone knows how to work together with confidence and esprit-d-corps.

How do you create a Management System?  You need a holistic approach that integrates eight essential elements:

-Leadership

-Strategy

-Customer focus

-Employee engagement

-Knowledge management

-Process Management

-Measurable Results

-Culture

Do you recognize the above elements? They are based on the U.S. Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. Baldrige is the U.S. standard of management excellence. It is used by organization’s worldwide to become GREAT. It suggests an organizations clearest path to sustainable and scalable growth is the integration of the above elements.

The operative word is “integration.”  To work properly the above elements must work together like a finely tuned machine — a management machine.

I know what you are thinking… You are concerned that building the management system will be difficult?   And, it is!  However, don’t worry. We have a brilliantly simple solution that even the smallest businesses can use. It is also a valuable service that any business professional can offer their clients that enhances and complements the work that they perform. More about that later.  First, let’s talk about how you build a management machine. 

 

Focus on PROCESSES First!

The first key to building a company’s management machine is choosing a point-of-view. This is very important because the required management elements listed above (Leadership, Strategy, Customer, Employees, etc.)  are incredibly interconnected and codependent. If you do not choose a point-of-view, your deployment will become confusing. It is hard to think in 3-D for extended periods of time.

I found that focusing on the processes first is a fast-track to achieving results. The reason is that processes are the basic building blocks of every organization. They are like the company’s DNA. The healthier you make each process, the healthier the company becomes. 

Another reason to choose processes as your starting point is that each one is like a tiny microcosm where all the elements (Leadership, Strategy, Customer, Employees, etc), work together, but on a bite-sized and very manageable level. You have fewer people, issues, ideas, and less knowledge to manage. Working at the process level allows you to focus your attention, build momentum, and win internal champions.

As your deployment progresses, and more and more of the company’s processes are documented and improved, it will be quite easy to switch perspectives and view the “machine” from the POV of one of the other elements, like Leadership, Strategy, or Employee-Engagement.

As the company’s management machine gains traction you begin to notice an amazing transformation. The business owner’s stress starts to melt away. They breathe a sigh of relief as the organization becomes more and more sustainable and scalable. You see their delight as problems, waste, and customer complaints are systematically reported and resolved by related process teams. The best is when their people’s creativity results in new products, services, opportunities, and innovation.

As a business professional, you will wonder why you didn’t focus on business processes earlier.

 

ManageHub is a Ready-to-Use Management Machine

This next point is very important to keep in mind… 

Every successful, and long-lived company — even the small ones, who are highly organized, innovative, productive, and profitable — manage the elements, (Leadership, Strategy, Customer, Employees, etc.), discussed above. The better they are at integrating the elements, the more in control, the less stressed, the more innovative, and the more prepared they are to grow. 

The problem is that it can be very challenging to build a highly functioning yet simple to use “management machine”.  It is not the number of elements that makes it frustrating.  It is making the elements work together that is hard to do. It takes a lot of trial-and-error. It is very time-consuming, distracting, and expensive. Many businesses never quite figure it out in time to avoid failing for the wrong reasons.

Years ago we wondered why there wasn’t a turnkey software solution that creates a company’s ready-to-use management machine. We imagined having software that would automate a company’s management processes the same way accounting software automates their accounting processes. Why make everyone recreate the wheel?  So, we built ManageHub.com.  It is cloud-based software that integrates people, process, strategies, knowledge, communication, and collaboration into one finely-tuned machine: A management machine.

As we built ManageHub our mission was to incorporate the essential elements of time-tested management methods like Baldrige, ISO, Six Sigma, TQM, Kaizen, and Quality Circles. These are the same practices used by the largest and most successful companies. Our thinking was, “If they work for the largest companies; they will work for a smaller business too.”  We also focused on making ManageHub non-technical, non-theoretical, and non-threatening. It is hands-on and practical. Most users will not even realize they are implementing “best management practices.”  They are just doing more of the right things, and, enjoying the benefits too!

To help organizations get started we created the ManageHub Business Accelerator, www.ManageHubAccelerator.com. To date, over 350 companies have participated. Now we are creating a network of business coaches who can provide coaching, guidance, and support. We are also proud to be partnering with the Alliance for Performance Excellence, the outreach arm of the Baldrige Enterprise, to help organizations adopt Baldrige-based excellence.

 

How does it work?

ManageHub works by organizing people into self-managed process-team. Each team becomes responsible for managing their own work within a framework of accountability and transparency.  The team is responsible for:

-Writing step-by-step operating procedures.

-Reporting and resolving related issues, customer complaints, and ideas for improvement.

-Managing related strategic improvement initiatives.

-Reporting their progress.

Engaging people in process-teams has many benefits. It teaches employees how to be self-managed, and self-motivated leaders. It empowers people with responsibility. It organizes and updates critical organizational knowledge in the place that it is used. It gives everyone an equal voice and an equal opportunity to make a difference. It distributes work logically and evenly, so more fires are put out, more issues and ideas are acted upon, and more strategies are implemented.

Deployment is supported through a simple plan of employee coaching, and very short and highly-structured accountability meetings.

If you are a manager or leader interested in learning how you can use the ManageHub method to optimize your department or company, please visit www.ManageHubAccelerator.com for classes and support. The Accelerator consists of four 90 minute on-demand video seminars. Each class focuses on building a company’s “management machine”.

If you are a business coach or professional who wants to learn how to become a ManageHub Process Coach please visit: https://managehubaccelerator.com/become-a-managehub-coach  You will receive everything you need to get started. ManageHub is a simple, practical, turnkey solution that focuses on achieving results.

If you have any questions, please contact me directly.

Mike Kramer, CPA
www.ManageHub.com
www.ManageHubAccelerator.com
Office: 847-675-8211
skype = onthesystem
www.linkedin.com/in/michaelkramer