Business is competition, and like any form of competition, it’s hard not to look at the scoreboard. However, winning teams don’t simply show up on the field, cobble together a strategy, and win. They spend, days, months, and years working on their craft. They have clearly defined strategies and ensure that they have processes in place to ensure consistent results.
Start-ups can afford to focus more on results than processes, because management has a large span of control and can intervene directly when they see activities that don’t produce the desired outcome. However, as companies grow, visibility shrinks, resulting in unidentified performance variations. Over time, those variations become the culture, making it that much harder to fix. If you’ve ever watched team sports, you know what that looks like—a team that’s ill-prepared to take the field. Sometimes they have the best players in the game, but they still don’t win.
If you’re looking at the scoreboard and you don’t like what you see, it may be time to take a fresh look at your underlying processes to try to identify the performance variations that might be contributing to poor results. Once you’ve identified those variations, try to resist the urge to simply discipline the person responsible for the variation. Instead, take a look at your training programs and early warning systems. Making sure that employees are well-trained in the most critical activities will help establish a firm foundation. But people sometimes forget or make errors, so it’s just as important to identify real-time or near-real-time metrics that may indicate a problem is on the horizon, and to make sure that someone routinely monitors those metrics and intervenes in a timely manner when performance variations occur.
Taking these steps will reinforce the importance of the activities most important to achieving your business goals, engraining them into your company’s culture, and ensuring that you produce sustainable winning results.
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