Hitting a hole in one was such an ego booster to a beginner golfer. I was thrilled when that happened half way through a 9-hole golf course. That summer, I thought I would only get better at this challenging sport. That was ten years ago. For the past few years, I didn’t even make it to the driving range. This summer, I am taking lessons. I am a beginner all over again. Thank goodness it is golf.
In business, we have seen major initiatives start with great fanfare but end with little results to show. One of the main reasons for the setback is a lack of resolute. This lack of resolute affects the outcomes in various ways throughout and way after the initiative is complete. There are several things you want to watch for.
The degree of success varies with the thoroughness in tackling issues. The challenge is whether the people involved see the root cause that they need to address. For instance, a poor job aid makes it difficult for the users to understand the information, leading to errors and rework. When a new tool is being considered, the immediate thought is to see whether there is a better approach to deliver the instructions. A better delivery mechanism does not help when the instructions are convoluted. A more effective improvement is to review the instructions and look for ways to simplify them. This applies to any digitization effort to overhaul business operations.
Team alignment makes a world of difference in bringing congruent ideas to the solution. I don’t mean a narrow view of what the solution should look like. It is the fundamental principles and objectives that you need your team’s full commitment. For example, centralized data entry seems logical for efficiency. The versatile and comprehensive software applications that are available today offer ease of access. Holding back data entry for the central group to do would only delay the work. A shift in duties will reduce the headcount for the data entry group and require reallocation of employees. There would be push back. You need full commitment to foster ‘real’ solutions that bring lasting results.
Tolerance for Deviations
Claims for uniqueness are used to justify desires for autonomy. While there are many situations which call for deviations from the standard operations, it is a necessary discipline to keep your processes and practices consistent. Failure to do so could be costly. For example, in implementing a new CRM application to automate current manual processes, you want to streamline the client data to be captured. You can offer optional data fields but you need to have a standard list of data that must be collected from every client. Otherwise, incomplete data leads to additional effort required to vet client lists for marketing events, follow up activities, and cross-selling. Deviations are exceptions that tend to create extra work. Minimize them if you could.
Failure to follow through
During the different phases of an initiative, there could be unexpected events that steer the team off to a tangent. They could be vendor problems, change resistance, or personnel issues. As there might not be sufficient time and resources to deal with every one of them, some of them might be listed for future follow-up. When the project is over, the ‘parking lot’ items are forgotten. For example, a need to review policies and guidelines could bring significant changes to the operations, which could impact the customers. For the business, completing the initiative reaches a milestone. However, the results delivered would be improved when there is proper follow through on specific issues.
Success is achieved cumulatively over time. An initiative is just the starting point for a significant change in how you execute. By developing a discipline in a constant drive to improve, you have an unending source of will power and energy to maintain the momentum for success.