For a team that is just embarking on this process of "executing" in a predictable manner, it helps to have a road map.
We would like to introduce you to the encouragework Maturity Model.
The encouragework Maturity Model has a natural progression for Teams to work through, along with a few guiding principles.
Guiding Principle # 1: Work Matters
In his book Every Good Endeavor author Timothy Keller shares anecdotes and content around the idea that every individual is called to work. There are many "kinds" of work and we need to be careful to not fall for the fallacy that some work is "better" than others. There is NOT a "sacred/secular" divide. We are all called to work, and just like a biological body which contains distinct members, we too have a specific role and we need to perform it until the job is complete or we are called to another role.
The roles we have in our lives generally only last for a "season" until we are ready for a new opportunity. While we are in a particular season, we need to work diligently, in obedience to the call upon our lives.
Guiding Principle #2: Focus on Throughput of the Organization
When working at "improving" the performance of the business, it is easy to fall into a couple of common traps.
Trap #1 is that if everyone improves their own area, the entire Team will improve. While this may work in some cases initially, it is not as applicable as we might like. The truth is that unless there is clarity on where an organization is constrained, any other improvements will either be wasted efforts or worse, can even become a set-back for the Team.
Trap #2 is that managing strictly by the numbers can cause you to focus too closely on things that do not matter.
If these two traps sound like two sides of the same coin, you're right. Author Eli Goldratt introduced the modern business world to his Theory of Constraints, or ToC. ToC teaches us to identify what is "the bottleneck" in an organization or a process and then to pace the rest of the organization around that bottleneck. Put energy into improving the bottleneck by all means; however, you never want to let other measurements and activity distract you from the primary area for improvement.
Guiding Principle #3: Work on the Important and Non Urgent items on a Regular Basis
In his business classic The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People author Stephen Covey introduces his popular Quadrant 2. Quadrant 2 is where the most productive work takes place. This is the area where individuals and Teams work on the Important, yet Not Urgent tasks. This has three benefits for us:
Benefit #1: Having a practice and a process for working on the non-urgent items minimizes the loss of focus and momentum that comes from many interruptions and "context switches". Issues always come up. Train your team to triage them and if they are not truly urgent, put them in the "Issues" list for review at a later, and regularly scheduled, time.
Benefit #2: If you have a regular time to resolve these Important issues, you can get the best thinking from your Team, collaborating to solve the issue within the context of a number of other, prioritized Issues.
Benefit #3: Your Team will not only resolve these important issues in a sane and timely manner, but your Team will also grow more confident that it can work well together to overcome obstacles and take advantage of opportunities. Working together in this way results in a much deeper level of trust, which is the most important ingredient for any Team's success.
encouragework Maturity Model
With these three Guiding principles to help frame our activities, let's step through the recommended progression of the encouragework Maturity Model in real, practical terms.
If you have a functional "business system" in place in your organization -- embrace it. encouragework.com can help you bring your current practices to life through one or more of its varied features.
If you don't know what a "business system" is, or,
You have heard about them but don't know where to start? Start here.
There are lots of workable tools on the market. We are a big fan of Traction and the Entreprenurial Operating System (EOS) as it is straight-forward to implement (with our without outside assistance) and brings results. Gino Wickman has distilled many best-practices into a cook-book for bringing disciplined activity to your business.
- Start with the basics of Traction and EOS for your executive team. This will introduce you to a set of easy-to-use tools such as the Vision Traction Organizer (V/TO), the Level 10 Meeting, Scorecards and the People Analyzer. All of these copyrighted tools have been proven in the marketplace. If you are unable to execute this important step on your own, consider retaining an experienced Traction/EOS Implementer to help get your Team moving forward. encouragework.com has a place for all of this information -- no need to spin up a SharePoint site or a DropBox account.
- Once your Team has the focus and organization that comes from the first step, it is time to introduce regular Accountability to the culture of your team. At this point you have specific Team Members responsible for various areas of your business. As items come up that need addressing, assign "ToDos" to Team Members and hold them accountable to complete these assignments in a timely fashion. As your team matures, you may consider a "meaningful monetary fine" for missed ToDos. Consider also a "reward" for when everyone on the Team completes their respective ToDos. You are now a Team and it is important that there be shared wins and losses along the way.
- Things that get measured tend to improve, so next we recommend that your Team establish a small number of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help track performance of the organization. You will want a blend of "Leading" and "Lagging" indicators to measure both your activity and your results. Be careful to select KPIs that truly matter -- not just numbers for the sake of counting things. Hint: if your KPIs are dominated by efficiency metrics or items that do not translate to improved customer experience, you likely have more work to do.
- As you work through your planning, each Team will identify significant opportunities to move the Team forward. These opportunities typically take more time to execute. We call these Initiatives. Some people call them quarterly goals. Some people call them Rocks. Call them whatever you like -- you need to identify what signficant items your Team needs to move forward in the next 60-90 days. Assign an owner to each of these Initiatives.
- At this point you will want to make sure that you are managing Issues in a Quadrant 2 manner. Put things on the Issues list and be diligent to address them during your regularly scheduled meeting. As you discuss the Issues and propose solutions, assign ToDos to your Team Members.
- After a season of working with your KPIs, it is time to introduce these KPIs to the broader company in the form of Dashboards. Identify the key metrics that really move the needle for your team and put up the "scoreboard." Win, together.
- Consider pushing this process "down" to other Teams such as Operations, Sales, Finance, and HR, as appropriate. Note that many of your KPIs may be shared amongst the various Teams. Also, your Team Members will now likely be on more than a single Team. As Team Members have their regular weekly meetings, they will begin to accumulate ToDos for their respective Teams. It is important to keep an eye on the overall workload of a Team Member so they do not over-commit from one week to the next.
- Consider expanding your selection of KPIs and look to automate the entry and management of this information. The more automated the data, the more opportunity you have for comparing and relating various KPIs. Find the patterns. Identify the key relationships. Track these relationships over time. Learn the story. Focus on the behaviors that matter for your Teams. Put them on your Dashboards.
- Time to Scale Up. At this point you are likely experiencing some momentum with your Teams and it may be time to dig a lttle deeper and consider some of the Scaling Up tools available both from Gazelles.com and within encouragework under MyTeam->Document templates.
- Share your information with key stakeholders. Create a dashboard and include on the dashboard just the items that are pertinent to your respective advisors. Share the link to their custom dashboard page. Create as many different Dashboards as you like -- it is a common practice to have a handful of Dashboards for various purposes.
- Reduce the distractions. Now that your team is accustomed to operating by key metrics, it is time to extract a handful of useful values from your KPIs and email them to yourself on a daily basis. This way, you see just the crucial numbers, without needing to do anything other than scan an email. Imagine yourself OUT OF THE OFFICE, either enjoying family time, meeting with new prospective clients, and/or having an influence in your community.
- You now have margin in your life and on your calendar.
- Continue to push this model throughout your organization and share it with others.