3 processes that grow businesses from the inside out
As the end of the year draws near, business teams across the globe are analyzing their results and applying lessons learned to strategically determine how to move forward in 2019. Typically, numbers are the main focus of these discussions. Sales numbers, customer numbers, market penetration numbers — all are measurable metrics that indicate growth, direction, and business health. But numbers aren’t the only elements that should be actively and regularly examined to fuel business growth. There are process components that fundamentally drive top-line numbers. The three below should be regularly reviewed, updated, and adjusted along with other operational strategies.
For almost every business, the word “audit” evokes all sorts of negativity. Though the word itself — and the bad reputation that the IRS has created around it — can be daunting, the concept is critical for progress to occur, especially inside business organizations. Audits and assessment processes aren’t solely about financial processes, as any organization concerned with growth and innovation should be evaluating its public messaging and image, product portfolio, sales channels, etc. on a regular basis to keep current, relevant, and progressive in its management. Annual assessments of what is working, what needs to be changed, and what is past its prime keeps focus on the organization’s goals and objectives — and can help limit unnecessary baggage that the business can shed to be more efficient. Market changes happen much more rapidly with globalization and technology advancing much faster than in the past, and in order to keep up (or stay ahead), businesses need to be continuously assessing their position and direction.
Many suggest that annual audits be a part of any business’s operational processes because “the most effective way to ensure that a company’s risk is properly identified and eliminated is to create and follow an ‘annual audit plan.’” Integrating assessment processes into an annual habit keeps business owners and CEOs asking, “Where are we?” and “Where do we want to be?” as part of active operations reviews, not just part of a dusty strategic plan that isn’t regularly referenced.
There are more alliterations for business productivity than we can list here (People, Process, Technology; Purpose, People, Process; Process, Product, People; etc.) but they all seem to have two elements in common: people and process. From hiring and onboarding to skills development, team productivity, and peer mentoring, the processes that support personal interaction are what drive business success.
Ranging from formal to free-flowing and organic, many businesses are embracing “people processes” that encourage collaboration and idea generation within the organization, and even those that are focused on problem solving, so that the decisions made and actions taken are products of larger teams and not reliant on the intelligence or experience of a single individual. The result of a team interaction is always superior to an individual effort. Collective knowledge, perspective, and opinion are more diverse and open, and the outcome of team discussions and decisions are more representative of, and connected to, the whole community.
Business leaders are advised to continuously “ask if you have the best process in place to enable people to optimize their performance. Are systems and processes fluid, or are they creating roadblocks to success?” Just as human resource departments and managers from all disciplines evaluate the right skill sets and competencies for each role in the organization — and how to fit the right people into those roles — the processes that are in place to allow employee interaction and development should also be evaluated to make sure they’re working correctly.
Beyond the operational needs of making sure the right roles are being filled by the right people — and that the jobs at hand are getting done — there are additional development processes that will help elevate the organization even further. This is about leadership development, team building, executive management training, and other processes that elevate people beyond their single position and individual responsibilities inside the organization. Organizations shouldn’t “underestimate the value of conducting simple, easy-to-implement leadership activities that bring your team together and teach them valuable workplace skills.”
Leadership input through peer groups is also a vital process and resource for CEOs and business owners. The process of actively seeking input from others and expanding knowledge from different perspectives, in nearly every instance, leads to resilient decision making and more successful strategies for whatever challenge is at hand. Many CEOs in the peer groups I’m involved in insist on peer feedback for critical business decisions.
The obvious process this time of year is budgeting, but other planning processes are equally instrumental for navigating the next set of goals for your business. If the goal is more customers, new segments, or new markets, an engagement plan and the process to execute it become critical. If investment is needed or sought (i.e., the company is going public), or the organization is planning to merge or sell, planning for the maximum value of the company is tantamount to success in that area.
Business owners are often very skilled in their industry, their products, and their company, but that doesn’t always translate to expertise in preparing the company for investment or sale. Working with owners and leaders in that situation, myself and others who work with company leadership groups have tools and expertise in value building that we can share to help that planning process move forward.
One of these tools is called the Value Builder System, which guides business owners and CEOs through the process of building value in eight key areas. The process is based on the current business status, which is determined by a “value builder score” that comes from a brief questionnaire on the business and its practices.
There is a track record of success for using tools like this, as results from more than 40,000 users indicate companies that achieve a score of 80-plus are predicted to get offers that are 71 percent higher than the average business. It’s not just the score though; it’s what you do to improve that score to its maximum potential that matters.
Dr. Kiu Leung is executive forums and coaching leader for Renaissance Executive Forums in Madison. His executive leadership stems from more than 20 years of leadership development, quality assurance, regulatory affairs, research and development, and manufacturing experience, largely in the medical device industry.
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