Why an “Ology” Matters!

KPL003 blog

Most businesses operate within a framework of processes that get the job done; well sometimes it gets done, other times it gets almost done and sometimes it doesn’t quite get done.

Most successful businesses operate with a methodology that ensures that the job gets done!

Many businesses have established ways of doing things, often documented in a quality management system, which ensures that they don’t have to think about the process of getting work done!

Unfortunately that means they assume that the team are aware of the process and indeed operate according to the processes which were often laid out many years earlier when the business looked different and perhaps had different challenges. As the business grew ‘things happened’ which meant that short cuts or adjustments to the process ‘naturally’ occurred, and before the management knew it, the processes which had served the organisation well were in fact resigned to the back of the filing cabinet so that the teams could just get on with things. Which is all fine until something untoward happens or until someone who knows how things get done leaves or retires and then of course problems start to kick in.

Does this sound familiar?

The problem is that business processes matter to people and businesses!

They can be the framework that enables things to hang together or they can be a fundamental basis of the organisations success model. If these methodologies are adjusted they should be adjusted as a matter of intent rather than a natural drift!

As an interim manager, all too often I see organisations that suffer from well meaning ‘initiatives’ to regenerate a methodology that delivers results, but frequently the initiative is aimed at tuning or re-creating what already exists rather than asking the fundamental questions about the business strategy and tactics to achieve that strategy.

If the organisation is mis-aligned with its strategy it really does not matter how well the business frameworks and processes are implemented a disconnect has to occur. 

Over many years’ I have used the Logo Visual Thinking (LVT) approach to drilling down into businesses root issues.

LVT is a simple to use methodology but produces remarkable results by liberating and developing peoples thinking about often complex issues which can produce outstanding results. I recently ran a workshop for a technology company. The people involved were aware that their attrition rate of new employees was too high and that the loss of staff after a relatively short period was both inefficient and expensive! They did not understand why new staff found it difficult to settle in and become part of the existing team. By using LVT to identify answers to fundamental questions, a new approach to recruitment and retention of staff was devised. This focussed on getting the right people and keeping them. A new methodology was implemented and documented that identified what would take place for each new employee during their first 100 days with the business, and this was presented as a swim lane chart during the interview process. The attrition rate was significantly reduced and the business efficiency soared with new staff becoming part of a team and contributing rapidly to their success.

Previously the management had employed competent people in the belief that they would fit in and become productive just as they had done when the business was established. Without thinking about the impact on new starters, new employees perceived the company as a close knit club and decided that the various social and technical barriers to breaking in to the club as too high and therefore voted with their feet. 

This is a key to many strategic issues. Over time management becomes comfortable with the way things are done, and it’s not until external critical eyes are applied that cracks in the operating “ology’s” appear. Frequently the CEO knows instinctively that something’s is not quite right, but is too busy maintaining the drivers of the business to investigate the root issues, and make fundamental changes that enable the business to prosper.

As an Interim I operate with a proven methodology - an Ology. I have used LVT as a tool in many business functional areas, from sales, marketing, project management, operations and finance, not to mention support services such as HR. In all cases the key is to ask the right questions, and have a methodology to capture and implement new ideas, which can be fully thought through. It seems to me that many organisations have become stuck in their ways of doing things, and have lost the ability to think about why they are doing things the way they are.

Now that may be a great thing for some businesses, but perhaps it’s time to go back to basics and start thinking about what “Ology’s” are in place, in your business, and even consider why you are doing the things that you think you are doing well?

What are your thoughts?

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