If surviving this pandemic crisis has resulted in deep cuts inside your organization, you’re probably all too familiar with the mantra “do more with less.” Your competitive advantage will come from smart management of scarce, very scarce resources. This means eliminating the drag and waste on the organization that is challenging during normal times and detrimental when you are trying to run lean.
So what do I mean by drag? I’ll use the definition from the book “Time, Talent, Energy“ by Mankins and Garton of Bain & Co (this is a fabulous book, well researched and I highly recommend it). They define organizational drag as:
“The collection of institutional factors that slow things down, decrease output, and drain people’s energy.”
I chose this image of running through the mud because I think this image embodies exactly how drag feels on the organization. Drag prevents us from getting business back on track as quickly as possible and returning to growth.
This is the first in a three-part series of posts designed to help you eliminate the drag on your business.
The Biggest Sources of Drag
The sources of drag are numerous and some might be unique to a company or industry, but they typically fall into these three categories:
Noise is all of the non-essential activities, meetings, projects, and things we do as a matter of conditioning or legacy, that no longer serve us. In this post, I’ll teach you what I call a “Create Capacity Discipline” that will help quiet the noise so you can focus on the signal.
Broken Core Processes
What I mean by a core process is one that is central to delivering the value proposition to the customer and running the organization. In the next post, I’ll share ways you can uplevel core processes to create more capacity and improve quality.
In my last post in the series, we’ll cover everyone’s favorite topic and one of the biggest sources of drag and that’s ineffective meetings.
Imagine what you can accomplish without these holding you back! Let’s start with how to create more capacity.
Create Capacity Discipline
The antidote to quieting the noise that drags down the business is implementing a Create Capacity Discipline. So what is that?
A Create Capacity Discipline is the continuous process of purging/pruning those activities, processes, projects, meetings, that create drag on the organization so that you can free up more capacity inside the organization to work on the most important initiatives.
Most organizations are great at adding things to the list and coming up with what we need to be doing, but it takes a real commitment to discipline to ask what can we stop doing? What no longer makes sense?
Noise includes things like:
- Projects that aren’t in alignment with strategic priorities
- Core processes that take too long
- Activities no longer serve us
- Unnecessary or ineffective meetings
Continually identifying and purging this noise is essential in an agile organization.
The way we create this discipline is through a cross-functional team worksession that you conduct 2 – 3 times a year. The goal of this work session is to find ways to free up our capacity and give ourselves a little breathing room by identifying unproductive processes, tasks, or activities that take up too much time/energy and no longer serve our needs.
I’ve included a few example questions you can use below to guide these discussions.
By using strategic priorities as the framework, we can identify those things we do today that are not in alignment with our priorities or are no longer productive. Prioritize those ideas as a team and recommend an immediate action plan to eliminate or modify them.
For complete details on how to run a Create Capacity Worksession, download my free guide below.
Download My FREE Guide
I’ll send you my How to Run a Create Capacity Worksession Guide.
You’ll love it!
Questions to Consider
Here are some examples of questions you can ask to help identify the activities that no longer serve you. These are also included in the download guide above.
Are there activities or projects not in alignment with our strategy?
Are there processes that are too complex, take up too much time and/or result in approval or decision bottlenecks?
Are there rules and procedures that made sense at one time but may no longer serve us?
Are there things we are doing because “we’ve always done them” and we aren’t sure how productive or relevant they might be now? Might there be a better way?
Are there meetings we have now that would be more or equally effective if approached differently?
The idea behind the Create Capacity Discipline is to get your organization to have a lean, continuous improvement mindset. Your team should know it’s ok and that they are expected to be always assessing work, processes, etc. to make sure it still is valuable.
To truly make this a discipline so that it becomes the way people think inside the organization, I recommend doing it 2 -3 times a year. That’s a great opportunity for alternating core team members so that you can expand the participation and the quality of the input.
We are excellent at adding projects, initiatives, meetings on a regular basis. It takes discipline to be equally good at asking, “what can we stop doing” to create more capacity inside the organization.
In the next post, I’ll share some techniques for upleveling core processes to free up more capacity, time, and energy.
Stay safe and be well.