Note! Next week we are releasing a brand new podcast entitled “Break on Through: Quickly moving your business from Chaos to Control.” Go to the home page of the website on Tuesday June 2nd, any time after 12 Noon EST. You won’t want to miss this one…
Four Key Considerations for Creating Working Procedures
What is foundational to business systemization? Of course, setting direction and establishing rules-of-the-road are critical. (See Chapter Ten in my book Work the System: The Simple Mechanics of Making More and Working Less, for details about your Strategic Objective and Operating Principles.) However, Working Procedures are the every-day, real-time foundation for your new super-efficient business. Keeping your Working Procedures current means you can quickly adapt to changing circumstances, new markets, advanced technology, fast growth, unexpected shocks. etc.
But equally important, Working Procedures give you rock-solid stability that is probably missing elsewhere in your organization: you and your staff know exactly what’s going on. All of you know what’s expected and know precisely what to do…and your operation is super-efficient and hyper-profitable…
The following is adapted from Chapter Eleven of my book:
“Key consideration number one: Create a formal “bottom-up” corporate expectation whereby front line staff is encouraged, and expected, to pass recommendations up to managers. And managers will do the same with their managers, and so on, right on up to the top of the administration chain. In all cases, review of a recommendation should happen immediately. A fast bottom-up strategy is the key to both hyper-efficiency and staff buy-in, and yes, it’s contrary to traditional pass-down corporate/governmental thinking.
“Key consideration number two for designing, producing, and executing recurring procedures is to use the best solution every single time the process occurs. At Centratel, we collectively decide what works best in the majority of circumstances; we cast the procedure in concrete in written form; then we apply it exactly as written every single time. No matter who applies the protocol, the same best solution will always be applied, and therefore best results will almost always occur. It’s a numbers game and the opponent is randomness. To create a consistently superb primary system, internal subsystems must execute superbly. In the real world, will a Working Procedure provide a perfect result in every situation? Of course not, but results will be perfect most of the time, and that will be plenty good enough to ensure the primary system is performing with enormous overall efficiency.
“Key consideration number three is that procedure documentation is not limited to just the obvious problem protocols. It applies to all internal systems. Documenting a seemingly flawless system will often reveal small defects. If a subsystem is already 90 percent effective, yet it can be boosted to a level of 98 percent effectiveness, that’s obviously a good thing. It will take a while to turn every system into a Working Procedure, but the boost in efficiency due to these multiple efforts will accumulate geometrically. What could be better for a primary system than to spend your time incrementally improving its subsystems?
Key consideration number four is to create your Working Procedure documents for anyone “off-the-street.” This means that someone who doesn’t even work for your organization could instantly perform the process. These days, little goes wrong at Centratel or any of my other businesses, and what does go amiss is fixed immediately. As fire killing is reduced and more and more processes are automated and delegated, additional free time becomes available. This is the main reason our managers seldom work more than forty hours a week and why my workweek, as company owner and leader, is never more than two hours.
In a business, Working Procedures separate the average from the exceptional. Their existence distinguishes the small chaotic “entrepreneurial” business with no bottom line, from the calmly-growing and highly profitable enterprise.
Today, will you roll up your sleeves to begin the temporary heavy-lifting of creating your Working Procedures?
Photo by Jim Patterson, via flickr used under a creative commons license.