Six ways to build by simplifying
Innovation is a cornerstone of successful businesses. It’s an essential part of companies that stay ahead of the market, that turn customers into raving fans, that thrive no matter the circumstances and challenges.
A basic business reality is this: There’s no standing still; you’re either moving forward (and growing) or backward (and declining).
The challenge of being an organization that’s moving forward and growing is that growth often leads to complexity and, says Krystal Parker, “Complexity crushes innovation.”
Parker’s boutique consulting company, Intent and Impact, specializes in creating executive and board level strategies as well as developing organizational leadership programs. Parker also serves as the president of the Central Florida Christian Chamber of Commerce.
“The more money you make, the more people you hire—it leads to more policies, rules, processes, and layers of management,” Parker says. “That slows down the machine.”
The Bible includes a classic example: “Moses came down from the mountain with ten commandments, and somehow that evolved into hundreds, if not thousands, of laws. You fast forward to Jesus in the temple. He’s righteously angry, he’s flipping over tables,” Parker says. “He said, ‘This is a house of prayer and you filled it with robbers and thieves.’ Something that was meant to be good and simple turned into something that wasn’t because of the rules and the processes that gradually evolved. And that’s what happens in organizations.”
The solution, Parker says, is simplicity. She offers six ways to simplify your business.
1. Be sure every process and rule you have in place, every decision you make, aligns with your company’s purpose and mission.
Why do you do the things you do? If something doesn’t align with your company’s purpose and mission, either stop it or change it. This means asking tough and sometimes painful questions, but it must be done.
2. Make it easy to do business with you.
Simplify the processes for your customers to deal with you and simplify the internal processes that are in place to serve your customers. For example, make it easy for customers to contact you and empower your people to do what’s necessary to respond to them.
3. Eliminate redundancy.
Look for places where multiple people are doing the same function and consolidate and streamline if you can. Of course, you need backups and cross-training, but cut out superfluous functions.
4. Eliminate unnecessary meetings and bureaucracy.
Be sure every meeting is necessary and give people permission to not go to a meeting when their presence would not be productive. If you don’t know the reason for a process, figure it out—and if it’s not required, stop doing it.
5. Look at every position and ask tough questions.
Often we get comfortable with positions in a company and don’t even think to ask if there is a way to add technology and utilize this person or position for another more important role that aligns with the company’s mission. As your mission, technology, and customers’ needs evolve, so will the roles of your staff, their job descriptions, and your expectations of their performance.
6. Assess how you as the leader are spending your time.
Be sure that your time is spent working on the business, doing things that are income-producing and creating value for your customers and your employees.
Parker circles back to the Ten Commandments, saying, “When Jesus was asked which was the most important commandment, He said:
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-39, NIV)
“It really is that simple—in life and in business. But no organization, no business, naturally drifts toward simplicity as it grows. It will get more complex. What we have to do as leaders is examine what we’re doing in the organization, understand the why, and simplify everywhere we can. That’s what will keep us innovating and growing.”
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