Time and time again, we have heard business owners and executives make this statement. Coaches will recommend a disciplined approach to prioritizing each and every task, motivational speakers will recommend a “just say no” approach, but our philosophy is to build systems around decision-making.
Business owners are reluctant to delegate decisions and tasks because of a strong need to know about everything that happens inside the company – and perhaps the owner or executive never learned how to delegate. Over time, as the organization grows in size and complexity, the key decision-maker becomes more of a bottleneck, and the heuristics (rules of thumb, experience, requirements, dependencies) necessary to inform a smart decision are all trapped in the decision-maker’s head. Thus, the cycle of not delegating and becoming the bottleneck perpetuates.
With careful analysis, it is possible to extract this wealth of knowledge from the decision-maker’s head and build a system that is capable of replicating many of the same smart choices or – at the very least – serve as a filter that brings attention to crucial decisions only when necessary. From a large corporate perspective, this system may look like an executive management team. For the small to medium-sized business, this system could be a standard set of processes that inform role players on what to do in certain instances.
One of our clients was undergoing a transformation, and customer service response times began to exceed acceptable levels. After deeper analysis, it became evident that one person had become the bottleneck who was impacting the team’s ability to react quickly to customer inquiries. We worked with this individual to map her decision-making criteria and captured that process into a set of protocols for the rest of the team to follow. In one week, we measured a drastic improvement in customer response times and the organization was able to benefit from the dissemination of knowledge that had once been in one person’s head.
Though modern science cannot actually clone a person, it is possible to build a system that can serve as a pretty effective substitute.