Listen to Les McKeown read this blog post:
As leaders, we’re all constantly on the lookout for new ways to scale our organizations – new books, new ideas, new processes – anything that will give us an edge and bring sustainability as we grow.
Here are three concepts that we at Predictable Success have worked with extensively this year, with substantial impact for both our clients and our own organization:
This first growth concept comes with the added benefit of sounding cool.
‘Tori’ is the plural of ‘torus’…and if you are none the wiser, a torus is essentially the shape of a doughnut. (I guess ‘Dunkin’ Tori’ didn’t have quite the same ring.)
Why do you care? Well, start by picturing your organization not as a classic ‘command-and-control’ org chart, with boxes and lines, but as a set of nesting tori (think of the concentric circles at the bullseye of a dartboard):
- Torus One (T1) is your most senior executive team, and it sits right at the center.
- Torus Two (T2) is your ‘middle manager’ group – it forms the ‘second ring’.
- Torus Three (T3) comprises your team leaders, shift leaders and project leaders, etc.
- Torus Four (T4) are your individual contributors - front line employees with no direct reports. T4 forms the outer ring of the bullseye.
Here’s what we’ve found: Building and communicating strategy in and out of concentric tori is more organic, breeds better quality discussions, unlocks more delegation, and instills greater accountability than communicating up and down a command and control org chart.
Why? We’re still working that out. The feedback we are getting is that folks find it more inclusive, more organic, less ‘top-down', and handles the complexities of matrixed (i.e. cross-functional) activities much better than more rigid, org-chart-based communications.
"Building and communicating strategy in and out of concentric tori is more organic, breeds better quality discussions, unlocks more delegation, and instills greater accountability than communicating up and down a command and control org chart". - Les McKeown, Founder and CEO, Predictable Success
One of the key aspects of high performance in almost any field of achievement is pace. Think of any great musician, great sportsperson, great performer – even great comedians – and you’ll instantly recognize the degree to which pace and cadence play a vital role in their success.
The role of cadence in business success is equally important, just not as visible. Here are just some of the areas in which we’ve had great success in simply changing cadences up (or down):
Scheduled meetings – Most structured meeting have a cadence ‘sweet spot’ – daily, weekly, monthly, etc. But often we either never find that sweet spot or, if we do, circumstances change and render the existing cadence clunky - without us ever making an appropriate adjustment. Regularly reviewing your existing meetings inventory and overhauling their cadence is well worth doing.
Internal meeting structure – As far as internal cadence is concerned, most scheduled meetings have a start time and an end time, and that’s it. We’re achieving great productivity gains in scheduling start and stop times for each major agenda item. (This is part of our highly acclaimed ‘4D Process’, which you can find more about here.)
Pop-ins, and one-shot communications – There’s a ton of research that shows how costly dealing with ‘one-hit’ interruptions is to our productivity. One study estimates it can consume up to six hours a day.
We’re seeing real productivity gains by instituting scheduled ‘mop-up’ meetings, whereby an Internal Customer Pair set a regular cadence (usually weekly) to mop-up all the previous week’s one-hit-wonders in one go, together, leaving interruptions to be used only for genuine emergencies.
Hint: Once you start doing this, you’ll be surprised to discover how few 'genuine emergencies' there really are! (Find out more about the power of Internal Customer Pairs here.)
Systems and processes are great. Seriously. If you know anything about us here at Predictable Success, you’ll know that the core of our organizational growth model predicates the use of systems and processes to achieve sustainable scalability.
Used too clinically or too clumsily, however, systems and processes will at the least slow your growth, and at worst, push your business toward Treadmill, and into decline.
Want to ensure that your folks use your systems and processes consistently but nimbly and flexibly? Consider the use of protocols. What do we mean by protocols? Well, in this context, we define it like this:
“A protocol is an overarching guideline for optimal use of a specific system or process.”
So, for example, you may have an accounting system that ensures your accounts receivables (A/R) are updated and a report is run on the last Thursday of the month. But you might benefit from a protocol that prompts the immediate production of the A/R report should your cash on hand drop to say, less than x weeks operational burn rate.
Or you may have a scheduling process that people adhere to if they want to get a meeting with the CEO; but you may well benefit from a protocol that allows each VP a once-per-month ability to access the CEO’s calendar directly in order to schedule a one-on-one at their request.
Think about your key systems and processes – which of them would benefit from one or more associated protocols?