If you know where you are….

34th street subway nyc © ian beckett

It’s easy to get to where you are going. From 34th Street Station in the picture, to the top of the Empire State, is a short walk.

In business, it is just as simple except, people always seem to get in the way. I assume your immediate response whether you are a manager or team player is that “this is a managers role”.

Maybe, but, there are “good” and “bad” managers”. What makes you a good manager or just another fungible human asset?

I started thinking about this topic when one of my children commented on advice I had given some years ago on the subject of career, “Become indispensable, add value”. I wondered how many of us go to work daily with these objectives, and how do you set about “becoming indispensable”?

Back to the heading — if you want to get to “indispensable” you first have to know where you are and where your business are now.

In all the multiple global businesses that have paid me a good salary over the years I have focused on two things:-

  • Improving product delivery — Product Life Cycle Management — reduce the cost of scaling and diversifying, improve competitiveness, beat the competition.
  • Improving service delivery — Sourcing, supply and support — reduce the cost of serving the customer, reduce the time to resolve issues and improve customer satisfaction.

This appears simple. But in managing global people, products and processes, I found that many managers focused at the next link in their internal customer chain, and not how they were performing in the end-to-end product and service delivery objectives of the business. A good bad example is the passionate quality managers and teams who use, Lean, Agile, Six Sigma, TQM, BPM processes as an end in themselves rather than a means to an end.

It’s easy to blame the managers of course. I have found that managers and teams typically give 100% commitment at doing the wrong thing perfectly. Simply communicating their role in terms of the overall business objective and helping them see where everyone fits in the process has saved my businesses hundreds of millions of dollars. I suppose much of the resistance I experienced, was when I started with the word “simplify” as this is not appreciated by stressed employees.

Education does not help. Your sales and marketing departments have typically received a “divergent” education focused at expansion expanding variability and change. This is in conflict with your engineering and support departments whose engineers have received a “convergent” education focused on reducing variability and change.

So here are nine words to qualify “simplify” and to help you on a road to becoming indispensable by looking at the end-to-end operations of your business.

  • Identify business barriers — DETAIL, DISCUSS, DECIDE — prioritise what’s important for the desired impact.
  • Identify opportunities for improvement — REVIEW, REDUCE, REPLACE — prioritise what’s important to maximise saving or sales.
  • Identify achievable change — PEOPLE, PRODUCT, PROCESS — by ensuring that the people and products and process are aligned, like you were taught about magnetism in school, your business will be more competitive in the served market.

Hence when you establish the “AS IS” of where you are now — and “simplify” — you can progress on the journey to get to your personal and businesses “TO BE” destination — every time.

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Ian Beckett MSc

Ian Beckett MSc

Ian is a digital transformation expert who has saved companies over $200m by integrating technologies and diverse global teams effectively— he is a CEO and poet