While innovation must be a key value driver to every organisation, it’s not surprising that organisations become caught up in the Silicon Valley buzz word hype that they lose focus on the fundamentals of any successful business – executing amazing customer service and Delivering In Full, On Time and On Budget – or what accountants term DIFOTOB.
Which brings me to my case in point – McDonalds. While McDonalds may not be perceived by the market as the epitome of innovation, it is world class in one aspect that is not sexy by any means.
Wherever you are in the world and however measly your budget, you can always rely on a cheeseburger meal from Micky D’s and know that you’ll be greeted with consistent customer service, the same (or similar) menu and a standard quality of food. Basically, you know what you’re getting.
McDonald’s have built a global franchise and real estate empire with a repeatable and scalable business model. So how have they been able to execute it?
Processes, like McDonalds, are not sexy – they aren’t compelling – and they aren’t fun. The reality is that everything has a process. Starting from when you were baby. Before you learn to walk, you learn to crawl. Before you learn to write, you learn the alphabet.
Applying these principles to business, your role as founder and shareholder is to lead and build an organisation that runs without you. A company that carries your legacy – decades, centuries into the future. The less the business is dependent on you, the higher its intrinsic value.
The value of your business is attributable to two components – Brand and Intellectual Property.
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs” – Peter Drucker
The underlying people are replaceable. Yes it sounds cold and harsh, but it’s the truth. If you think I’m wrong, think about when a key staff member leaves your organisation and a handful of clients go on to follow them. Or take the other example, when you as founder decide to take a well-earned holiday and the business stops running. That’s what’s referred to as Key Man risk.
So, if a founder’s objective is to make themselves obsolete from the business, how does one effectively do this?
Efficient delegation requires processes, and building processes requires you to get your hands dirty and build them. If you are the architect of your business, it’s your role to lead sketching the plans.
Here’s an example – it’s the back office process map of our business.
Every function in our business has a documented process. From the way we generate leads, all the way through to fulfilment.
It’s taken a lot of hours developing our systems, and there’s no silver bullet when it comes to writing systems and processes for your own business. But is a rewarding process.
Here are the tools we recommend to make your job that little bit easier.
Confluence is one of the products in Atlassian’s suite of software. Its core features are ‘how to articles’ and a centralised knowledge base on the web, so everyone can contribute. It can take some getting used to initially, particularly with structuring pages and permissions, but a couple of procedures through and you will become a ninja.
It’s worth noting that the marketplace also has some great add-ons. We use Gliphy to diagrammatically map out all our processes.
Google Docs is a far simpler method to document procedures. We were initially using Google sheets and docs for our business, however found it became cumbersome as our processes were built. Recommendation? Use Confluence.
How to muster up the courage to start documenting processes
It is a daunting task, but like every goal – start with small bite sized chunks. Begin with a top down approach. I.e. If engaging a prospect, document the questions and information you need from them. Following that, move to engaging them, fulfilling the work, billing etc. etc.
Every time you begin a new process in your business, stop and spend the extra 30 mins documenting that process. It’s short term pain, but long term gain.
Make Ronald proud.