I wish I could give you a simple answer. I'll try, I promise!
Organisations are complex creations, and they are all unique. However, you know how 3D glasses make certain things from a screen stand out? Having the eyes of an outsider when looking at your business can help you to see things in 3D. Your eye gets drawn to things that stand out.
I firmly believe that everyone needs a supportive nudge now and again, otherwise we get too comfortable and stop pushing ourselves as hard as we actually want to go.
As per my usual coaching method, I'll show you a model to get you thinking, and we'll use it to identify some areas for improvement in your business. If you want to ignore the model and go straight to the bottom to get the tips, feel free.
The 3 spheres model
There are many ways to think about organisations. For this post, I'm going to use one that I use for my smaller clients. There are 3 main areas of a business that I think are important: strategy, processes and people.
Sphere 1: Strategy
The outer sphere is very 'meta' - it's the big stuff of the organisation. Many people call it strategy, and it includes a large number of aspects relating to the organisation's purpose, mission and identity. This spawns out into areas such as strategic planning, business strategy, marketing strategy, brand identity, business narratives and the organisational storytelling related to organisational values and leadership.
Sphere 2: Processes and systems
Within the larger sphere of identity and strategy, we add the sphere of 'how the business works'. This is mostly the day-to-day - all the moving parts of your organisation - how is work planned, allocated, communicated, carried out, and wrapped up? It also includes all of the systems that get used (databases, email reminders, appointment books), and everything about how decisions are made internally - who in the organisation has decision-making power, how are decisions made, how are people hired and fired etc.
Sphere 3: The people
The centre sphere is the people in the organisation. This may seem minor relative to the 'hard' areas of the other spheres. However, it's actually far more make-or-break for organisations than most people realise. It encompasses how managers manage, how communication happens, how motivated employees and leaders are, and how much time is spent dealing with issues, rather than moving forward with the work of the business.
Above the spheres: Culture and how people make the model
Once you add more than one 'who' in the middle sphere, you begin talking about how people work together in groups - organisational culture. And part of the problem is that people actually permeate all the way across all of the spheres. Think about when you tried to do something with other people. It's almost never a simple undertaking.
Let's imagine that a real estate agent wants to do something relatively straightforward in Sphere 2 - put in place a new database for handling client information. While a little complex, it should go something like assess your needs, scope solutions, purchase, implement.
However, the project will most likely come undone due to 'people' factors. Competing needs, a lack of clarity or communication of purpose, fear of a new system, people not giving it time in their priority list, indecisiveness, meeting after meeting to discuss who's responsible for what - sound familiar for almost any organisational process? The challenges are almost always 'people' ones.
Get to it - what can I do to improve my business?
The model above is a way that you can isolate areas of your business for improvement. Here's some exercises:
- Look at the 3 spheres. When you think about your organisation, which sphere(s) does it handle well? Which could be improved?
- Choose one thing per month - focus on it and improve it in that month, and move on to the next thing on your list.
- In looking at sphere 1, is your 'why' solid? Do you make a compelling case to your potential customers/clients?
- Do you have your business goals all laid out and ready to go? If your answer is 'no', you really are sabotaging yourself. And you should email me to do a business planning Skype consultation.
- Another sphere 1 question - do you know how you are perceived by your clients? Would it help to find out?
- In sphere 2, are there any process, quality or systems issues which are making you tear your hair out? Do you need to spend a little bit of time doing some research, or eat some humble pie and get some advice?
- Sphere 2 can really affect quality, customer experience and staff experience. Are there any indicators that you have any wrinkles through this area?
- Sphere 3: How do your personality traits as a leader affect your business (trust me, they do, although there are good ones and bad ones)? Are you aware of them? Getting a coach or mentor can really help you here.
- Sphere 3: Do you notice when your staff's traits are helping or hindering your business? You can yell at them or tell them to stop, but it's probably not going to work. I can train you in coaching skills for managers, in order to get the best out of your people.
- Culture: Do you know how your people feel about coming to work? How do they act when they're there? What do you do if you don't think your culture is good?
There are so many more areas for exploration. These questions are generally in line with my business coaching principles:
- Start big, then focus on the right things and get detailed in those areas.
- Set goals in the right areas, and you will fly.
- Measure what you need to measure, in order to see progress and make changes.
- There is no right or wrong or failing. There is Trying, Testing, Learning, Repeating. Fast.
As a coach, we'll carefully navigate over any area of your business or approach that we need to. Why not email me for a free first consultation to discuss what we can do together?