Five Steps To Transform Your Messy Business Into A Well Oiled Machine
Companies have a way of getting themselves all tangled up and unnecessarily complicated. These organizations also fail to properly plan out their endeavors so after year's of business operations, there's a big mess that needs untangling before the company can move forward and thrive.
Ideally, a company follows a framework like IDEMA from their origin but in reality, they almost never do. This pattern describes both companies I've worked with and a stage of owning my own marketing company.
But, there is hope to make it out alive and build an agile and effective company. The following strategy is a way for tangled companies, departments, and teams to regroup, set a new strong foundation, and establish a pattern of healthy growth.
Stages Of A Company (Department or Team) Reorganization
We'll dive into each of these further in the article, but for now here is a quick glance at the five steps to untangle the mess and move towards organized, streamlined operations.
Tackle Low Hanging Fruit (High Impact, Low Effort)
Make What’s Left Better
Identify & Fill In The Gaps (What's Missing?)
Master Maintenance (from our new foundations)
Which of these five stages do you find yourself?
1 - Tackle Low Hanging Fruit
When I first begin working with my clients, I'm immediately looking for high impact low effort (That's how I define low hanging fruit) tasks we can tackle. These early wins fuel our future efforts, buy us time, and help build trust with my clients.
Whether you're helping a company find and gather this low hanging fruit or your leading a team through this step, having big early wins quickly increase motivation and justifies continued activity. It's extremely challenging to make broad sweeping improvements in a group or organization that don't have an immediate return. By establishing a track record of early and easy successes builds trust with clients empowering us to ask for more dramatic changes that require more time to bear fruit.
On the practical side of things, we also want these wins to generate revenue, increase conversions or help us better deliver on what we're selling. If we're making more money and our efforts are a large contributor, asking for more resources is no longer an issue. These early wins fund the next steps in the process.
2 - Simplify Everything
It's bizarre how many small companies are over committed. They're doing more than they could ever realistically accomplish even in an ideal scenario. But I get it because I was in this very situation with my marketing company. It wasn't until I started building a blueprint for our organization and documenting all the active, inactive and abandoned projects did I realize how over-committed we truly were. We had a small team of fewer than ten people, yet we had hundreds of internal projects and dozen of clients we were serving. Once I saw how many balls we were attempting to juggle at once, I realized how truly insane we were.
Burning ourselves and other people out was no longer a viable strategy for building our business. This insanity had to stop and we began intentionally abandoning and retiring things that we couldn't fulfill with excellence. In other cases, we merged multiple like projects together to prevent waste and foster a more streamlined approach. We sought to find ways to change how we're doing what we're doing that would make it easier and faster to manage well. As much as we did this, it was still hard for me to let these ideas and projects go.
In a sense, my current freelancing business is a great example of the simplify everything. I ended the company and isolated it down to a focused set of services within a set amount of guidelines. I now manage less, have more impact, earn more income. and work fewer hours. I do more with less, and it's awesome.
What if you could shrink your business operations, manage less responsibility, make more money, and have more time with family and doing the things you love? This is what's at stake by not simplifying everything.
3 - Make What's Left Better
The reason we simplify everything before this stage is because we want to minimize the volume of things we're going to improve. It takes time to make things better and usually we have a lack of resources, not an abundance, so operating within our limitations is key to our long-term success.
Actions, projects and people that made it past the simplify everything campaign now become our focus. Our mission to make the things we've kept as awesome as they can be. However we can leverage them to our benefit, we will.
By earning some quick wins and simplifying everything, we’re now energized working in this stage. With less to focus on and more resources to dedicate we can do things that were impossible to do before the big audit.
We'll also continue organizing what we're keeping, so we can accurately and easily see the gaps and missing pieces in the next step.
What if everything you created was done with excellence? What if you were looked up to as a shining example? By making what’s left better you’ll be knocking it out of the park.
4 - Identify & Fill The Gaps
At this point, we should have good visibility on our portfolio of actions, projects, processes, and people. By completing the last step, we’ve also established a standard of excellence we’ll adhere to as we fill the gaps.
Next, we’ll survey the landscape to identify what we're missing and how we’ll go about filling these gaps. This step of the process is a deliberate one where we scan each area of the business to discover what important elements are missing. We want to find things we need or that will make us stronger, but they’ve got to build on what we’ve done so far, not distract us.
I’ve got a client where we’re working through a rich library of written blog content. As we’ve gotten the archives organized, consolidated and merged, we’re seeing which blogs posts we now need to create to complete our collection. And a “completed collection” is a good symbol for understanding when we’ve finished this step in the process.
What if you found and took advantage of every opportunity in a solid and effective way across the board? What if you had little to no blind spots in your business? Filling in all the gaps moves us toward this type of flourishing.
5 - From This Foundation, Master Maintenance
When we arrive at this step, we’ve achieved a great accomplishment. It’s a powerful feeling to transform an existing business in such a dramatic way. But it’s this new foundation which will become our springboard to new and amazing business growth.
From a solid and deliberately created foundation and framework, we leverage our positioning and approach to scale our efforts in a large and speedy way. If these first four stages were preparing the launching pad and rocket to go into space, this step is where we actually launch!
But while we will continue to create new things along the way, it’s our ability to maintain with excellence over a long period of time that will create the type of growth we hope and expect. It’s the daily push of our twenty-mile march building momentum over days, weeks, months and years that lead to dramatic business transformation for the history books.
It Takes Time, But You Can Make It Happen
Depending on the size and complexity of your company’s tangled web will determine how long this process will take. Expect several years to go through the first four steps and live into the fifth.
By following the steps ordered above, you’ll have a long-lasting business and a powerful sense of accomplishment as you build and sustain the growth of your business.
Now go get started and find that low hanging fruit!