Is Your Organisation Streamlined?

Kobi Simmat talks trimming the fat in your organisation, to remain agile and proactive in the dynamic world of business.

I’ve said time and again that I’m in the fortunate position of being able to witness firsthand how other organisations go about their work, and the resounding consensus from management teams that I’ve gathered is that they’re much better prepared when they’ve got a streamlined way of doing business. There’s nothing more unfortunate, however, than seeing organisations that have a great final product or service, but remain bogged down by ancient policies and procedure, or lack the proactivity and foresight to implement strategies before a situation devolves to an existential crisis.

Addressing the issue of streamlining your organisation comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, but the basic principles remain the same regardless of your industry or scope of operations: there’s a few key areas to pay attention to, and the flow-on benefits of hitting these nails on the head will surely make your organisation more streamlined as it moves into the future.

Let’s jump in.

First up, one of the key ways to increase the streamlined-nature and efficiency of your organisation requires you to take some time out and reflect. Try raising this at your next management review or strategic planning session, and ask if everyone in the room can help out in identifying ways to improve the speed of your delivered product or service. One of the most effective ways to do this is to map out a process flow, from start to finish in the context of your end deliverable. Remember that while it’s difficult to maintain your objectivity, the customer remains your most important stakeholder, and if they could be better served by the streamlining of some of your operations, this should remain a top priority for your organisation.

Don’t be afraid to experiment or innovate. This is, more often than not, where I see a lot of organisations not holding up their end of the bargain when it comes to streamlining their organisation. I’m inundated by comments from managers looking to improve the nature of their end deliverables, but when I tell them that they might need to dramatically shake up how they do business, they reply with the fairly common sentiment that they’re afraid to experiment too much.

In a lot of ways, this is understandable, particularly when you consider the investment of time and resources into researching and implementing something that may well end up in your organisation’s scrap-heap, but some of the most profound improvements your organisation can make remains from experimentation; it’s quite often the difference between organisations that fail, and those that prosper.

You should also be doing your research on your competitors, which can act to identify shortfalls in your processes, or areas that you’re excelling and exceeding customer expectations. At times, it’s difficult to determine whether or not your organisation is on or off track in achieving its goals and maintaining a high level of customer service, so this comparison with your competitors can be one of the most effective means of identifying problems for you to fix before your next management review session.

This is probably the biggest takeaway from this piece: keep it simple. KEEP IT SIMPLE! I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve said this sentence to organisations looking for help and guidance. The simpler your system is, the more you can tailor it to work for you, rather than counter to the interests of your organisation. It exists to provide a platform for your organisation, not to over-complicate it and bog it down. Streamlined organisations have a simple management system that exists to help achieve that organisation’s mission statement… that’s all it needs to be, so if your processes and procedures are hundreds of pages of documents, do yourself a favour and slim this down to single-digit business plans and easily accessible process flows for your staff to actually use, not be intimidated by.

Once you’ve identified a shortcoming in your process flow, as well as a potential solution, you need to put subjectivity and people’s feelings to the side, and maintain that the data is representative of just how effective that solution was… or wasn’t. It doesn’t matter if the new process or procedure was put forward by the CEO- if the data is showing that there’s been no increase in efficiency - or the streamlined nature - of your organisation, it needs to be scrapped in favour of something more effective. This is where having effective meetings comes into the foray.

Make sure your meetings are purposeful and effective. I recently wrote a piece on how to have effective meetings, which you can access here, which will drive home the point that it’s simply not enough to assemble all the important figures in your organisation if you haven’t got a clear list of agenda items, as well as a strategic means of implementing solutions, and measuring the effectiveness of the policies implemented to fix a problem. If you spend time in your organisation fine-tuning the effectiveness of your meetings, and improve your skills at separating important issues from trivial occurrences in your organisation, your organisation will be able to move into the future with more confidence, and in a more streamlined manner.

The most common occurrence in this context is an organisation struggling to both identify the problem, and wasting time in the problem solving process… they’re also not effective in terms of measuring how effective policies were in addressing the problem in the first place.

On the subject of staff, there’s something worth mentioning here about empowering every member of your staff, ensuring they have all the necessary training to do their job, as well as the potential for further training down the line. The psychological benefits of having your staff frequently updating their skills is that, number one, they’ll be responsive to the fact you’ve encouraged them to do more training and this will more than likely be paid back to the organisation in the form of heightened productivity and efficiency at work.

Finally, and arguably one of the best ways to maintain your organisation stays streamlined is to implement a management system that is working in parallel with your organisation’s goals, which will help you respond to challenges presented by a dynamic market, as well as give your employees the direction they need to reach the goals set by the management team. More specifically, that management team will be more purposeful in their decision making when there is a quality management system already implemented, as they’ll be better prepared to dictate roles and responsibilities for pressing issues in the organisation.

If you’d like any help or advice, I’m contactable via LinkedIn, and would love to hear from you.

As always, thanks for your time, and I’ll see you in the next piece.

Kobi Simmat.

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