Heads up for ECM, BPM & BPO software executives by Mark Edwards, CEO - Document Boss
The Importance of Direction & Pace
We have probably all witnessed situations where an individual or organisation procrastinates at such length over a decision that, when they finally do make a decision, many have forgotten the original rationale behind that decision.
Another common scenario I have observed is companies without direction or where that direction or vision is not effectively communicated internally. This can also often cause confusion to outsiders, potential investors, clients and possible buyers.
The Importance of Fast Decision Making
“Great entrepreneurs and business leaders don’t doodle, they do”
Have you ever been frustrated by the length of time it has taken one of your prospective clients to come to a decision in which you are involved? Have you ever then looked inwardly to cast a critical eye over the decision timeframes within your own business? It’s an interesting exercise. Long deliberation in business often serves no purpose - apart from purely delaying the decision. There is no positive purpose.
Firstly, we should just cover the reasons fast decision making is important. Why not take your time in any decisions that you need to make? I think that the concept of taking your time is not so valid sometimes as is delaying the decision. There are occasions when you don’t really have to make a decision “right now”. If you are undecided, delaying the decision until you have maybe progressed further or have more accurate data available could be a valid strategy.
Delaying or Procrastinating?
You need to ask yourself, are you genuinely delaying the decision until a time when you will be in a better position to make that decision or, are you merely procrastinating? Sometimes time can give you a new viewpoint or a better informed or advantageous perspective from which to make a decision. However, this is not really making a slow decision rather, it is simply delaying the decision until perhaps you have additional data and therefore, a better perspective following more progress. I always think of it like travelling on a long journey in which you know you have to cross a ravine in an area where you have never been before. You could sit and make plans and decide how you are going to cross the ravine before you set out on your journey or you could wait until you get there and make a decision once you are able to survey the area.
The question here is what are the disadvantages of being slow to make business decisions. This is probably a fault more often seen in the highly analytical, introverted personality types that don’t naturally make fast decisions; probably not a category that the likes of Richard Branson would fall into. He is known for making fast decisions based on years of experience - An advantage of getting older - So the passing years are not all bad news : )
You Don’t Have To Be Right 100% of the Time
While it’s important to be analytical in your decision making, it’s also important to act when opportunities arise. The best entrepreneurs have a common bias towards making quick decisions. They will accept that 70% of their decisions will be right and a percentage will be bad but they understand the need to maintain pace and gather momentum, which is not achieved by endless pontification. Entrepreneurs will also accept that they will simply have to recover from any bad decisions - And they will.
Internal Communication of a Vision
Giving direction or a vision is important for all organisations, no matter how small or large. You may or may not be surprised that, in the M&A process, we encounter companies where the senior management team has a vision (not always the same vision) yet the staff of the company don’t have a clue as to what that vision is. A clearly communicated vision is unifying and gives direction to the whole organization and, when that vision is consistent, it becomes a point of reference that can help the company gain pace.
Clearly, communicating an aligned vision also ensures that valuable time is used in pursuit of that vision and not in taking the company off in the wrong direction with effort wasted on unrelated tasks. It is also important for everyone in an organisation to understand the role their work plays in attaining short and long-term company goals. According to the Gallup Research Institute, there are 3 categories of employee - A to C, with A's being the Drivers, B's the Doers and C's the Detractors. The three types of employees can be identified as follows: A's work independently and have vision, B's follow instructions, C's tend to slow the others down and generally detract from the work process.
"67% of employees require clearly communicated instructions to perform at their best" - Gallup
To clarify, approximately 16% of employees are A's, 67% are B's and 17% are C's. Those employees who are B's form the majority of staff in most organisations and therefore, it is imperative they receive clear communication as the company's success largely depends upon them understanding the mission and vision of the management team.
At Document Boss, once we engage with a company, it is incredible how often we uncover a variety of conflicting stories from employees, senior executives, the company website and company literature. Sometimes, this is the residue of past goals and visions; sometimes it is simply because the business leaders have not spent the time or have not been effective enough in communicating the unifying vision.
Internal Alignment = Increased Productivity & Pace = Increased Equity
The productivity of your company to attain productivity and profitability can be tracked back to the ability and performance of your employees in working to achieve their individual goals. This in turn relates directly to the ability of business leaders in your company to “Market” their vision and goals to the employees in a way that is easily understood and makes sense. In simplicity there is genius and in most great companies there is a simple, core message, which is used to align. Align the Board and senior management, align the business leaders and all employees, which then in turn creates a less confusing image of the company and makes it easier to buy their services. It also makes the business a more attractive and likely acquisition target.
With clear direction and pace you can achieve more in less time. Top-down alignment, communicated throughout the organisation, will increase everyone’s ability to cover more ground, faster and, at the same time, increase the equity value of your business.