A SIMPLE WAY TO TELL IF YOUR BUSINESS IS ON THE RIGHT TRACK (OR IF A TRAIN IS HEADED TOWARD YOU).
Do you want a quick way to learn if your business is healthy or not?
Sure you do.
Here it is.
Ask everyone you work with:
“ What is our company’s business strategy?”
Or, choose any current major project and ask everyone involved:
“What are the specific goals of this project?”
Or, ask all:
“Where do we, as a company, want to be in five years?”
In fact: ask everyone ALL of those questions.
If the answers are identical, or close to it: congratulations, your organization is doing well.
If the answers vary (and in more cases than not they will), you have some serious work to do.
Fortunately, there is a simple reason why individuals within the same business structure do not share a common set of expectations, objectives, and targeted results.
Nothing is written down.
Think about that. We live in an age where critical and complex issues are discussed in the context of of 140 – 280 character tweets — when texts and emails routinely create communications so vague that they demand repeated explanations and frequently convey unintended messages — when it is difficult to find persons who can write clear, easy-to-understand instructions for the most simple of activities. If you don’t believe the latter observation, ask a dozen people to write a “user’s manual” describing, in sequence, how to make a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You’ll be surprised (not pleasantly) by how many “educated” business people will not be able to effectively carry out that assignment in concise, accurate, chronological verbiage.
Here’s a reality: unless important business directives are spelled out in black and white, definitive terms — and written down so-as to be shared with all involved –- people will freelance. They will make up their own expectations, their own “key messages” and their own guides to action. The result of that is, at best, a disjointed business organization — and at worst: chaos and failure.
Most of us have heard about the elevator speech. The sense of this is that, in 20 seconds (the approximate time of an elevator trip between floors of a building) every individual within a business should be able to deliver, to an interested listener, EXACTLY the same message about his or her company — whether that is a strategic statement or a key message about a product or service. Only when such critical content is written down in a formalized, clear, and mutually-understood way, can such uniformity of communications be possible.
If your business is not supported by a process of defining and capturing, in written form, the core of your reason for existing, now should be the time to identify professionals, within or from outside your organization, to begin correcting this danger. Achieving this can be surprisingly easy once you see the value in doing so, but to ignore the consequences of assuming that all within your company are “on the same page” risks that the next “page” could be your last.