I have participated in over 50 consulting projects. The companies I worked with were mainly small and medium – the largest of them had revenues of PLN 80 million. Based on this experience I can tell you that companies don’t grow not because they don’t know something. They don’t grow because they don’t do things, although they know that they should. The vast majority of answers that could unlock your business are within reach of people who ask themselves questions. On this or that blog. In books. In a presentation at a conference or podcast. In Casbeg. The problem is that hardly anyone asks these questions. Even fewer people find answers – and there is really hardly anyone doing anything with them.
Don’t say “I don’t have time”
Companies grow based on what is important but not urgent. The offer you have not refreshed for 2 years won’t call and won’t ask you to take care of it. A company podcast that you have wanted to set up for 2 years won’t do it alone. Same as that Google Ads campaign that someone was supposed to take care of and set up 3 months ago. Because it is exactly like that, the results of our research using the mystery shopping method cause such strong jaw drops of the management – negligence is simply much greater than it may seem.
Of course it’s not like people in companies don’t know any of those things. They know all of it perfectly well, but they think they don’t have time to take care of it. In practice, however, “I don’t have time” is a synonym for “this is not a priority for me”. Because we all have the same amount of time and priorities with different weight. If the thing that “you don’t have time for” were higher up in the priorities, you would probably find time for it. Because of this phenomenon in Casbeg, nobody tells me that he didn’t have time to do something. You should also prohibit the use of this phrase in your company.
Taking care of processes
Your people would have more time if not for the fact that they have to put out fires every now and then that result from a lack of processes or loose screws here and there. Since the vast majority of companies are founded by people who can’t stand processes, most companies resemble manufactures that make tailor-made suits. In such a company, each project is unique and escapes standardization, so it must be supported by a virtuoso – at least a very experienced craftsman. Remember that company that scaled up to $100 million in revenue by tailoring suits? Me neither. This company does not exist.
It’s impossible to build large organizations on virtuosos – because there are never enough of them. For this reason, if we have the ambition to create large organizations, we must employ and train craftsmen and make peace with processes that are there to support them and prevent the fires. That’s why one of the first Casbeg employees was the best specialist in the field of processes I know. Naturally, I still have a huge appetite for employing virtuosos and I intend to catch from the market as many as I can. In practice, however, most of the people I will employ will be good craftsmen, whom we will steadily educate in their crafts.
Systematic elimination of fires
At the beginning of the 20th century, 25 percent of people who began to learn to fly, did not survive till the end of the course – so dangerous it was then to fly. At the beginning of the 21st century, flying is the safest form of travel in the world. This change took place because the airmen developed an excellent system of learning from failures. If you were to introduce an obligation to address errors in a systematic way in your company – in such a way that the error could never be repeated again, people would probably make fewer mistakes in time. At least they would not make the same ones over and over again. And people would have more time to deal with what is not urgent – but is important.
Identify company’s priorities
Write on your laptop what is the most important priority of your company for this quarter. Then ask a random co-worker what he thinks is the most important priority for this quarter. Are your answers to this question the same? If not – you probably have to do a better job with communication. Do this experiment and write me an email at [email protected] with your conclusions from the results. In a world with no clear priorities, it is impossible to distinguish between important and unimportant matters.
Hiring more people
There is a huge chance that your people are overloaded with the number of tasks. So you have two options. The first is to reduce your ambitions to level them with what the current organization is able to implement. The second is to hire more people. Of course, they shouldn’t be random – I mean people who can put things into motion. It costs, of course, but companies rarely grow and give dividend at the same time, right?
We tell our people to focus on priorities, and at the same time we don’t have time to read a book in peace. We still clean our flats ourselves, although we know very well that we should have just hired a cleaning lady a long time ago. We still consider having an assistant as an unnecessary luxury – instead of seeing it as a critical part of the infrastructure that improves our productivity.
Your company is not growing because your people don’t know what should be done to start growing. Your company is not growing because you don’t do what you know you should be doing.