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Thursday
Jan022014

You Probably Have a System, Even When You Think You Don't

One of the problems that many successful business owners share with me is the fact that they are busier than ever and yet they are not getting the equivalent results in return for their increased efforts. 

They are working harder, smarter and better, they say, than ever before and yet their results - revenues, sales, profitability, productivity and the like- are either the same or have not increased proportionately in relationship to the efforts that are put into the business. 

When they ask me what the solution could be, I sometimes ask them a question. I ask them what their system is like. Their response often is that they don’t have a system. Or that they do have systems but only in certain area of the business and not in others or that their systems are not yet fully developed. 

At that point, I often tell them: You probably have a system even when you think you don’t, especially when you don’t think you have them. It’s just that the systems that you do have are not producing the results you hope.

I always get a quizzical look in return so I give them an example.

Think about something that you repeatedly do. For example, let’s take a mundane activity we all perform - or should perform - at least once a day: brushing our teeth. 

If you made a video of you brushing your teeth for the next 30 days and watched it, you will notice a pattern. Perhaps it’s whether you pick up the tooth brush first or the tooth paste. Perhaps it’s how you squeeze the tooth paste out of the tube: from the top, bottom or middle. Perhaps it’s whether you put the cap back on after you use it or leave it on the counter-top for your spouse to clean it. Perhaps it’s the way you clean up the counter after you are done. 

That pattern you notice is your “system” for brushing teeth. Why do you use that particular system? Because it works for you and makes you effective at doing an activity you must do every day. 

Why is it important to look at this idea of a system? Because systems - activities performed consistently - produce results. If we don’t like the results we get, something must change in that system. 

Back to the example of brushing teeth. If my teeth aren’t white enough, I must do something differently in the way that I brush my teeth to get a different result: whiter teeth. May be I need to change the tooth brush or the tooth paste. Perhaps I need to add a new component into the system, flossing for example. And when I run out of options available to me in improving my system, I may have to see an expert, a dentist in this example. 

Think about a specific area of your business where the results you are getting are not satisfactory. Perhaps your sales revenues are not where you would like them to be. May be your product quality is not the standard that’s satisfactory to you or your clients. May be your client satisfaction has waned a bit and you would like to bring it up to a higher level. Or your expenses are out of control and your cash flow isn’t what you think it should be. 

In all of these cases, if you examined your system - the repeated things your people do on a consistent basis - you will most likely find the cause of that lack in performance. And once you find the cause of the problem, the solution can’t be that far behind, even in the rare circumstance that you need an outside help. 

One of the things we do at Awayre, LLC is to help you examine and document your important systems with the intention of helping you figure out if it’s bringing you the results you want. In most cases, we also give you ideas, strategies and recommendations to help you improve your system and what it would take to bring about that improvement. 

Ultimately, we like to move to the idea of Unsystem which is when the system is mastered so well that we forget that we even have a system. In other words, the system becomes so second-nature that it becomes a habit and the work become effortless. 

The system that you had but didn’t know you had is the Unintentional System. When we examine the system, fix its flaws and put in place a new system, it’s the Intentional System. When that new system becomes a habit so that much of the work becomes unconscious and effortless, once again we have a system that we don’t think we have but this time with a difference: It produces better results. 

Do you know how action oriented your business is compared to, say, being strategic? Take Business Health Check. It’s free and comes with a Strategy Handbook to look at your business in a way you may have never done before. Click here to get started. 

Copyright 2014 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.

Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.
Thursday
Dec192013

What Wikipedia Won't Tell You About Professional Development

Because a business is made of people, ultimately the only way to grow a business is through people.

You must have noticed it already, however: People don’t change much. Over time? May be a little. But for the most part, people stay the same, more or less, throughout their lifetimes. Billions of dollars are spent every month around the world in the hopes that our people will go from low performing laggards to high performing super-stars. And yet we are disappointed time and again in how little they change their ways.

Why don’t people change? Because they really don’t want to change. Deep down inside, people have a huge - and I mean HUGE - fear of changing.

Sure, they want to collect new information, update their memory banks with new stuff, often get new certifications and college degrees and even pick up some new skills from time to time. But that’s not change. It’s actually not even growth.

Real growth comes from the inside out. True learning consists of lasting change that forms new behaviors, new values and new habits. As I often like to say, true learning is a journey from the head to the heart, from the heart to the gut and from the gut to the actions.

Why do people fear change from the inside out? Because familiarity breeds comfort and safety. They feel safe in their existing conditions, circumstances, beliefs and thought-patterns and fight tooth-and-nail when they are challenged.

True learning is about challenging what is assumed to be known and moving into unknown possibilities. But it requires letting go of the old, and that is scary for most people.

If you want to create a learning culture - a true learning culture - in your business, it’s not enough that you spend a lot of time and money sending people to professional development seminars. You must also cultivate a true, inside-out learning culture so that learning is not just an occasional event but something that’s deeply imbedded within the daily activities of your organization.

How do you cultivate a true learning culture? There are three important strategies in cultivating a true learning environment.

1. Hire the Right People

Hire people who are conducive to change in the first place. Granted, some people are hard-wired against change and often they are some of the best employees. With such employees, you may have to dial back your “change” expectations a little. However, with such people, it will be even more important that you hire the right people for the positions they fill.

A good way to find out people’s openness and approach to true learning is to assess their learning tendencies before you hire them, ideally before you even interview them. At Awayre, LLC, we have found that hiring right is the most important thing an organization can ever engage in. For this reason, we combine data from multiple sources of assessment solutions to determine people’s learning capacity and tendencies.

2. Make it a part of your up-front and regular conversation

Talk to them regularly about what’s expected from them, and what they can expect from you, as it relates to learning and growth. Let them know that learning and change that comes from the inside out is very important to you as a business. Ask them about some of their learning strategies. Also discuss with them what you have discovered about their learning strategies that they may not be aware of. Make sure that you allow them to explore these learning opportunities in their daily work. Review the subject every time you meet with that person one-on-one in your weekly or monthly meetings.

3. Be an example of someone who is willing to be vulnerable

Learning inherently involves being vulnerable at our core. Most leaders and managers are afraid of an inside-out change themselves. They especially avoid putting themselves in the position where they may be perceived as vulnerable or weak. When people see that you have the humility and the strength to be vulnerable, especially in front of other people, their respect and affection for you increases and sends them the message that it’s “ok” to be vulnerable, to not know something and to be humble.

But the best thing you can do to cultivate a learning culture is to instill the right set of beliefs about learning. In my work, I have identified 7 specific misconceptions that get in the way of true learning. Click here for “Beliefs about Teaching and Learning: 7 Barriers to Professional Growth and Development.”

It’s important to spend time, money and effort in developing our people. But it’s even more important to do it in a way that gets the right results for both our business and our people. When we approach professional development with this renewed mindset, the rewards prove worth the effort. When its people are exposed to and engaged with their core, a business becomes an unstoppable movement that could produce incredible results for all its stakeholders.

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.


Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.

Wednesday
Dec112013

Is Your Business Being Managed or Led?

There are two basic skills required in building and running a business: leadership and management. If a business has strong leadership but weak management, it will be strategic, big-picture and people oriented. If it has strong management but weak leadership, it will be tactical, practical and task-oriented.

The opposite is also true. If a business has a weak leadership, it will get caught up in the daily grind of activities and lose sight of the big picture. If it has a weak management, it will get caught up in big-thinking and won’t be able to carry out the daily actions that all businesses require to succeed and thrive.

What kind of a business are you? Obviously, most businesses probably fall in between two the extremes of the spectrum. But pondering the question allows you to think about the traits and qualities of management and leadership. Once you have a firm grasp on those traits and qualities, you can pinpoint leadership gaps in your business and do what you need to do to develop the missing qualities.

Are you a leader or a manager? Take this free 5 minute assessment and find out. What’s more? The tone of a business is set by those who run the business. In most mid-size organizations up to a few hundred employees, this person is also the founder or the owner. So for the sake of the business’ success, it’s imperative that the people at the top have a firm grasp of the leadership and management qualities they possess.

It’s rare for one person to have both leadership and management skills. Most of the time, a person is one or the other. Unfortunately, most people see this as a deficiency that needs to be “fixed.” There is certainly value in recognizing one’s weaknesses and strengths, both as a leader and a manager. But in my experience, a better alternative to “developing” the required skills is to find or bring-in those qualities in people around you.

In other words, it’s easier to find leadership and management traits and nurture them than trying to “develop” them where they don’t exist in the first place. It’s not an accident that most successful businesses have at least two people in their leadership teams that complement each other. Apple had Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Disney had Walt Disney and Roy Disney. Microsoft had Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer. Berkshire Hathaway has Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.

The best place to start, perhaps, is find out where you stand. Are you predisposed to being a leader or a manager? Knowing yourself first allows you to get to learn what exactly these functions mean from a more visceral, experiential perspective. With this knowledge, you can then go about making sure that the required management and leadership qualities exist in your business.

I have developed a quick test that helps you figure out whether you are predominantly a leader or a manager. It takes about 5 minutes, is free and compares traits, characteristics and qualities of leaders and managers. Click here to take this test.

Want to find out how your Leadership and Management function stacks up against all the other functions in your business? Take Business Health Check, AQ by Awayre, LLC. It’s free too and comes with a 24-page Strategy Handbook to analyze your business from a totally different perspective than what you may have been accustomed to. Click here to get started. 

Copyright 2013 Bhavesh Naik. All rights reserved.


Bhavesh Naik is the Founder and Creative Director of Awayre, LLC, a management consulting and human resource development firm specializing in activating the hidden power of a business process by engaging its people’s awareness. Awayre, LLC is a pioneer in bringing human awareness to the field of management and human resource development as its structural and fundamental component.