As I see it, there are basically two structures missing;
- Structure for improvement, which I wrote about in last week’s newsletter, and
- structure for the new business that is being built with the help of the improvement work.
Here I describe the latter.
Structure of the business
What you build in your business when you work on improvement is not just a few small details here and there. No, it’s actually a whole to a new radically improved business.
Sure, you can make small adjustments here and there to improve a particular area, but that won’t help your business as a whole meet future challenges. To meet the challenges, you need to improve in a fundamental way.
Then you need to work towards a whole new structure. A structure based on your value-creating flows. Because only when you see how the whole picture fits together can you set the right priorities and then methodically work your way forward.
Everything is connected
Your business and its interconnected processes are like a web. In a net, for example a fishing net, there are lots of knots, which are connected to a lot of other knots. Think of every node as a process in your business.
When you start to improve a process and lift it, others are forced to follow. And if they don’t, it holds back progress with the first process.
This can be difficult, as it forces you to continue the improvement work once you have started. At least if you really want to improve and develop. It’s like what you started out thinking was a limited job has suddenly grown and become so much bigger.
But at the same time, that’s the strength of seeing the big picture. By looking at it, you’ll get a clear picture of what you need to work on to improve as a business as a whole.
If you don’t see the whole picture and therefore don’t understand the relationships between processes, you’ll just find that you don’t get it together. It will just be heavy and slow work, and what you develop will not give you the benefit and impact you hoped for.
Both small and large
When you work on your improvement work, you need to work on the details as well as the big picture.
Seeing that the small is connected to the whole is essential. Your business is like a book. A book is a whole that delivers value, from start to finish. We call it the story.
For it to be a book, we need to build it from the smallest element, in several steps, so that in the end it becomes that best-selling book people “just have to” read, and will talk about.
The book is built from letters, which form words, which in turn are put together to form sentences. The sentences form paragraphs, which in turn are tied together in chapters to give the story a structure. All chapters then form the whole book. Your bestseller.
As a writer, I can relate the work of writing books to the work of improving a business. It’s an iterative process, where we work on both the big picture and the details at the same time.
One moment you’re down to the details of a piece, while at other times, you’re looking at the big picture again. You might split one chapter into two, or merge two others. You are writing drafts of some chapters, while you may have finished the end of the book almost completely. Or maybe the beginning of the story.
New ideas are born all the time, giving the whole story new needs for sentences, paragraphs, or chapters.
The book → Activities
In your business, you need to be prepared to work with your processes and their activities, and then shape it overall to your business.
The analogy with the book, is that:
- The book is like your whole business.
- The chapters are like your processes.
- The paragraphs within the chapters are like sub-processes.
- The sentences are also sub-processes, but at a lower level.
- The words are your activities.
Everything is connected and forms a whole.
You need to see this structure in order to drive your improvement work forward and to make a real impact.
So what does a good business structure look like? I was going to write more about that in the next newsletter. There I describe what is the right structure and what is the wrong structure.
Until then, I wish you a great week.