The missing structure between strategy and operations

The missing structure between strategy and operations

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I write often about the four parts of any business, which I call the 4Ps: purpose, planning, people, and processes. 

Purpose + planning = the strategy of your business, that is, what you’re setting out to do and how you’re going to do it.

People + process = the operations of your business, that is, actually doing what you’ve set out to do. 

So why does the doing of what you’ve set out to do so often not result in achieving what you’ve set out to do?

In other words, even though your people are working hard and following whatever processes you have in place (for the most part), why does the output of that work and those processes not produce the results that your strategy envisioned as quickly as intended—if at all?

The answer is that most businesses are missing a structure that ties together, on a day-to-day basis, the strategy and operations of the business. 

The structure that they are missing involves three things:

  1. Aligning the 4Ps of the business. If you have a recurring problem in your business, more often than not it is caused by a misalignment somewhere. If you don’t have your purpose, planning, people, and processes aligned—if your day-to-day operations don’t align with your high-level strategy—then problems will persist, and this will make it much more difficult to achieve your objectives. If your 4Ps aren’t aligned then they actually are working against each other. Success in business is hard enough to achieve in the best of times; don’t add additional layers of difficulty in the form of misalignments in your business. The degree to which you define and align the purpose, planning, people, and processes in your business is the degree to which your business will be profitable, impactful, and enjoyable.
  2. Weekly, data-driven accountability. Jerry Seinfeld used to joke about how great it was not to be responsible for anything. He would say, the first thing anybody asks when things go wrong is “who’s responsible for this?”, so why would anyone ever want to be responsible for anything? While Jerry is always good for a laugh, if you want results in your business, you can’t adopt the Seinfeld mentality. Your people must be held accountable to achieve the goals and objectives set out in the planning part of your business. Each goal or building block in your business needs to be assigned to one person and one person only—and they are responsible for achieving it. But in order to set that person up for success, you need to build weekly, data-driven accountability into your business. You do this by implementing a weekly meeting cadence that looks at your key data (which are derived from your goals), and the progress of your goals and building blocks. Doing this weekly, rather than monthly or quarterly, exponentially increases your chances of success. Problems are identified and corrected early on, so that you don’t end up in a quarterly review only to find out none of your business goals were achieved and no idea as to why. 
  3. Discipline. Alignment and accountability aren’t sexy. They aren’t shiny. They aren’t the newest or next big thing in business. While these business concepts have been around for decades and have been proven to work time and time again, they don’t make for the most exciting stories at cocktail parties. As a result, they are easy to overlook. They often get pushed aside when putting out the fires of your everyday operations. So you need the discipline to constantly evaluate the level of alignment and accountability in your business. The best way to do this is to systematize them so that they are sewn into the fabric of your business.  

So why is this structure missing from so many businesses? It’s because most entrepreneurs and business owners are visionaries, idea generators, and big picture people. That’s their DNA. They are not, generally, details people. Alignment, accountability, and discipline are key details that help propel entrepreneurs and their ideas forward—but often these things don’t come naturally to them.

That’s why I love working with business owners to systematize these key details into the structure and culture of their business. It’s what I do best, and doing so allows  business owners to focus more of their time on what they do best. This combination helps the business get results faster and more efficiently than otherwise would have been possible. In other words, when the structure is no longer missing, good things happen.