- Posted by J. Nirdosh Reddy
- On February 25, 2017
- Management Ideas
If you are a member of the top management of an organization, especially a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME), it is an understatement to say that you carry an enormous burden to keep it going. Your days are packed with issues of all kinds.
Where is your time going?
Given this situation, when I ask this group as to how much time they spend on planning for the future, they smile and say: “I am already spending 120% of normal working time on the day-to-day issues. Where is time to think about the future?”
What is the split of your time between routine activities, fire-fighting and improvement activities? Typical responses from senior managers in SME segment are:
- Routine activities ~ 30 to 50%
- Fire-fighting ~ 50 to 70%
- Improvement activities ~ 5 to 10%
Creating our future – If we don’t take the time to create our future, who will?
- Our competitors, or
- Winds of change
And what kind of future will it be?
- If it is left to our competitors – the future won’t be what we like
- If it is created by winds of change – the future would be unpredictable; decided by the direction of change – either headwinds or tailwinds
Dr. W. Edwards Deming, whose teachings spawned TQM, Lean, Six Sigma and BPM methodologies, states, in 1st of his 14 obligations of the top management:
Imagine that your objective is to stay in business for the next 50 years. How do you achieve it?
- By becoming (and remaining) competitive. How do we achieve this?
- By improving the products and services we provide. How do we achieve this?
- By constantly improving. How do we achieve this?
- By creating a constancy of purpose toward improvement. Who is to do this?
The top management group needs time to create a constancy of purpose toward improvement, make sure that the products and services are continually improved and are competitive in order to stay in business, but the day-to-day challenges keep them away from what they need to do.
How to make time and create a better future
If you face the above situation, the first thing to do is to free up management from fire-fighting. Adopt ‘Results come from process’ mindset; define your processes and assigning process leaders to manage day-to-day activities. When things go wrong, encourage your process leaders to, first, ask where processes are breaking down, not who did it. Involve your employees in continually improving their processes.
Based on the experience of those who have tried:
- The time spent on routine activities reduces to ~ 20 to 30% (from the earlier 30 to 50%)
- The time spent on fire-fighting reduces to ~ 20 to 30% (from the earlier 50 to 70%)
- The time spent on improvement activities increases to ~ 40 to 60% (from the earlier 5 to 10%)
- You would be more in control of creating a better future for your enterprise
Enjoy the journey!