What company doesn’t want to have lean, waste-free processes? Do you think your company maximizes its resources and functions at peak productivity? Maybe you do. But you may not suspect there are “black holes” in your company’s processes that consume its most valuable resources: time, money, and talent. These black holes are hard to detect because they are cloaked by essential activities – things that you, your employees, and your fellow leaders do every day.
Scott Edinger, expert leadership speaker and co-author of The Inspiring Leader, identifies these resource-wasting black holes in a recent episode of The Better Life/Better Business Podcast. He also shows you what you can do to stop wasting resources and to start saving millions, if not billions, of dollars.
Here are the 3 black holes that consume your resources and ways to fix them:
Resource Black Hole #1: Meetings
“There are a few predictable squandering points in organizations that are resource black holes,” Scott said. At the top of his list: meetings.
It’s no secret that employees spend a lot of time in meetings. Why do meetings consume so much time? For one thing, there’s often a lack of clarity about the purpose of the meeting. Further complicating matters is the fact that participants often bring their own agendas to the table. “It’s rare that you truly need a meeting with six, eight, 10 people,” Scott said.
“Most of the time, if you can get clear on what you’re trying to accomplish and determine who really needs to be involved (outside of political agendas and self-interest),” Scott advised, “you can save a lot of time in meetings.”
Resource Black Hole #2: Performance Appraisals
The second resource black hole Scott highlighted is the performance appraisal process.
“Before I get all the HR folks angry with me,” Scott said, “this is not to say that focusing on the performance of individuals is not valuable.”
Of course, it’s important to appraise and improve the performance of your people. The problem is with the process, which in most companies is very administrative, bureaucratic and far too over-engineered, according to Scott’s research. Too often, there’s no coaching and mentoring for the employee outside the appraisal meeting, and if that only happens once or twice a year, it’s just not enough to make course corrections.
“[When the appraisal is] done properly, employees are frequently getting coached and developed and having their performance monitored,” Scott said.
After all, the outcome you’re ultimately aiming for is performance improvement. As a business leader, ask yourself and others: Is our process achieving that goal and enhancing our culture?
Resource Black Hole #3: Strategic Planning
How can an activity as fundamentally important as strategic planning be called a resource black hole?
“Too often,” Scott noted, “there’s an inordinate amount of time and effort and money and energy that goes into the production of nice PowerPoint slides and binders full of spreadsheets that have little to do with the actual strategy.”
The process of formulating and implementing strategy can be much leaner for most companies, and the solution, Scott says, is simple: “Get precise about what your strategic objective is, the scope of that objective, and how you intend to win. That is singular.”
In contrast, Scott has found that the majority of businesses have multiple objectives, and multiple objectives often mean competing objectives.
“In strategy,” he said, “less is more.”
Bottom Line: One Question Will Save Your Company Millions
Thanks to Scott, you now know three of the most expensive and time-consuming everyday activities that are likely draining your company’s resources. You also know how to turn these black holes into efficiency vehicles.
The list is not exhaustive, though. The biggest resource black hole at your company may not even be on this list. So, how can you spot it?
There is one question that will save your company millions:
“What is the business issue we’re trying to solve or address?”
“Ask this one single question when considering any activity or initiative,” Scott said, “and I promise it will save [you] millions – if not billions.”
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