GAPS exist in businesses, hurting desired business performance. They are dysfunctions or the absence of a resource, skill, or capability. They can also be a process or procedure that restricts a desired outcome. Some GAPS are short-lived; others can be pervasive and greatly restrain business growth.
To eliminate or mitigate performance-robbing GAPS, be curious. Awareness can spur the quick resolution of a GAP constraining business growth. We can help you WORX on them … to bridge to a better tomorrow.
Countless conversations in executive offices and around conference tables in small and large businesses seek to better understand and quickly resolve problems, ultimately to improve performance. Maybe it is sparked with a concerning trend, a customer or employee complaint, or just a little curiosity. I call it a “What If Moment.”
However the process of change starts, it is central to improving employee engagement, targeted business outcomes, and numerous financial metrics.
In a business setting, discovery is the process of gathering relevant facts to increase awareness of existing structural, behavioral and/or market challenges that are or would impede the attainment of a given business goal or objective. Essentially, by increasing awareness a path forward is discovered.
Sometimes business challenges are quickly understood and placed in the rear view mirror. Sometimes the challenges are more complex, or the requisite talents, experiences, and other resources necessary to solve the problem are not available given the volume of routine business activities. Today, many businesses run lean.
In the more complex scenario, many business owners outsource change management projects to more fully understand the specific challenge and either resolve it or receive a road map for the company to marshal efforts to accomplish a given goal or objective.
Understanding “where you are today” (Present State) is especially foundational for external consultants to solve problems and move a client’s performance to “where you want to go,” a desired Future State. This understanding or discovery can happen really fast, but don’t cut it short. In almost every endeavor, how you prepare signals the quality of the outcome you seek.
You might decide to remodel your home, but carpenters, painters, and all contractors take measurements and prepare surfaces to be revitalized. It is the same with a wide variety of change management projects – be sure to fully understand first – before you make change happen.
You have a brilliant idea, rough out your vision, file organizational documents, set up a checking account and all the rest. In a matter of a few days, your business is already unique. Over months or years, with perseverance and many struggles, it takes off. You land more clients, hire employees, create physical and financial assets, and business activities are increasingly complex.
Your original north star vision may
be the same or it has changed, but your business has grown. Your needs are
different. Maybe you recognize internal challenges and market opportunities not
being met. Maybe the last two quarters were sub-par on revenue and/or
profitability, or a key client or two is looking at your competition. You know
that your top line indicators and bottom-line metrics could be much better.
So, what to do next? Maybe you step
back and ask the same questions you posed as you started the business.
What? Your product/service/value proposition.
Who? Your target clients. Your competition. Your vendor
Where? Defining your geographic market. Your resources to
fulfill promises made.
When? When can you achieve the next objective, and the next?
As your business matures, two other
questions become more pressing.
Why are you doing this? Maybe you have bigger goals looming
around the corner.
And, maybe most importantly, HOW?
At critical junctures in business, taking a critical look at your team’s leadership, strategies, culture, processes, capabilities, and behaviors is a good first step. Then apply the same critical look at your market and target customers. Those answers may frame new possibilities.
Many business executives have a core understanding of the cause and effect relationships that determine business value. However, the standard “score keeping” of financial reporting typically fail to itemize employee behaviors, and their social and emotional competencies, which impact their roles, responsibilities, thinking, decision making and customer-facing outcomes.
Businesses should also identify and measure the “softer skills” of workplace behaviors. They massively leverage desired improvements in financial performance.
The present value of a company is increased or diminished based upon the total effect of employee behaviors on the business. Optimizing financial value requires soft skills training to improve employee performance. But what are those different actions, and how does a company put them into play?
Business success requires awareness and the willingness to adapt, to change. Companies want to improve, but frequently that’s not budgeted. The daily challenges take priority. So change waits.
Companies want to be positive and action oriented, but research in psychology and neuroscience indicates that people often don’t change as they are not consciously aware of what needs to be changed. Awareness doesn’t need to be time-consuming or expensive, especially in smaller businesses. It is about constantly being curious.
Periodically evaluate key customer-facing processes and practices. Management tends to focus on What, Where and Who, and that is appropriate. But, consider asking Why and How focusing on soft skills and customer-facing processes. Different answers will come to the fore, resulting in small refinements that can generate large performance gains. Don’t put off fundamental change … to a distant tomorrow.
Creating business value is a journey of many small steps. Take the first step. We can help.