As I discussed in my prior post about the kink in your organization, the first step in overcoming the key issues holding your organization back is to find and diagnose your biggest constraint.
But that's still only half the battle. Now it's time to get to work to fix that constraint by eliminating the kink in the hose - the therapeutic phase.
And to do that, you need to first make the commitment to make the time necessary to get the work done. What I've found in working with thousands of CEOs over the years is that they allow themselves to be overwhelmed with tasks that have nothing to do with eliminating their organization's biggest constraint and work 80 hours a week with limited impact. The best CEOs, on the other hand, have learned a key lesson: how to say NO, which is something I've written about before.
The key point is that you need to be spending at least half of your time attacking your organizational constraint - which means about 20 hours a week for the average CEO.
Once you've got your priorities straight, then it's time to sort out what kind of category your constraint falls into as a way to understand what role you need to play to solve it.
If you have a business model problem, which might necessitate a redesign of your business, then you need to start thinking like an Architect. This means changing your offer, your target clients or perhaps your pricing.
If your problem is related to the talent level or engagement of your people, then you'll need to act like a Coach. A Coach is thoughtful about who on the team Is doing great, who needs help and who needs to be on another team. Sometimes, acquisition of an A player in a key role can make all the difference.
The third category would be if you need to implement process or system changes in your organization, a shift that will require to think and act like an Engineer. While the systems we use to run our businesses seems a little boring, they are the source of repeatable high performance in sales, operations, customer care and supporting processes. Smart CEOs embrace the systems as the solution to a better business.
Of course, most entrepreneurs are tempted to jump into what I call Player mode to personally unkink the issues their business. But thinking and acting like a Player is only valuable when you are diagnosing your constraint. Once it's time to fix it, as a CEO, you need to be working at building up organizational muscle that results in a sustainable and permanent solution to the problem. Otherwise, if you do the work yourself, you will have inherited a new job - which will in turn prevent you from making the necessary time to attack the organization's next constraint.
When a CEO acts as an Architect, Coach or Engineer, on the other hand, you are increasing your organization's ability to execute because you aren't making yourself into the point of constraint where nothing can be done without your involvement. In other words, the role you take is about working on the business rather than working in the business.
Let me share an example that involves a friend of mine who owns a historic restaurant in Maryland, located in the historic home.
While the restaurant has been around for a while, it was originally the home of a locally famous sea captain and founder of the small town, my friend had seen the business struggle in recent years. While he had a good chef in place, he eventually diagnosed that his key constraint was that the customer experience in the front of the house was lacking. People weren't coming back to dine or, worse, recommending it to their friends.
Once my friend diagnosed his problem, he decided that he needed to think like an Engineer to begin fixing it. His solution was to create a new system where everyone involved in a customer-facing role was given a script and a mission to deliver a new service standard based on the idea that every customer who entered the restaurant should be treated like they were visiting someone's home - the sea captain's home. That meant every server was expected to know the history of the home and should also be prepared to engage with customers at a premium level to make them feel right at home. He basically, stole a page from Disney!
Once those changes were put in place, customer feedback began to soar. But not every server embraced the new system - or the new period-style uniforms they were asked to wear. That meant that my friend now took to the role of a Coach, where he began to assess which of his people were truly on board with the new system - and who wasn't. In some cases, my friend was forced to let people go because they weren't willing to adapt to the new system. But that also gave him the chance to hire new people who bought into it - which only helped boost customer satisfaction scores.
Finally, my friend saw an opportunity to change his business model. He had historically served everything a la carte, where every customer chose what he or she wanted to eat off the menu. But, by thinking like an Architect, he developed a price fixe menu, which he called the Captain's Menu, which is something you would encounter if you were actually visiting someone's home for a meal. The chef's would have the latitude to express their creativity by coming up with a constantly changing menu that featured fresh and local ingredients while customers welcomed the simplicity of the menu. At the same time, this made things even easier for the servers to deliver an exceptional experience. In other words, everyone benefited from the shift in the business.
What was interesting is he faced the one kink in the hose, poor customer experience, and used all three hats to create his solution. When those changes were all added up, my friend's restaurant took off in every way possible - all because he understood the value in working on his business instead of in it by attacking the biggest constraint he faced. Of course, every business is dynamic and the challenges will continue to evolve. But now my friend is well equipped to deal with them as they come along as I hope you will too.
Jim is the author of the best-selling book, "Great CEOs Are Lazy" - grab your copy to today on Amazon!