Most businesses don’t wake up asking this question, because we are too busy dealing with yesterday’s problem to notice, care about or focus on today’s problem. What if there was a team focused on only today’s problem?
Log jams alter flow hydraulics by diverting flow towards the bed or banks, increasing flow resistance and upstream pools. This then diverts flow onto the floodplain, damming the channel and causing water to spill over the structure. This is the effects of log jams on river geomorphology according to Wikipedia, however it sounds an awful lot like the work flows of many companies.
The river is like all the work that needs to get done, and the banks of the river are our capacity to do the work: A big rain occurs (like the holiday season, a big PR hit, an employee leaves, perfect product/market fit), we max out our capacity and suddenly logs (unexpected problems) come flying down the river, jamming up any choke point.
If the big rain is temporary, we might be able to deal with the overflow by working harder and longer, disappointing some customers for a short period of time but not so many and so badly that we damage our reputation. The problem with this path is the rains will come again. Do we really want to take the risk of damaging our reputation and relationship with our customers?
If the big rain is seasonal or the sign of the new normal, we can scramble to hire more people to manage the increased flow of the river – throw people at the problem. The issue with this is that builders and managers are two different types of people: one solves problems and the other keeps those now-solved-problems from occurring again. Neither enjoys the other’s job or excels at it. They each trigger different cultures within teams or organizations.
What if there was a team whose only focus was to unclog existing jams, proactively prevent future jams and work to sculpt the river for optimal health and flow. This team would be:
- An eclectic mix of individuals, each with specific skill sets and compatible mindsets
- Free from day-to-day responsibility of running the business
- Able to move quickly from log jam to log jam (or dive deep, if required)
- Empowered to hire outside resources like developers, creatives or other tactical specialists
- Capable of gaining a 360-degree view of issues and their impact on the business
- Skilled at designing 360-degree solutions for the business
- Reporting only to the leadership team, free from interpersonal or cross-functional drama
What if your organization had its own special forces team (internal or outsourced) so that it was able to solve your most pressing challenges without diverting existing resources from the task at hand?
Could you make more progress faster?
Could you increase employee satisfaction and therefore customer satisfaction?
Could it pay for itself or better yet be a profit multiplier?
Could you change your culture into a problem-solving organism?
Could you, the leader, founder, change-maker, be more effective by day and sleep at night?
In these dynamic and unpredictable times, it’s business execution that will determine winners.