I once followed a course in the UK on “How to advise Owners of Small Companies”. It was a good course with very nice insights. One of the things they learned there, however, is that specifically a small company improves faster and better when the company management works on many different action domains at the same time.

This is something I have seen coming back many times. Business owners often have a looooot of actions. All on different domains.

When we start with a new client in our one-to-one consulting, they often can show me more than a hundred actions they are currently executing. Sometimes they have to combine a few documents, some Excels and Word or other documents …. And when we sum up all the action points, we often end up way above a hundred.

If I then ask to those good and hard working business owners which three actions (or domains) are the most important, then the business owner becomes most often very silent and indecisive.

It is my experience, in several hundreds of companies however, that focusing on many actions at the same time is notthe most productive way to take your company to the next level. It is very counterproductive.

I have seen so many times that the most productive way to take your company to the next level is to be active on a limited number of actions or action domains, for a certain period. And then to focus on another action or a few actions for a certain period.

Let me give you an example.

One of our clients is a company active in construction (building), their clients are BtB (Business to Business, so businesses as clients) as well as BtC (Business to Consumer). They work with about 25 people.

When I started there, they had a profit, were growing slightly in revenue, and there were so many things to be done, so many actions. The two owners were working very hard to optimize their company, but they had the impression they really didn’t go forward with the company.

When the looked back they were not enthusiastic to see there was almost no progress in the last 12 months.

They were overworked. They always had the feeling they were tired. And they were prepared to work hard, that was not the problem. But they wanted to see that their efforts resulted in a company that became better. And they didn’t see that; sadly enough.

And it was not only the two owners that had this impression. All the employees had the impression they were doing so many things, without really advancing the company. The team even got tired. Sometimes quite negative. Loosing some courage.

We applied our step-by-step programin that company. We also spoke with some clients. Listened to the employees. And after 2 or 3 months they had a very clear vision where they wanted to go to. Together we used our specific insights to do some thinking about all the things they needed to do in the company. We went through all the important domains. And then applied our methodology to determine which actions and which action domains were most important.  It was a good process.

It gave a clear picture of where they wanted to take the company to and what was necessary to get there. It was based on sound management insights, proven methodologies, and the owners knewthey were taking the right decisions. They had been sitting in their ‘helicopter’, above the company, using our selected management models and insights to see what they really had to decide.

They came up with few action domains on which they wanted to focus. And we knew we could not tackle all the actions at the same time. So we divided them into three different periods:

  • In the first three months we focused on these two action domains:
    • The delivery had to be shorter. Clients were very unhappy with this.
      • We should work on a good long term planning
      • Based on that planning, we had to refuse to sell projects if we could not realize the deadline. (That was tough.)
      • And we had to install weekly meetings to determine which projects we would accept and which ones we would not accept. We used different parameters to make this decision: among others the potential of the client (Customer Life Time Value), the fit with the strategy and the Unique Selling Prosposition (=” where do we excel at through the eyes of the potential client”), and the past experiences we had with that client (long term client, a client that paid well, a client that often generated litigations, …)
    • We focused also on getting all the social legislative arrangements to be OK, because this could be dangerous (and very expensive).
  • In the next three months we focused on these three actions:
    • In the factory, we implemented 5S and started to redesign the factory; getting the right advice from a specialized office, making the plans (not yet changing the factory), talking to the employees, exchanging ideas, improving the plan.
    • Optimization of the staff:
      • Since we were growing, we hired extra people to help in different levels in the company: installing, factory, and manager. We included a (very good) secretary (that was somewhat underutilized) in the process, and hired in a different way than before and were successful, even in a difficult job market.
      • We replaced a few people (not as a way of cost cutting, but as a way to improve the team). We based our decision on interesting models, so we had a new view of who we really had to keep and who we better replaced. The owners were a lot more certain about their decisions because of this models.
    • In the next six months we focused on these two action domains:
      • Keep on increasing the sales (we grew during this period about 15% per year)
        • Optimizing the external communication so that is was more in line with the USP and the strategy. We hired a specialized office for that.
        • Changing the way the sales people are remunerated
      • Structuring the organization, so that we increased the efficiency and the profitability.

The owners were now focusing on certain action domains. There were a ton of other actions that had to be done. And it was not so easy to ‘not do’ these other actions. But now at least, I a year the company made great strides forward. The team felt the company was really moving forward, in a certain direction. And there was a lot of positive energy now in the company.

It was essential to focus. To do less. So that we could go faster forward in the direction we wanted to go. But of course, it was extremely crucial to focus on the right actions, within the right time frame.

Choosing the wrong actions or choosing the wrong time frame to execute the actions, could have led to a terrible outcome.

And this whole methodology of the programon this website is designed to help you to determine the right actions, and the right priority. We cannot allow ourselves to waste time or squander results, can we? We have to work smart. And this program will help you to do so. It is designed for this.