Well Managed Companies

If a company is dependent on one (or more) people to perform then it is in danger. Processes should be in place that don’t risk the success of the company on the performance of a specific person. If your organization is dependent on a person start taking actions to place the success of the company in reliable processes instead of individual stars.

In many instances the start is as simple as starting to document processes using flowcharts. Another benefit of doing this is that you can then make sensible improvements. It is hard to make reliable improvement hen processes are not documented and instead remain the mysterious realm of individuals within the organization.

Do your outstanding people think their importance is in getting through another day through hard work and individual expertise. While those qualities are good most important to the success of the organization is improving the system not getting through one day. If those seen as the stars are not improving the system and processes then get them to work doing so. They might miss the feeling that the organization is dependent upon them. But it is more important that the organization not improve. And there contributions will still be worthwhile but the organization will be much stronger.

Performance dependent on specific individuals is not robust and not capable of continuous high quality performance.

Related: Bring Me Problems and Solutions if You Have ThemHow to ImproveManagement is Prediction

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3 Responses to Well Managed Companies

  1. Pingback: A single point of failure « Process Rants

  2. Chris Akins says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for the very insightful post. I’ve seen many organizations that were reliant on an either an individual or a small group of people for thier success. These organizations place themselves at great risk. The star player may get ill, or find a new position elsewhere, leaving a void that is not easily filled. Or stars may simply burn out as they take on more and more tough jobs, in a sense being victimized for their successes.

    Three things I always try to do on my team, and encourage others to do:

    1. Have a succession plan. Planning for tranistions both makes opportunities for the star performers to promote and develop, and prepares the organization for when the star performers move up (or out).
    2. Cross-train team members. Cross-training helps develop individual skills, and mitigates short term risk should key performers be away on travel, due to illness, or even on vacation.
    3. Spread the load. Even superstars go nova. Although it is tempting to give your star performer every important project that comes along, resist. Being a superstar should not equate to being a pack mule. And, assigning difficult projects to the “regular” folks on the team may result in the development of more stars.

    Again, thanks for the post. It’s very thought provoking.

  3. Pingback: A Strong Management System Handles the Transition of Leaders With Ease » Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog

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