Business operations are fluid, like a river flowing downhill.  When you add a Customer, Vendor or Employee it is like putting a rock in the current and changing the direction just a little; add a whole lot of rocks and you get a dam or it can change the river’s direction entirely.

Maintaining control of the direction of your company requires constant attention to detail.  Many owners make decisions and move on to the next issue, but making a decision is only the beginning.  Once a decision is made, there must be further action; further review, implementation of the decision (change) and follow through on how the decision is affecting the overall direction of the company.  Operationally, 80% of the decision process is almost always completed, but that last 20%, the analyzation of the decision effectiveness and whether it accomplished what was intended and became a company habit, is regularly ignored. 

To help business owners and managers make decisions, dividing the process up into five parts can help maintain control over how decisions are made and managed and will reduce the 80/20 Operations Mistake. 

20%  - Issue Analysis – Who, What, Where, When& Why

Not all Issues are bad.  Growing Markets, New Markets, New Employees, Policy or Procedure Change are all Issues that can be positive.  When addressing an Issue for your company, regardless of its context of negative or positive, a clear understanding is required.  First you must understand the Who, What, Where, When and Why of the Issue and its effect on your company.  Who are the employees, vendors, and customers?  What are the product or service that may be affected?   Where are these issues occurring and during what process or action?  When are the issues occurring?  Why are the issues occurring?

Who is sometimes obvious.  You might have complaints from Customers, High Employee Turnover, and Vendors that are difficult to maintain relationships with.  If it is not obvious, objective and honest analysis of anyone involved in the process, procedure or product will need to be reviewed. 

What can be a product defect, procedural inefficiency or policy flaw.  Sometimes the What can be hidden or covered up by efficient employees and vendors or tolerant customers.  Also, don’t always assume that a fix to the What is always the resolution to the entire problem. 

Where an issue occurs can help to isolate the what, who or when of an issue.   It is important to document the Where and keep that in perspective.  Changing issues with a Customer or Vendor can become even more complex for a business owner, as they are generally outside the owner’s direct area of influence to affect change. 

When an issue occurs it can be tracked easily if you have well defined Policy & Procedures.  Other times, When is easy because it is just plain obvious.  However, if it is an issue buried or covered up by other actions by third parties or multiple sources, well defined P & P can help to uncover the When. 

Why is the entry into the next phase; 40% Definition.

40% Why – Defining the Issue

Understanding why an issue is happening is the culmination of the Analysis.  If you have properly documented the Who, What, Where and When then Why should be understood. 

Once you understand all the aspects of Why, you can begin to formulate the proper decision needed to address the issue.  Regardless of the scope of the issue, if you know the definition of the issue, you know why it is occurring.

This is where some people lose interest in issue resolution.  They may determine through the analysis process that the issue is not important, not affecting them personally or that others can deal with the issue.  This decision is just another rock in the river path of the company and has its own direction changing affects that may or may not take the company where the manager or owner wants it to go. 

60% Change Development – Defining the Change

Developing the resolution can be as simple as a quick snap decision or as complex as a complete policy overhaul.  By the time you get to this point, you’ve only determined that something has to change. 

This is the point where you are going to decide to Set Rocks.  No matter what the decision is, it will have an affect on the Who, What, Where and When and it will create a new Why.  We call this Setting Rocks because you will be changing the direction of the company when this decision is implemented.  Make sure you understand the change and the affect it will have.   

What is also important is that whatever you decide to do about the issue, you do it with conviction and implement the resolution as quickly and efficiently as possible.   

80% Change Implementation – Making the Change

Change is difficult, period.  Almost everyone dislikes change.  Habits form in three to six weeks and once established, habits are very confortable, even ones that are causing issues within an organization. 

Change implementation is where we begin to lose most of the people in an organization.  Upon the initial implementation of change, people will pay attention to the reason why and will attempt to learn whatever is needed to implement the change.  However, as soon as the initial time has been spent, we often see organizations fall back on the past habits that served them comfortably. 

Many times, the resurgence in the original issue will be enough to affect continual attempts at implementation of the change, and over time the new process, procedure or product will become a new habit.  However, many times the leaders have moved on to a new issue and rely on the rest of the company to finish the last 20% of the change process; Habit Formation. 

100% Decision Review and Habit Formation – The missing 20%

Employees have a difficult enough time with issue resolution, and many will tell you that they would prefer to resolve their own issues.  However, case study after case study confirms that people enjoy having a structured environment that defines issue resolution and provides guidance for them that is consistent and supports their area of responsibility. 

If the decision champion can see a resolution through Habit Formation they will see continued progress in their overall desired direction for the company.  Without follow through on each decision, employees, vendors and customers will develop short cuts or solutions to anything not clearly defined and documented in a decision. 
By establishing a structured change protocol that analyzes, defines, creates the change, implements the change and then makes the change a habit, an owner or manager will have eliminated the 20% of the solution that generally gets ignored, potentially heading off additional issues or complete failure.  



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