If anyone told me that one day, one of my favourite things in the whole world would be process, I would have laughed them out of town. Me? Process? No way. Boooring!
I'm the 'front of house', big picture, 'roll with the punches' and 'jump in with both feet' kinda girl. That 'back of house' stuff was never my forte, and frankly I let other people worry about that. Until of course, I started running my own show.
Now don't get me wrong - I am still very much in my 'zone of genius' when I am focused on the 'front of house'. What do I mean by that? I mean anything to do with building relationships, client conversations and sessions, presentations, vision, strategy, big picture... and the more human interaction the better!
The thing is, it's all very well for me to tell people to operate only in their zone of genius and outsource everything else, and trust me - it works and it is transformational. But you can't actually do that without also taking into account the environment in which you operate. Does your environment constrain you or liberate you? You see - an environment that allows you to flourish in 'the zone', is a carefully crafted mix of many different elements. Amongst other things, this environment will have a culture that empowers others, a leader that knows their strengths and weaknesses, a team of superstars that know their jobs and are set up to succeed, a clear vision to filter everything against, and a great roadmap for execution. Behind the scenes of a great environment that does all this, are great processes that bring the user experience to life, iron out inefficiencies and let your talented people (and you) ditch the tasks that can be automated and get on with the value adding things that frankly, only humans will ever be able to do.
So... do I take my own advice? Well if I'm going to practice what I preach, I should only be operating in my zone of genius, and staying true to my vision - which is to build a scalable and profitable business that not only allows me to spend time doing non-business stuff, but also helps as many ambitious entrepreneurs and leaders as possible to make their vision of success come true. I will not achieve any of that sitting in my office, doing everything and juggling the eternal balancing act of business development, client sessions, and follow-up, all whilst also building the engine room that makes it all tick. So this led me to contemplate what advice I would give my clients:
Firstly, the advice I would give them is write down everything that they love doing and where they add the most value, and to outsource, automate or delegate everything else (or partner with someone who loves to do what they don't). Ok, so I have done both those things, and I have a growing team of absolutely awesome people who are specialists in fields that I am clueless in or that totally drain my energy. This actually excites me, because I have always been about putting the best possible team together. But then I hit another snag. The old chestnut "It takes so long to tell someone else what to do, that I may as well just do it myself" reasoning.
The fact is, this reasoning is actually correct - so long as you don't have any processes written down. To take my own advice, and make my vision come true, I need to set the business up with seamless processes that map every teeny tiny step of everything I do. Time consuming? Yes. Temptation to just do and not document, just one more time because it is faster? High. But, I'm persisting. And weirdly, I'm not hating it. What is keeping me going during this next growth phase is that I can so clearly see what my business will look like without processes that can be outsourced, delegated or automated in place. It will be a boom and bust cycle of exhaustion, stupidly long days, vital client communications falling through the cracks, and me never being able to enjoy time off without feeling guilty. If that's not motivation to get some processes in place - I don't know what is!
Whilst my example is based on running my own business, the moral of this story applies to anyone - whether you are a member of a team, leading a team, building a business or entering the next phase of growth. The basics work, and one of the foundations is to get strong processes in place before you can leverage and optimise your business.