Have you ever looked at the result you produce? Perhaps it is a legal brief, a sales proposal or a software solution. Most likely, whether it is tangible or completely virtual, there were many tools, people and steps to create the end result.
On our team, we deliver business systems. The amount of thinking, planning, people, information, systems and communications is mind boggling. There are a number of failure points. There are many other projects which have to be managed at the same time. This all has to be delivered in the midst of uncertainty.
The uncertainty comes from all the other knowledge workers pushing on us for time, energy, solutions and mindshare. It’s part of the new deal in the new economy. We are all in the collaboration game. You have access to others much more easily now. You are most likely dealing with similar demands and expectations.
There are two types of people in this game today:
Complainers will always talk about how much work they have. It is their excuse for under-delivering. A year from now, they will still be talking about all the emails they have to answer and the feeling of being overwhelmed. They will always say that they have too much to do. Why not? If they can sell that to their customer and their boss, then there is no motivation to change their bad habits.
Competitors understand that they are in a game. While others are complaining, they are solving problems. They invest in their business in money, time and attention to manage what they know is coming every day – a pipeline of work. These are the fun people to work with and the ones we observe taking business away from the complainers every day.
If you want to find out if someone is a winner, just listen to them talk. They are a winner inasmuch as they don’t complain and instead focus on solving problems. Show me the problems you can solve, and I will show you what you are worth. After all, that’s the whole value today. We are all overwhelmed trying to solve problems.
I love watching the show HowStuffWorks on the Discovery channel. I watch it with my kids to teach them one thing above all – everything we see is a result of a process. There were steps, materials and organization to make it happen. When we watch how candy is made or how mechanical parts are built, we see conveyor belts, timing mechanisms, computerized controls and lots of movement in a cohesive system. This is what allows millions of widgets to be produced from a factory.
As a knowledge worker, you are a factory. There are raw materials (information) coming into your world and finished goods (knowledge) going out. Your ability to turn information into knowledge allows you to produce more and deliver value.
The funny thing is that instead of figuring out how to make a more efficient workflow, people and teams merely keep grinding away with poor tools, processes and talent. Improve any of these three and you get a different result.
Do you want to sell more? Then work on your factory first. Without control you cannot deliver value that your customer is looking for. Your competitor, whether a company or another person who wants your job, who is willing and able to bring a better process will prevail. Customers have enough friction in their life. They want it to be easy to do business with you, and they don’t care about your excuses. You are only one item on their long list of options, just as your vendor list is long as well.
Today, stop the insanity. Get control of your business by focusing on solving the main problem which is the root of lack of sales, weak customer relationships and too many urgencies in your business. Clear the runway before trying to fly or you will never take off. Get the help to implement the systems for your success.
If you are continually overwhelmed, it is likely you have inefficient systems and thus, you are not solving the problem, only tolerating it. Life and business can be much more if you will see the problem. If you don’t solve the problem, then your customer or your employer will do business with those that are easy to do business with not those who keep talking about the problem.