The outstanding modern-day exponent of true end to end leadership was undoubtedly the late, great Steve Jobs. His biographer Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs, wrote a fascinating 30-minute summary of his leadership techniques posthumously called The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs. There are 14 of them summarised. Find it here in the Harvard Business Review April 2012 (PDF). Nobody successfully worked through and redefined the end to end customer experience as he did, time after time, product after product and innovation after innovation. He inspired people to achieve things they did not believe themselves capable of doing until challenged by his implacable determination.
Human After All
Steve Jobs was a great man but was ultimately another human being. His capacity for strong end to end leadership was derived from an astute understanding of both the business and workplace climate he operated in. From these foundations, Jobs established an adaptive business culture at Apple that allowed him to leverage the unique skills and ability of his organisation. This naturally let talent rise to the top without having to micromanage. Our unique approach to process management at Lloyd Parry is designed to let businesses of all types and sizes harness the same decentralised dynamism that propelled Steve Jobs to such global success.
These four business improvement tips are inspired by Steve Jobs but also illustrate the results you can expect by applying our ‘Adapt Change Framework’ to your workplace environment and the challenges of your market.
1) Focus & Simplify: “Deciding What Not To Do Is As Important As Deciding What To Do.”
The old time and motion experts with their clipboards and stopwatches may be somewhat outdated now but the principle remains the same. A detached observer can observe a process in action and spot weaknesses and inefficiencies that the daily process users just do not see because of familiarity. They can’t see the wood for the trees.
It is worth taking certain internal or external high cost processes or services and assessing them with a fresh and unjaundiced eye. Supply chain logistics is an example, or simply the fulfilment mechanism whereby physical products are picked, packed and transported from your facility to the customer. That is usually an expensive process.
Is your product mix delivering optimum profitability? Would it pay to drop some lines completely and focus on those that generate core revenues – perhaps repositioning them in the market or experimenting with bundling or some such initiative?
What Jobs did was to cancel a raft of Apple product development projects, forcing the company to focus on coming up with just four new products. It saved Apple.
2) Push For Perfection
Seeing your products, services or even your company as your customers view them is a critical attribute of the best internal teams and processes. Pushing for excellence in everything you do starts with changing the awareness of staff to think through the customer experience and perception of whatever aspect that team is delivering on. That awareness is an excellent motivator to deliver on. It’s like the woman who hates housework but whose home is spotless and gleaming because every morning she thinks, “If my mother in law walks through the door, what will she see?”
Attention to detail does not necessarily cost more but it does expose and remediate potential rough edges and flaws in the customer experience. Insisting on perfection imbues pride in all those involved with producing and delivering the company’s output. In fact, it should be the default behaviour of any enterprise but in reality, it marks out the very few special ones.
3) Engage Face-to-Face
What was the norm 50 years ago is nowadays going the way of the dinosaur and that is a sad loss for organisations that allow it to happen. Instant messaging, email, texts – superb timesaving and efficient mechanisms though they are, have lost to us the superb benefits of impromptu face to face conversations. For many of us, the only face to face engagements we routinely experience are scheduled meetings and that is not what this is all about.
The rich mix of ideas and new perspectives that is a natural outcome of accidental encounters with colleagues at the water cooler or tea station is diminishing with the advent of remote working. A manager, at any level, who does not frequently walk the shop floor, is missing opportunity for inputs on many levels. Changing one’s habits in simple ways such as that can harvest rich pickings.
Take Your Business To The Next Level – Become Adaptive
A leader comes into his or her own when they are put on the spot by sudden change. This is indeed the test of true leadership, whether individually or as a business. Faced with a changed external business climate, does the leader break down, fail to deliver or seek blame for their situation among third parties, or do they adapt, transforming a position of potential weakness into new opportunities for growth?
Business processes, leadership techniques, improvement strategies and so on are ONLY relevant in so far as they improve the ability of your business to become an adaptive culture. Establishing such a culture in your own workplace first involves understanding the human dynamics within which you operate. This includes your employees, consultants and suppliers you work with directly, and your customers, competitors and regulatory organisations in your wider market.
Change Your Internal Work-Climate To Exploit The External Business Climate
Knowing the external business environment is important but insufficient, because its your internal work-climate that will determine if and how well you are able to respond to external disruptive change. The work climate is the sum of all your human interactions with Leadership, work-practices, measurement and values. Lloyd Parry International have developed an organisational diagnostic - Climetrics® to measure the quality of your work-climate and identify areas most in need of change and predict weaknesses that would emerge should your business come under pressure to change.
At Lloyd Parry International we have a navigation suite of powerful procedures and technologies to convert the work-climate analysis into positive actions and create a path towards adaptiveness in response to whatever the future brings.
Find Out More
Find out how Adaptive Businesses rate significantly higher in the eyes of their customers. Take the first step by contacting us for an initial discussion of your enterprise, its markets and how it operates. Contact us today. Free advice about making your workplace more resilient to market changes can be found there: Guide to Adaptive Organisations and Cultures. Click here for your free download.