Good to Great

Boss, IT Business
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If you’re lucky, smart, at the right place at the right time, with the right service, trusted reputation and a solid plan you have a chance of running a good business.

Then things get really hard.

In part due to the burnout.

In part due to the fact that running a great business is at times at odds with what made it a good business in the first place:

In a good business the client is always right and we go above and beyond the call of duty to please everyone even if we have to put in a 30 hour shift. In a great business someone evaluates the cost of doing business and has to balance the incremental cost of making the customer right while making the business profitable – at the risk of putting an employee through a 30 hour shift that would trigger all sorts of compensation, legal, overtime and scheduling issues.

It’s not good, it’s not bad – it’s just business. It’s also a matter of accepting that the ways and means of how you operate a good business are not the same as operations of a great business. You cannot judge one by the standards of the other.

To add to the frustration – you cannot assume the rules, policies and procedures of one success story and apply them to another organization – or you kill everything that makes that organization tick and turn it into a soulless fast food chain.

This is where most businesses I have ever worked with or for have managed to fail or enter a state of perpetual mediocrity.

The transition from good to great is painful and it’s based in one thing above all else: discipline.

As the rules, policies, procedures, processes and stakeholders multiply exponentially.. the discipline to execute them all flawlessly and keep process in check is crucial. But nobody wants to be held accountable.

Discipline is quite simply: dedication to stick to the plan with no excuses.

This is where the common sense of small business grit has to take an abrupt exit: I know how to get a handle of my growing business – I will give raises to everyone and take off for a few months!

Money doesn’t make people work harder. It makes them lazier. It gives them an expendable income that they can spend on fun stuff and afford to take more time away from work. Overtime? Forget about it. Extra projects? Nah, got plans. Can we get this done faster? No, now that I have more riding on the quality of my work I can’t rush stuff and be blamed/fired over it.

Discipline starts at the very top, is implemented all the way down the org chart with the feedback floating all the way up to the top. No, you can’t just decide that you’re going to make someone else do the hard work and promote someone to do the transition for you while you go climb the Himalayas.

You cannot blindly transfer authority and make it someone elses problem.

You cannot take someone elses best practices and hope they “stick” for you.

You cannot implement seemingly random and well intentioned policies and expect them to work.. without modification.. tomorrow.

You cannot expect or demand immediate gratification.

Ultimately, you cannot give up. Going from good to great is a choice between greatness, mediocrity or failure and the only seeming difference lies in the amount of effort you put in to make adjustments in your process.

Now that you know everything you cannot do.. tune in the rest of the week for the things you can do, things that you should do and some hopefully useful tips on how to make it all happen.