February 12, 2024

The fifth thing, Tight and Loose

The fifth thing for my Manifesto for Small Business Growth and Productivity would be this pair:

Keep your Promise Tight.

Create absolute clarity on who the business serves and what the business promises to do for them. Nail down the values and behaviours that drive ‘the way we do things round here’, setting expectations for behaviour for everyone in and around the business.

One of the characteristics of a self-organising system is that “as it changes, it does so by referring to itself; whatever future form it takes will be consistent with its already established identity. When the environment demands a new response, there is a reference point for change.”

For your business that reference point is your Promise of Value.

The more clearly and explicitly that is spelt out, and built into the way a business works, the more resilient your business will be – not because it won’t change, but because changes will always be adopted in a way that is consistent with that Promise.

Keep your Processes Loose.

Balance the need to provide clear direction on what has to happen and when, with the need to leave room for adaptation to circumstances and the ability to change in response to your environment.

Write down the bones of your operating system, documenting the 80% of cases that usually happen. Leave room for your team to flesh those bones out, based on their own know-how and experience, and their knowledge of your Promise.

Together, a tight Promise and loose Processes create a resource that is actually useful. They become the foundation of your management system; a blueprint for action; a specification for automation and a springboard for improvement.

They are the Discipline that makes Daring possible.