It’s interesting if we look at the first day of the week from the standpoint of goals, it is exhilarating due to the thought of the life-changing events or opportunities that can happen during the course of the next seven days. It’s like a sunny morning. Or maybe like New Year’s Day. A fresh start to be disciplined, healthy or create mental shifts.
As we grow each day as a company, as individuals and in revenue, there is one very important thing to keep in mind. The thinking or mindset that got us here, won’t get us there. In most companies, processes are created by a group of leaders, then documented and force fed to the staff to ensure strict compliance and order.
While we are growing quickly and don’t have the multiple layers of middle management to police compliance (and never will) our culture is a bit different. It is a culture of “owners” who are measured off results over form, or metrics over scope. Owners who seek to improve every single day and look at problems as opportunities to excel and improve. These owners also see a lack of problems to solve, as a problem in itself.
This is because it means we are not moving ahead and broadening our horizons. Why? Because an underlying problem becomes exposed with growth and forces us to come up with more efficient ways to handle processes. Things we once managed by exception in the past will no longer work because there are more balls up in the air. In traditional business structures, an employee will become busy with increased workload until management hires another one of them, watering down this person’s value toward the organization.
If management doesn’t add a person to ease the pressure, they will likely be overburdened with work which has a negative impact on their personal lives. They will work longer hours in the short term until they can no longer take it, then quit with high frustration. The boss doesn’t understand why they quit as he thinks he is showing the person loyalty and confidence by giving them opportunities for growth but not understanding that the person sees it as a headache they don’t need. This is a lose/lose scenario as it makes a top heavy (hire fast and fire faster) environment that is easily solved with solution-minded people looking to improve efficiency.
The root cause of the heavy workload is miscommunication, which is resolved by exposing problems and improving process flow so individuals and the team can thrive. This communication process for Elliott Homes is called phase teams and is put into place so ALL members of our team have a voice toward improvement. It is also there so they don’t feel like they continue to be loaded with unrealistic expectations and have no way of resolving it.
As individuals, we generally get meaning from contributions, personal improvement or achievement within our lives. Taking an occurring problem that we see and putting a long-term fix in place for this problem gives us this feeling of fulfillment after we have literally changed the future trajectory of Elliott Homes. It gives us the feeling of contributing toward something that is larger than ourselves as an individual. That something is this team.
The hardest part about this style is not the solutions either, it’s overcoming being human, it’s overcoming what we are taught our entire lives. Meaning not looking at problems as headaches, negatives or roadblocks toward getting through the day easy. Instead, look at them as opportunities to create real change in the world, toward improving our team and more importantly, taking ownership toward improving the quality of life within the markets we serve. As we grow as a team and as individuals, we will have HUGE opportunities and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them will start off disguised as a problem.
Here is some simple math for you. Let’s use sales as an example since it is very black and white.
Scenario for discussion: we are lacking traffic, we are lacking contracts, we are behind on goal, we have too many sitting specs. Etc.
Traditional thinking: marketing better will get us traffic, we can’t convert because of weak prospects, the goal was not created by us and is too high and the market is soft so we can’t move specs. Then they sit and wait for the boss to tell us next steps and hope the market becomes hot. As a company, where does this lead? Well, it leads straight to a good old finger pointing match, that’s where.
Then there is the approach of looking for solutions to help turn red to green.
Let’s say it takes a week to implement a solution for each problem and communicate it to others. If we wait for the boss to find solutions to our issues then tell us what he wants us to do, we will tackle 52 sales problems a year. 1x (1 a week) = 52 total problems.
If we take 100% ownership in the problems we encounter and use it as an opportunity to improve as a team, then we compound the solutions by the number of people, solving 728 sales problems each year. 14 (people) x (52 weeks) = 728. Now, remember if each opportunity in our lives starts out as a problem………. WOW. That is a lot of opportunities to change the world. A lot of ways to create real meaning or fulfillment in our lives and a lot of improvement.
If you look at the company as a whole today that number would be 2,340 problems a year that would be solved. I bet we couldn’t even write a list of that many right now if we were all in a room together trying.
The response you will get from most people if you stated “opportunities come along everyday” would likely be that they don’t get them. I bet if you told them that problems come along every day, they would totally agree. Their issue in finding opportunities isn’t because they aren’t looking, it’s that they haven’t realized how they are born, as problems. Knowing that, now I ask: Do opportunities come every day?
As we grow, we have 2 choices.
1. To do things the way we do them and hire more people to handle additional work that comes as a result of growth. Which means we also let them all go when the market contracts. (the traditional way)
2. To create new process to become more efficient at each function which elevates our personal value to the team. This falls in line with the largest letters you can find on our innovation wall………… “own your role”
So, what do we do?
- Bring root cause items to the phase team meetings via the PPI forms that need to be improved.
- Review where we are falling short as a team from the dashboard and think how we can fix this.
- Be quick to support others if you see they need help but be open to listening first.
- Be appreciative of feedback on how to improve, never let it make you defensive. Ever.
- Follow the highest value on our innovation wall every second of every day.
“The day we stop learning is the day we cease to exist”
Have a fantastic week. Let’s build something extraordinary together this week.