If your business growth was once booming but has since slowed, where do you think you should look first?
Marketing content? Nope.
You may have problems in all three of these areas and probably have a lot of problems in other areas too. However, if you try to fix them one at a time or all at once, more issues will spring right up.
You have to go to the root, and that starts with your Org Chart!
Stop! Don’t click the back button just yet. Here’s why.
When your sales, pricing, leads, production, etc. go down enough to slow your growth, they are typically a sign of a deeper problem.
The problem is with your decision making processes.
Who is making decisions, in what setting, based on what information? And who is affected by those decisions?
At first glance, you may think, “Oh, that’s simple,” but when you look closely at how things are actually working, it becomes less straightforward. What you’ll see is a tangled web, expensive redundancies, and critical gaps. Interdepartmental communication is virtually non-existent, and things are dropping more often than anyone would like to admit.
Stare at it long enough, and you’ll wonder how anything gets done.
Why does this happen?
Most young businesses make an org chart once, and even then, it’s only because they need it for the business plan, the bank, or investors. Not a day later, the org chart is forgotten as it should be. In the beginning, you are the org chart. It’s just a piece of paper with a bunch of titles and your name written all over it.
Then as new team members come in, you don’t even have the time to give them all the training they need. Why would you waste time keeping an ever-changing (and mostly irrelevant) org chart up to date? You wouldn’t. You shouldn’t. You are better off hiring staff members that are more concerned with getting the job done than what title they have while they do it.
The business grows and grows, and with it comes more and more staff. More staff tends to mean more layers too. As those layers, which are both formal and informal, build-up, as the size and scope of the work gets larger, the make-it-up-as-we-go structure starts showing signs of strain.
Signs that you need to take a look at your org chart.
Your customers will be the first to know that something is wrong. As your customers move from sales to billing to fulfillment to support, they get a first-hand view of the dysfunction that exists in the absence of an org chart. Sales makes promises that may or may not be realistic, but fails to pass all that information to the next team. Billing holds a customer to pay on invoice, not knowing it isn’t due until after the order has been fulfilled. Fulfillment hasn’t had blue widgets in stock for weeks but never updated the inventory system because no-one looks at it anyway. And support is scrambling to do whatever they can do to clean up the mess but never takes the time to communicate their experiences the other departments in a way that allows everyone to work together toward a shared solution.
It’s cats and dogs, and the gaps in between are growing increasingly large. The worst part is that as things fall into these gaps, the standard response is to point fingers across the chasm.
Stay tuned in to customer complaints. Rather than reacting to each one, consider how the various teams involved can better communicate and coordinate on behalf of the customer.
Another sure sign that your org chart needs a refresher is when decisions are made but never executed. You have brilliant meetings and bring forth world-changing ideas, but they don’t seem to materialize. You respond by coming up with even more world-changing ideas to make up for the last one, and the cycle continues.
The deciders get frustrated, thinking, “We’ve already answered these questions and solved these problems, so why are they still here?”
The doers get frustrated, wondering, “Do they really think that’s going to change anything?” If it goes on long enough, the old-timers will start to advise newcomers, “Don’t worry, they’ll forget about it in a week or two, and things will go back to the way they were.”
To get through this problem, the decision-makers and the doers need to create effective feedback loops and sync up their cadence. Then, the right decisions can be made and fully executed.
Chip and Dan Heath, in the book Made to Stick, recall a story about a large manufacturer whose different factories and departments collectively ordered 424 different types of gloves for their workers, most of which had no discernible difference whatsoever. They were wasting a fortune not only on some of the gloves being wildly overpriced but also in the amount of time each individual department spent making the same decision.
While you may not be purchasing 424 different types of gloves, you may be wasting precious working hours solving problems within one department that have already been solved in another.
I’ve seen this in software subscriptions, shipping supplies, and office furniture, to name a few.
The critical point here is to take a long hard look at who is making what decisions and whether those decisions can be consolidated and made more efficient.
Org Chart Plus
Each of these signs are warning indicators. If not heeded, I can assure you things will get worse and not better. Now, you may be wondering, how is a flow-chart with a bunch of names and titles on it going to solve all these problems magically.
Instead, you need to start seeing the org chart as more than a chart. You need to see it as a depiction of the business’s ability to effectively and efficiently process information in a manner that produces consistently high-quality decisions.
That’s right; the org chart isn’t about who rules over who. It is about how information flows and how that information is used to make high-quality decisions that will move your company forward. Once you define these flows and give everyone in the company that same clarity, you will have laid the necessary groundwork for long-term solutions to be created and implemented across the organization.
If you’re interested in creating an org chart that can help your company break the cycle and start growing again, contact our office. Our Predictable Success Acceleration Program will give you and your team a clear roadmap on how to get through these difficulties and many others. You’ll save countless hours, and your whole team will thank you for it!