How often have senior executives and boards found themselves discussing the last month, the last quarter, the last year? How often do management teams talk about how the last fortnight was, the last week and even the last day? What were year on year comparisons?
All very relevant and meaningful data and the cornerstone of many board meetings, however is this traditional routine of reflecting on the past failing small and medium sized businesses?
Reflecting on the previous month, quarter or year is important in many people’s world. The information gets presented with such pride in its accuracy, clarity, and granularity even if business performance is less than favourable. There is no doubt that it will inspire action (otherwise, please give up) and the outcomes of those actions will of course get reviewed 2 or 3 weeks after the next month end or quarter end.
The chatter at these meetings is often, “these numbers are not where they need to be, what will we do?”. Of course, there will be action points recorded and assigned to relevant parties and we’ll review it next month or next quarter.
So the paradox here is that often the next meeting is mid-way through the next period…. And if these results remain unchanged, the question will be “what will we do for the next period?”
However, the more actionable question that business owners should be asking is “We’re running behind our targets this month (or week, or day!) what are we doing about it?” …it’s timely and relevant but all buzzwords aside… it can have an actual impact on actual performance.
Is the difference obvious?
This is how we did, what will we do between now and the next time we review these numbers to do better?
This is how we are doing… what are we doing about it?
Living in the past, planning to do better in the future… but the time to act may have already passed
The challenge many businesses are now facing is that many of the business owners or managers (the people driving your business forward); those with responsibilities of both action and leading, sometimes working outside of the office or main place of business… use these meetings as the opportunity to review the performance of the team… looking at the past.
To enable these key people to do their jobs efficiently and continue to drive your business forward, you must:
Only send information that requires their action
Provide them with the pertinent information only (a customer once told me, if you are giving me more than 2 pages of information, it’s pointless)
Ensure the information is actionable i.e. they must understand why the information is being presented to them (often it should be categorised e.g. for approval, for prioritisation, for info only)
Help them prioritise their actions – decision making can be energy sapping - the legend of Mark Zuckerberg and his dress code is said to be one to save him having to decide what clothes to wear; it’s one less decision he has to make each day. Make your business drivers job easier
Make it easy for them to communicate with the relevant parties on the information presented to them
Optimise this information for a smart phone. Ensure they can action it with their phone. People forget ipads, tablets, laptops…but nomophobia ensures that they rarely leave home without their phone!”
The correct data, at the correct time, regardless of your location is what your ERP software should be doing for your business. Ultimately, these result in a better customer experience, more control of your business, more engagement of your staff….. better overall performance!
Living in the past, planning to do better in the future? The present is the time to act