Originally published by my coaching organization, Gravitas Impact.
A system of success
“At its core, a fully functioning business is basically a set of systems and processes.” – John Jantsch, Duct Tape Marketing
We spoke with Gravitas Impact coach Mike Knapp on the importance of acknowledging the need for change within the systems of your business, while maintaining the stability of your organization.
Knapp first addressed the limitations of viewing systems as synonymous with technology or utility platforms. “Systems encompass more than the software your business uses.”, he clarifies. “The systems within your business are comprised of the people, processes and finally technology that allow you to execute your operations.”
“However, technology is the area of greatest transformation right now. The processes that are time consuming and error prone can be automated, speeding up your process, reducing errors and letting your people focus on creating value.”
Despite systems playing such an major role in the sustainability and success of a business, it can be difficult to justify the adoption of new elements or recognize ones that have become obsolete or inefficient. But if the systems that generate your company’s success cannot adapt to the changing environment, you risk stagnation and system failure. Ultimately, implementing new technology is both a solution to prevent these failures and an opportunity to increase your ability to accelerate success.
Strategic use of technology
But, Knapp warns, “If you don’t have some representation of a technology leader on your leadership team you lose the potential to have an advocate for adopting new technology. Many times IT is seen as a tactical, supporting function and not brought to the strategic table. Often this is because of a lack of business acumen in the IT department. Technology is seen from the technology standpoint, not from the business value or strategic standpoint. IT as business strategy is an important growth step for companies.”
“It’s not always addressed in the planning process, but as the leadership team develops strategy and overall operations they need to ask these questions:
- How are we going to accomplish this?
- Are our processes able to scale to maintain success?
- How can we accelerate this with technology?
It has to cascade down through the chain that way, otherwise there will be blind spots.”
A case for change
Knapp also cautions, “Technology should never be adopted because everyone else is doing it. You need to have a justification process. You wouldn’t believe the number of times I hear people say, we’re doing such and such with the software and the IT person in the back is going, ‘they have no idea what they’re saying.”
Knapp recommends creating a standardized case for technology solutions as they are presented to the leadership team, addressed from a process standpoint first. “You can do it in a page,” he demonstrates, “Have the IT person or project lead present it in the management meeting. Part of the process here is to develop them as leaders.”
A writeup should address:
- What is the problem?
- How does this technology solve it?
- What is the risk level of adopting this technology?
- What is the impact on the business?
- What is the cost of the current business process?
- What is the upfront and annualized operation cost for the technology?
“If they have to justify their goals from the business standpoint,” Knapp explains, “they can then communicate it to their team more successfully.”