Note: This week on my Blog Talk Radio show, Talk Business With Howard, Terri Griffith is my special guest. Terri is the author of the book, The Plugged-In Manager. The ideas in this book can help to improve your business.
If you are a CEO, president or business owner, this show is for YOU. Running a successful company means being a leader AND a manager. You need to be plugged-in to your company. Terri will talk about how to effectively do that and much more.
I am a believer in always asking questions on a daily basis about your business. Terri asks a great business question in this guest blog post. Thank you, Terri, for the blog post and for being on the radio show. Looking forward to Wednesday’s conversation with you. -Howard-
Small and medium sized businesses have the most to gain from being plugged-in. In a large corporation change takes longer, is harder to sustain, and is likely to be a smaller piece of the overall business. In the world of smaller business, even tiny adjustments can bring great value to improve your business. I’d like to you make one small adjustment this week, and then tell me about the outcome.
As you make a decision, ask yourself this question:
Is this the best combination of my people, my technology, and my process, or could it be just a bit better?
I’m not asking you to hire someone, buy a new gizmo, or restructure your company. Just ask that small question and see if there are a couple of tweaks to your decision you could make that might:
- Take away a roadblock for an employee doing his or her best job
- Remove even one step in a customer’s purchase decision or process
- Reach a new segment of customer for little effort
- Give you one new idea for a product or service
- Engage with a new partner for mutual benefit
- Give you one extra hour a week to use as you will
I say a couple of tweaks because it is rare that you can change just one thing. If I add a new technology tool, then I need to add some kind of communication or training and possibly motivation to use the tool. But they don’t have to be a big deal. Here are some examples:
- Small is the new big.
- Test the minimum viable change for faster, better change.
- Even a spreadsheet can be a great communication tool.
Being plugged-in doesn’t mean using the most technology or spending the most time on Twitter or Facebook. There are three practices.
First, it means stopping to look at your options across the categories of people (their knowledge, skills, abilities, and motivations), technology tools (everything from how your conference room is arranged to how you communicate with employees and customers or the method you use to pour steel), and organizational process (who is involved in decisions, how are meetings run).
Second, ask yourself our small question: Is this the best combination of my people, my technology, and my process, or could it be just a bit better? This is a mixing process. If a technology is more complicated, you may need more experienced employees, or to provide more opportunities for learning. A new employee may bring new skills, ideas, or networks that leverage the technology you have or help you make improvements to your current process. Think about it as a negotiation where the issues on the table are categorized by People, Technology, & Process. Think about tradeoffs that can make things just a bit better.
Third, share the question with others. You may have good ideas, but so may they. Also, the more people involved in discovering a small change, the more they will understand it and work to sustain it long enough to see if it works.
I wish I’d had Howard Lewinter to talk to as I wrote The Plugged-In Manager: Get in Tune with Your People, Technology, and Organization to Thrive (Chapter 1 is available here). I’m certain we would have found clear-cut examples of time challenged managers working on limited budgets. I’m looking forward to adding examples like that to my blog following our discussion on Talk Business with Howard this Wednesday morning, August 1 at 11 AM/Eastern.
And now, a request: Of course I’d like you to read more about these ideas in my book The Plugged-In Manager (and I’d love your review on your favorite book site), but could you also vote for me in the Small Business Influencer Awards? Click here to vote – no registration required.
Terri Griffith is a Professor of Management at Santa Clara University. From her location in the heart of Silicon Valley, Terri’s research and advising helps executives build, manage and improve their organizations. Terri is a regular contributor to her own blog, Technology & Organizations; and has written for the Wall Street Journal and GigaOm’s WebWorkerDaily. Recently, she was named as one of the 100 honored members of the 2012 Silicon Valley Women of Influence. For more information, see TerriGriffith.com.