“Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.” – Stephen R. Covey
It’s really easy, in all aspects of our lives, to get caught up in details. We want things to be as close to perfect as possible, so we obsess about all the little pieces. In our businesses, we want our processes to be as efficient as possible, we want the technology to be used to the fullest, we want our methods of production to result in a terrific product.
All of those things are important. But what if we’re really efficient at a process we shouldn’t even be doing? What if our technology does something really well that doesn’t need to be done? What if our fantastic production methods create a product nobody needs or wants?
Sometimes we get so consumed by those details that we forget to step back and think about the big picture. I spent some time with a very successful business recently who’s spent a lot (I mean a lot) of time over the past few years on process improvement and efficiency. They’re doing things better than they’ve ever done them before.
But they’ve also found that people are so busy working on improving & executing process that they’re not spending any time with customers. It’s as though they’ve forgotten why they exist. Instead of thinking about what value they need to bring to customers, they adjust what they give the customers to fit the fantastic process they’ve developed. Great management, poor leadership.
What does your business look like? Are you so head down focused in the details and the process that you’ve lost sight of where the business needs to be? Do you stop every so often and think about where you’re going and about what the future may hold? What if you’re really busy doing a bunch of stuff that’s irrelevant?
I challenge you as a leader to take a step back and look at the larger picture. What will your customers demand in 5 years, and what do you need to do to get ready for that? What technology will you have to master in order to succeed in your marketplace, and are you working on mastering it? I could list another 20 great questions, but you get the idea.
You need to be efficient and you need to have great processes, but remember why that efficiency and process matters. They aren’t themselves the result you’re looking for. They’re a means to an end. Make sure you always have that end in mind.