Are you playing Whack-A-Mole?
David Brydson | SmallBizLink
Almost everybody is familiar with the video game Whack-A-Mole or some variation of it. For those few that are not, it is a game where you have a large hammer, like a old fashioned carnival strongman, and you run around a playing field trying to hit “moles” that pop their heads up from holes in the ground within a specific amount of time. When you hit the mole, you get points and your score goes up.
As you progress through the game and get better at hitting the mole, they pop up faster and faster. The biggest challenge is, having to guess where they will pop up next. Because if you knew where they will pop up next, you could position yourself there beforehand. At some stage in the game they start popping up two or three at a time. They get very good at knowing where you are and pop up at the farthest hole from your current position.t
Now let’s use to use the same analogy related to your business or work life. If you are like most small business owners, you spend most of your day running from one fire to the next. These are your moles. You get to “Whack” a particular mole and then hurry to the next hole and whack that one. What you will quickly notice is, the more running you do, the faster the “moles” pop up. Just like the game.
You get to a point where you can no longer keep up with all the fires (moles) and your day runs out. You get to the end and you are exhausted and look up at the score for your day. Did you notice that in the beginning of the game, you scored much a higher hit rate and were more productive? Your sense of accomplishment dwindles and satisfaction drops. There is no longer a feeling of success.
Let us begin by thinking about your tasks in a different way. How would the game be different, if you could stop the moles from popping up as fast, or popping up at all? If you had a way to make that happen, wouldn’t you feel better about your success rate? At a minimum, you would not be as tired when the time ran out. The answer is to get below the surface and either block the holes or eliminate the moles BEFORE they pop up.
As moles are very creative in tunneling and popping up to the surface (just ask any farmer or gardener); you need a way to know either where they are going to pop up or how to eliminate them. The same is true for the daily fires that show up in your business. What you need is a system to eliminate or reduce them to a manageable number.
By having a system in place, you can predict, with reasonable accuracy, what is going to happen and when. You will have the answers (your hammer) readily available to whack them with, because you have removed the guesswork. You know what is going to happen, what the response needs to be, and who is going to handle it.
A system is nothing more than a series of processes, procedures, and tasks that are executed in a systematic way. By having one in place, you are less likely to hop from one fire to the next and will become more productive. If you find yourself putting the same fires out more than once or twice, then you have a good candidate for a systemized way of handling it.
The repeated fires are the result of something. Is that “something” you can control? If you were able to provide that “something”; would they stop occurring? If the cause is not anything you have control over, then you will have to systematize the response – or how the response is handled. Could someone else handle it, if they knew how or had the right tools? This is where your system becomes useful.
By reducing things to a system, you can have more time, effort, and energy to handle the most important parts of your company; the vision, strategies, and growth. And, that is what will keep you in business.
History has shown that organizations cannot afford to neglect systematization and strategic processes, especially in challenging economic times. The biggest risk of all is to do nothing. With every passing week that an organization does not have a well-considered strategy, solid systems and processes, and the enabling tools to execute them, it is missing opportunities to better position the company for sustainable growth.
By investing in operational efficiencies, your company can save money over time and be better positioned to take the lead when economic times improve. These systems free you to focus on your customers, so you can continue to nurture the business, strengthen critical relationships, and better capitalize on revenue opportunities. Systematic processes provide you with an opportunity to improve your business by providing the right mix of systematic transactions, automated responses and personal attention, to ensure long-term success.