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SWS #02: 4 reasons why most businesses SUCK at processes

Most businesses suck when it comes to processes. 

I hear it constantly from friends and family.

  • “I’m working late just to keep on top of things” 
  • “I never see my manager“
  • “I'll be checking my email at the beach”
  • “Why is he making the same mistakes again and again?!”
  • “Why’s she sharing the feedback at this stage? It’ll be months of rework!”

In each case, it’s a symptom of a company that’s being held back by bad processes. It’s hurting their performance, and it’s hurting their employees too.

So, why doesn’t this stuff just get fixed??

The problem is that most leaders and manager don’t really know where to start.

When they’ve tried documenting processes in the past… it just hasn’t helped.

The effort of documenting often outweighs the value it’s meant to deliver. Even when really valuable guidance is shared, it doesn’t always get used, and quickly gets outdated.

Can you relate?

I certainly can — my first business got stuck for 3 years while I worked out how to fix this.

To get past this, we had to find solutions to 4 big mistakes we were making.

Mistake 1: Lack of focus

The first mistake was not focusing on our biggest business problems. 

We definitely started with good intentions. We could see we were working late, making mistakes, and struggling to onboard new team members. And we wanted to fix this!

But at some point we lost focus on the biggest problems, and started documenting areas of the business that weren’t causing as much pain.

Documenting started to feel like a separate initiative to the other business problems we were working on. And we now know that that’s a major red flag!

The solution is simple: always focus on your biggest business problems. Use processes to solve these problems in a more effective, robust and scalable way.

Mistake 2: No clear home

The second mistake is not having a well organized home for where documentation will live.

Not having a clear home is a huge barrier to people bothering to document at all. If it takes 10 minutes to work out where it should live, and then you’re not sure people will actually find it… why bother?

The solution here is to outline what guidance your team needs before you even start. Work out how it needs to be organized, in a single tool. Make sure everyone knows where to add new guidance, and where to look for it.

Mistake 3: Taking months to get an ROTI

The third mistake? Working on content that doesn’t deliver a fast return-on-time-invested (ROTI).

When working with new customers, I want to find problems that will pay back the time they invest in 3 weeks. If it takes longer than that, it’s probably not a big enough problem!

I was recently working with a business analyst who spent 3 days documenting a process. It was a big problem (her focus was right!), but the 3 days it took meant it would take 3 months to see a return on the time she invested. While 3 months might sound OK, it’s not good enough.

So, we showed her how to approach it in a different way.

Using this approach, she was able to document and delegate the task in just 3 hours, and that resulted in her getting a return on time invested in a single week (!!).

The solution to this mistake is to prioritize hard, document fast, and test to make sure others can use the guidance. For our business analyst, this changed documentation from being a chore that delivered little value, to being something that helped her to enjoy work more and deliver epic results!

Mistake 4: Not managing it

The final mistake? Not making sure the guidance actually gets used and maintained.

The solution to this one is simple: You need to manage it!

You need to hold your team accountable, and to do that you need visibility of whether or not the guidance is actually being used or maintained.

Sounds like a chore, but we found a way to do this in just 5 minutes a week using a simple dashboard. And that’s a dashboard we’ve now built into AirManual.

So there you go: the 4 reasons why most businesses
suck at processes.

Fortunately, there’s a way out, and you can skip the 3 years that my own business spent working it out.

At AirManual, we’ve created an end-to-end approach to help you Focus → Outline → Prioritize, Document and Test → Manage.

Check it out in our brochure, or schedule a call if you’d like to know more.



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