I am often asked to help companies figure stuff out: Why they struggle with growing sales, how to reduce costs, or which employee to promote are typical discussion points.
“They” won’t let me. Ok, who is “they”? Whoever setup this system. Aah, that “they”.
These talks often revolve around people, and for the most part I let that go on because there is a lot of background information there. Then, when the customer thinks I should have enough ammo to tell them why the challenge at hand is a “people” issue, I let then know that what they have is a PROCESS ISSUE.
In fact, I explain that most difficulties in a company can be addressed by examining and adjusting process. After that, most remaining problems are management’s. When those are cleared up, what’s left – if anything – is perhaps a personnel problem. 70% Process, 25% Management, 5% personnel is my estimate of how it goes down. If you consider that management is generally responsible for process, then 95% of the time they are the culprits. A good friend of mine explained to me when I started consulting that most of the time when I find a problem in a client’s company, it will have started with the person who signed my check.
So, if something doesn’t work and you feel inclined to blame someone – stop and consider that a good process catches human errors and corrects them. We cannot engineer (or mandate, compel, or coerce) mistakes out of people. But we can build in the safety nets we all deserve so that we can continue to be human while collectively putting out a great product.
PS: Process applies to Sales people as well. The highly-motivated, efficient, intuitive, and productive sales person is a one in a thousand find. The rest of the normal world needs processes to help ensure their success. This goes way beyond “Have you made your 40 calls today?”