DreamCatcher (Part 1)

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(Image licensed by Ingram Publishing)

Diana Vollmer |

Strong managers give owners time to think and dream

SAN FRANCISCO — To uplift a company, owners, leaders and CEOs need time to think and dream.

They need time to visualize the company of the future and time to determine the steps needed to transform the current organization into that better, more profitable future version.

According to Wikipedia: “Leadership is a process of social influence in which a person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.

“The Chief Executive Officer is the person who makes all the decisions regarding the upliftment of the company, which includes all sectors and fields of the business like operations, marketing, business development, finance, and human resources, etc.”

One of the biggest drains on this visualization and planning time is the day-to-day operation of the business.

What if managers managed themselves in a way that the business could self-manage, too? The time to actually perform the primary CEO duties could magically appear on the over-scheduled calendar.

Self-management is not as elusive as it may seem when you are battling the alligators snapping at your ankles with your left hand and putting out fires with your right.

The dream of manager self-management is a primary reason for the popularity of the old and new systems for strategic planning and project management.

Regardless of the current name, the systems are sound management tools that help get the job done in a timely manner without your daily involvement. Whether your reference point is Management by Objectives, Good to Great, The One Minute Manager or some other iteration leading up to the current trend leader, Traction’s The Entrepreneurial Operating System® (EOS), these systems work.

Not only do these systems get the job done, they encourage delegation. Also, they test for and develop leadership throughout the organization.

The process of choosing your implementation system should include evaluation of the success in other respected operations with challenges similar to yours.

Most businesses face similar challenges dealing with people, resource allocation, time constraints, competition, operations, logistics, financial control, sales and profit growth, leadership development, site selection, et. al.

The list is long and complex, so look both inside and outside the drycleaning world for examples of successful companies that have moved from good to great and ask how they have done it.

Key components of all of these systems are:

  • Status assessment

  • Mission/vision/core values or guiding principles

  • Measurable goals (both short- and long-term)

  • Responsibility assignments (team leader and team members)

  • Accountability

  • Specific timelines/deadlines

  • Shared scheduled updates (including successes and failed strategies)

  • Monitoring actual performance compared to goals

  • Plan refinement

A distinct shared vision combined with strong guiding principles forge a clearer path for everyone to know how to choose to do the right thing when presented with uncertain decisions.

As the CEO, you will be deeply involved in leading your management team through the long-term goal phase and then coaching them as they develop their short-term goals and plans for immediate implementation.

The more practice your team members have with the process, the more proficient they will become in moving the plans forward on a timely basis and holding subordinates accountable (as well as themselves) for the completion of the action steps needed along the way.

Monitoring and refinement feedback will become less time-consuming as your team matures as managers, leaders, planners and implementers.

WHERE YOU AT?

This is the phase that reviews where you are today as a company and as a team.

The traditional approach is the Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats (SWOT) assessment that lists all the items related to each category, with the first three category definitions being rather obvious.

For this purpose, threats are defined as outside influences that cannot be controlled by the company management. Examples would be changing environmental regulations or fashion trends that change cleaning and maintenance usage patterns. They need to be addressed in other ways, i.e. insurance, lobbying governmental bodies, and influencing trend-setters.

For this planning session, take your team off-site to minimize interruptions. Encourage them to think beyond the obvious and create a comprehensive list for each portion of SWOT. Newsprint pads with sticky strips are ideal for brainstorming and recording in this assessment session.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion!

About the author

Diana Vollmer

Methods for Management (MFM) Inc.

Managing Director

Diana Vollmer is managing director of Methods for Management (MFM) Inc., a consultancy specializing in drycleaning businesses. You may contact her at dvollmer@mfmi.com, 415-577-6544.

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