The single biggest advancement in productivity a firm can make is to increase the decision power of its employees. This change will move decisions to the level in the organization where opportunities for improvement are located and increase the velocity of change within the company.
I call this action velocity the speed at which ideas are formulated, discussed, modified, and finally implemented. The higher the velocity, the less time it will take to enact change.
The visual above shows the flow of ideas and actions through an organization and the breadth of decision power at each level in the organization. I define this breadth and the operational boundaries.
The further down the chart you travel, the narrower the operational boundaries and hence the decision power. This diminishing of power slows progress and increases the turbulence caused by internal bureaucracy.
Maintaining Operational Velocity
Think of a common garden hose laying in your back yard. Most of you have placed your thumb over the end of a hose to create a high-pressure spray from the column of water. Think of your thumb as the operational boundaries in the graph shown above.
As you squeeze down on the water with your thumb, the pressure within the hose increases so maintain the volume of water flow. The resultant pressure increase creates the spray. While the volume of water may remain fairly constant, the result is a torrent of water that can be difficult control. What can’t be seen is the turbulence created within the hose.
The same thing happens in organizations. As the decision power for employees down the line is decreased, the pressure on the system increases so the operational velocity to keep deadlines and commitments can be maintained.
While the output may remain constant, the turbulence created within the departments causes unnecessary churn in the forms of rework, changes in direction and an overall increase in employee stress.
Opportunities for Improvement
Many opportunities for improving your company open up when the operational boundaries are broadened to allow more decisions to occur at all levels. Some of the benefits are:
- Increased number of ideas being proposed and implemented
- Reduced time to implement new concepts
- Improved business results in general
- Reduction in bureaucracy in the forms of gatekeepers and multiple “double-checking” of data to ensure perfection
- An attitude of “how” instead of “no” when presented with challenges
- Improved workforce engagement
Your employees are your greatest asset. They know the details of your business as no one else can since their portion in their sole focus.
If you want to improve their level of commitment and performance, and therefore the performance of your business, broaden their decision power and input.
The lessening of stress on the system will also free the upper levels in the organization to focus less on tactical and implementation questions and more on guiding the firm to its best destination.
Doug Ringer, the author of The Product Rocket, works with leaders who want to think strategically, grow dramatically, compete successfully, and develop profitable habits within their organizations. He can be reached at 502-509-9746. Follow his work at www.dougringer.com and Twitter.