When building out your business, there’s always a clear, set mission to achieve significant growth and success – not only for yourself, but also the people that you take on that journey with you.
Similar to the task of hiking together with a team, you, as a leader and guide, must find a process that gets everyone to the top of the mountain in the most effective way, possible.
But what often tends to happen is that you and your team might be slowed down due to the hikers in the back; those that might be struggling to endure the arduous journey with you. And this usually means having to patiently wait for them to catch up to the rest of the team before you’re able to continue and push towards achieving your goal.
While culling those hikers might seem like an easy option, it’s often better to help them by offering to lighten their load, teach them a trick or two, or motivate them to succeed.
A Chain Is Only As Strong As Its Weakest Link
Indeed, you may find it quite challenging to embark on that journey to reach the top and you will undoubtedly face certain obstacles, but through a healthy dose of desire and determination, you’re well aware of the effort and willpower it will take to get there.
Confronted by ravines, narrow ledges and the many areas of discomfort on the path to success, it’s your job to motivate and empower your team – so that they too help ease the process of getting to the top.
And although each of the hikers within your team have their own backpacks or loads to carry with them, there’s almost always a person (or select group of people) that struggle to keep up and endure the load. Contained in those backpacks are things like skills, personal issues, beliefs, etc. which come to affect the load that needs to be carried on the way up.
Some people handle their load better than others. While some need help to manage or compartmentalise their load in a more effective way.
The issue with those members that lag behind is that it restricts progress and productivity; it slows the entire team down and prevents you from reaching your goal in the fastest way, possible.
It certainly seems like a great option to just go ahead and send those slow, struggling hikers back home, freeing up the energy to keep pushing forward – however, a better approach would be to convince your strongest, fastest hikers to train, inspire and assist the weaker ones, instead.
To do this, you need to ask your strongest hikers to help carry or re-arrange the backpacks of those that are in need of assistance. By removing or re-organising their backpacks, you reduce work-load, provide them with more opportunity to be trained and developed, and create a sense of camaraderie amongst the team. This results in a better, faster and more effective unit.
Using Theory Of Constraints To Reduce The Load
One of the most effective ways to view and come up with solutions to this situation is through the Theory of Constraints.
Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt, a physicist turned business consultant, came up with this model back in 1984 in his book The Goal, which teaches readers that every organisation, at any time, is limited in its ability to achieve its objective due to a single constraint.
Goldratt defined it as, “A thinking process that enables people to invent simple solutions to complex problems.”
This method is ultimately about focusing on different areas that need attention; attending to the weakest link on that chain and fixing the problem in order to increase productivity and prevent it from getting worse.
By using the Theory of Constraints, it’s important to find the answers to three big questions: What to change?; What to change it to?; and how to change it?
Answering these questions will ultimately provide direction and assist you in coming up with a plan to solve the problems that need to be dealt with.
In order to identify and solve the constraints that need your attention, a five-step method is usually recommended. This will help you find a starting point and give you a process that works effectively when tackling the situation.
The five steps are as follows:
Identify the limiting constraint. In the case of our team of hikers, take a close look at those employees that struggle to keep up with the rest of the team and that slow everyone else down. Figure out what it is that they need help with, whether it’s a reduced workload, more training, counselling, or positive reinforcement – you need to focus on finding the reason why they are struggling in the first place.
Exploit the constraint using existing resources before any investment. If you’re able to identify the constraint, come up with solutions that don’t require extra money and attempt to remedy the situation through resources that you already have available. If the slow hiker has issues with work that they are struggling to understand, then request one of your stronger hikers to train them, give practical advice or explain how to handle it better.
Subordinate all associated activities to the constraint. Although it might seem a bit counter-intuitive, it’s important to consider that every working part of the system might be supporting and giving fuel to an existing problem. By slowing the whole team down, you’re able to identify any hidden issues or problems that might be affecting the overall performance of your unit.
Elevate the constraint by throwing money at it. Once you’ve identified and worked on the issue at hand, it’s important to invest money or resources in it – so that you’re able to increase its durability and prevent it from causing any further damage down the line. If you buy better backpacks with more compartments and space to get you through the hike, i.e. spending money on training and education for those who are struggling – you create a barrier for those same issues surfacing in future.
Repeat the process to identify and solve the next constraint you could face. Go back and identify new constraints to be worked on and improve the ones that you’ve already solved, while keeping the cycle going. Ensure that everybody in the team is on the same frequency and keep a sharp eye on any new constraints that need attention.
This method has many benefits for not only your team, but the company as a whole. It helps you find and solve the reasons behind a lack of progress within the organisation, it provides a structure for continuous improvement, and allows you to approach constraints or issues without the need for investment or spending extra money on unnecessary band-aids.
Reducing or optimising the load of your weakest hikers will bring about a much faster and enjoyable journey.
Have the talk with your fastest and most efficient hikers. Butter them up, paint them as heroes and make them aware of how great they are and that they have the power to make a valuable and significant difference in the operation of your business, as well as those that need help.
If you’re starting to feel lonely in the front; nobody to bounce your ideas off of, tempted to try new routes or paths, or struggling to find the motivation to keep pushing – then I can help you with that.
Being a successful business coach means that I look forward to every opportunity to make a positive and remarkable difference in the lives of the entrepreneurs that I work with.
I’m like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings. I will enhance your journey while offering you the perfect advice, guidance and respect that you need as a business owner. I will share my network, strategies and formulae for success with you. I will help you find what you’re looking for.
Do it. Make the call, send the message. Reap the rewards.
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