What Do You Allow?

“Commitment is an act, not a word.”
Jean-Paul Sartre

Thanks to YouTube, we can all access amazing information, advice and perspectives for free, anytime. Or, we can waste away the hours.

In pursuit of the former, I was watching a Joe Rogan podcast recently. Who is Joe Rogan, you ask?

Mr. Rogan recently signed a $100 million deal with Spotify, so if you haven’t heard of him before, you have now, and you will in the future. He is a comedian, podcaster, martial artist, and life philosopher. He can go toe to toe with anyone, intellectually.

One of his philosophies on goals is that we often don’t achieve our goals because we allow things in our lives that conflict with our goals.

For example, if we want to lose weight, but allow late night snacks on a regular basis, we’ll never lose weight.

I want to take his personal “what do you allow?” question and apply it to business.

In business, what we allow is always under our control but often beyond our view. If we allow someone to not follow proper operating or safety procedures, even though we are not aware of the infraction, this has broader implications that that single occurrence. Other employees will assume that not only do we, as owners, allow this behavior, we may even fully support it. That’s a problem.

Even minor transgressions can become bad habits that are hard to break. That’s why your credibility as a leader can be undermined by any and every employee’s behavior, all the time. The keys are to react quickly when you uncover inappropriate behavior and always lead from the front with the right behavior.

It’s just like being a parent. Our kids are always watching us and learning what is acceptable from what we do, not what we say.

An even bigger problem is when our goals and objectives are in conflict, which we have implicitly allowed by creating them in the first place.

  • If we want to rush an order, that might cause quality problems or errors.
  • If we’re focused on short-term revenue, we’re not building long-term relationships that give us real advantages over larger companies.
  • If we focus on selling our product, we might ignore helping the client with what they truly need.
  • If we put our internal rules ahead of the customer’s needs, we might be pushing our customer out the door.

A very powerful consulting approach I utilize is:

  1. to identify conflicting objectives
  2. sort out the priorities, and then
  3. develop clear actions to pursue the now unconflicted goals.

“What do you allow in your business that is in direct conflict with your goals and values?”
–Phil Symchych

One of the most impactful things that I see business owners and leaders allow is for their people to waste time. It’s not because people aren’t working hard. It’s because leadership hasn’t taken a step back to review what is being done, why, and how it impacts the customer, the employee, and the business.

People are wasting time because they’re doing the right thing in the wrong way or they’re doing the wrong thing but no one has stopped them.

A valuable exercise to evaluate business activity and the value of actions is value stream mapping. It makes the actions visible so you can identify what we’ve allowed that might not need to be there, or that conflicts with other procedures or priorities.

For example, we may commonly ask our best employees to do all sorts of things that are not related to our main goals, because they will get things done. It might be good delegation, but it might conflict with the goals.

Your actions:

  1. Clarify and communicate your goals and priorities.
  2. Ask people what frustrates them or wastes their time.
  3. Examine what actions support your goals or actually work against them.
  4. Develop a Value Stream Map for major work processes, including internal administration, production, and direct customer interactions.
  5. Simplify, simplify, simplify.

Why is it that an employee’s most productive day is usually the day before they leave for vacation? That’s because they’re getting everything important taken care of or lined up for others to handle. They aren’t allowing distractions. What if we all acted like that every day and didn’t allow things that weren’t consistent with our goals and priorities?

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