Realistic Perspectives

A concentration of material and thoughts focused around leadership, values, ethics, efficiency and effectiveness

Running a business with idiots

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The Oracle of Omaha (otherwise known as Warren Buffett) famously said ‘Buy into a business that’s doing so well an idiot could run it, because sooner or later, one will”. Buffet is famous for his unique method of assessing businesses for their “investment worthiness” and one key factor he looks for is “durable competitive advantage”. Like it or not, policy, process and procedures greatly help to improve an organizations competitive advantage and I would go so far as to argue that they form the very foundation required to ensure the organizations survival in today’s intensely competitive business environment.

The reason policy, process and procedures are a must for any serious business boils down to the simple fact that human beings are not perfect and no matter how detailed oriented you may think you are, its only a matter of time before you make a mistake. This is especially true when the said task is repetitive in nature or is performed only once a year/quarter/year. Due to these very simple reasons, we can safely say that it is only a matter of time before any employee in any organization makes a mistake or does misses doing something they were supposed to do.

Now, this mistake may be so small and so insignificant that no one may even notice it. But what if the said mistake was one that caused your organization to lose a significant sum of money or a key customer? Or what if the company is at loss due to someones mistake, but you cannot find who made the mistake itself since there was no document specifying who is responsible for what? How about a scenario where the person who has all the knowledge on how to run your department or organization, just up and left tomorrow?

The fact of the matter is, if your organization does not believe in or has no commitment towards policy, process and procedure implementation and adherence, the aforementioned scenarios may already be happening in your organisation.

Based on my experience, people within organisations tend to show a general reluctance towards ensuring process implementation and excellence. This is primarily because policy, process and procedures helps reduce an organizations dependence on people thus making them feel uneasy about the security of their job.

However, there are many situations where someones who was perceived as the person  accountable for an error was exonerated because the process clearly indicated that it was not the said persons responsibility. This is because policy, process and procedures helps to take out ambiguity within departments and organisations whilst making people clearly accountable for their respective deliverables.

Show your colleagues the positive impact that policy, process and procedures can have on an organization and start small. First define the policy as it is the base for your process and procedure documents. Process documents generally define the high level tasks within your department and organization whilst specifying Service Level Agreements and these should be prepared based on the policy document. Finally, the procedure document should be developed so that it contains micro level details about the process and should serve as a reference point. Ideally process and procedures should be reviewed at least twice a year to ensure that they actually reflect the way things are done.


Written by Talal Cassim

November 23, 2016 at 8:09 pm

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