“Who’s in charge here?” A question frequently asked when things go wrong. We want answers when bad decisions lead us to less than ideal outcomes! We demand to know where blame should be placed for any negative situation we find ourselves in! And we tend to assume that all decisions are made at the top level—and, too often, they are. And that’s the problem. Because the best decisions usually include operational features. Learn to make better decisions.
It’s a common misconception that the smartest, most capable members of an organization are at the top, “running the show.” But, that’s naïve thinking because a majority of us have been that employee dealing with an incompetent boss, right? Successful businesses (and governments) have learned that infrastructure, support, and teamwork are integral to effective decision-making. This is why leaders have advisors and the reason many companies utilize think tanks to make better decisions. Sure, there’s often a need for a strong “all-star” to be the face of a business or team, but organizations are finally acknowledging that operations are the glue holding everything together and communication between all levels is imperative.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the current trend shows that operations and analytics are critical components of marketing and planning. Additionally, automation, technology, customer needs, and the sharing economy are becoming vital components of the branding and marketing process. Some examples include:
- Internet sales. In the beginning, delivery and security were thought to be major obstacles. Today, quality customer service, heightened cybersecurity, and speedy delivery have become virtually standard. Additionally, the elimination of several processing stages (like those used in brick and mortar stores) can dramatically reduce costs and prices.
- Innovative marketing strategies. Creativity, differentiation, and advertising have always been the focus of traditional marketing and branding approaches. However, factors like value, service, quality, and culture are producing better results. The evidence is clear if you compare how brands in department stores target their customers versus the way Amazon and other leading online stores interact with users.
So how do you utilize operations to make better decisions?
- “All-inclusive” business structures. Companies are learning to value expertise and experience over the obsolete hierarchy system. Phrases like, “We have always done it this way,” and, “Because I’m the boss,” simply need to be replaced with a commitment to searching alternative options to find the best solutions.
- Integrate Functions. For example, an organization’s Customer Service department is frequently owned by the contact center (voice, chat, email), while a marketing team manages its social media. There’s a silo that needs to be broken down with this relationship in order to keep everyone on the same page and maintain communication between departments.
- Critical Analysis. More attention needs to be placed on analytics, review, and alternative approaches. In particular, risk, probability, and goals need to be taken into consideration as a critical part of problem analysis and decision-making. An easy and free analysis tool is the Internet. Simply search Amazon or Google for a better understanding of your competition.
- Welcome failure. We view it as a “bad word,” but it’s part of Success. And an important one. Vince Lombardi got it right when he said, “If you aren’t making mistakes you aren’t trying hard enough.” After all, how many times did Thomas Edison fail before he succeeded?
- Curb exorbitance. We all know the expression, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And as the previous bullet point states, failure helps us learn. BUT, I do like to make a note that there it is necessary to maintain a balance between the encouragement of innovation and the critical analysis of what is and is not working. Stupid questions may not exist, but bad ideas do. And you need to have the tools and judgment to recognize when you’ve spent too much time or effort on something that isn’t worthwhile. A good decision can be as simple as: stop making the same bad one.
While organizations and environments continue to become more complex and change at rapid speeds, it’s important to adjust your business plan to accommodate these transitions accordingly. Focusing more on Operations can improve the way your business functions, and allowing the decision making process to start at an operational level is an integral part of adapting a more efficient strategy. When decisions are inclusive, they’re more informed. And I think we can all agree that the more informed we are, the better equipped we are to make better decisions.
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