6R Retail

Small Actions that Reduce ‘Organisational Drag’

- Posted: July 10th, 2018

I hate waiting.

I’m bad at queues, being on hold, traffic that’s not moving, and anything else that feels like a waste of time.

Each day we all have good intentions that get broken or missed, often without realising the effect this has on other people.

Being ready to go for a meeting with only a few of the meeting participants in the room is frustrating, and something I put effort into avoiding.

The average company loses more than 20 per cent of its productive power to organisational drag — all the practices, procedures, and structures that waste time and limit output.

This article by Harvard Business Review, “Great Companies Obsess Over Productivity, Not Efficiency” talks about how organisational drag is like a chronic disease, it needs constant management, or it completely overtakes the organisation.

Anything that takes constant management requires discipline and consistency.

Meetings are seen often as a necessary evil, something that many people ‘love to hate’ they complain about them running over time or being disjointed, and off topic but then contribute to this problem by running late themselves and introducing items that are not relevant to the discussion.

I read a lot of advice that emphasises the importance of forming good habits. Some good habits are considered ‘cornerstone behaviours’ and in life, cornerstones that are advocated for are:

  • exercise,
  • eating well, and
  • getting enough sleep.

If these are the cornerstone habits of making stuff work in life and health, then when it comes to organisations you can gauge a lot from behaviours like meeting culture and the state of common areas.

Consider ‘meeting approach’ one of the cornerstone habits of an organisation.

In projects, it’s important to establish good meeting habits early in the engagement with clients. I consider it one of the small things that we do that builds trust and consistency.

Being on time and ready for meetings is something that contributes to the time we spend together being productive and useful for everyone.

If I start on time and finish on time (or early) and participants come prepared with what they’re supposed to do and make themselves ready for the conversation, we get a lot done.

To me, this is about creating a good working relationship. And if I stuff up, I own it and make every effort not to do that again.

Small behaviours have a ripple effect.

A project participant recently told me “I’ve have been more prompt generally since you’ve been here!” She was talking about just work. She has taken me seriously on starting meetings on time and meeting deadlines and it has spread to other aspects of her work and life too.

Small habits make a difference.

Showing up on time and being prepared for the conversation is a good cornerstone habit to put effort into in your projects and business.

What other good habits make a difference for you? I’d love to hear them!

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