Over the past 20 years, I have advised more than 120 companies, not for profit or government organizations of various sizes and corporate cultures in different sectors. As a consultant in strategic marketing and business planning, I’ve had a privileged vantage point from which to observe their business.
Given the nature of these assignments, very often I had the opportunity to look at the overall business operations including, but not limted to, talking with senior managers, the leadership team,  analyzed various data about the corporate performance, interviewed customers, looked at the products and services,  analyzed the current plans and the financial results.  You get a pretty good idea what’s going on in the organizxation when look at things from the outside in and you have the wide range of experiences from many other organizations and know how things should look like in an ideal world.
Over the years, I have learned five key principles of business:

1. Leadership sets the tone for success – or failure – of an enterprise

If there is dysfunction in the way an enterprise operates, if morale is poor, if communication and clarity of purpose is absent, point to the top of the house – the chief executive officer and his or her executive team.

The CEO must create the conditions that motivate and inspire or conversely, disconnect and discourage, a company’s highest-valued assets and resources, its people.

2. The company’s strategy must be clear and easily understood

General mission or strategy charters that include language such as “We will be the best” or “We will achieve high growth” are not effective.

Amazon’s vision is a good example of articulating scale, scope and vision: “We seek to be Earth’s most customer-centric company for four primary customer sets: consumers, sellers, enterprises and content creators.”

3. Communicate an integrated view of how your company adds value

In many cases, there is a lack of understanding of how all the activities that take place in a company or organization are linked or interdependent with each other.

It’s fascinating to be conducting a workshop in a company where people have worked together for many years, only to find out there was a task or work routine that didn’t need to be performed, or could have been changed to make the next step more efficient.

Engage and encourage employees so they know what they do can to help others in the company.

4. Key performance indicators should drive wanted behaviour

Key performance indicators are required in every business to be able to “unemotionally” track performance, but they need to be aligned with customers’ measurement and make sense to people in the business.

We once worked in a company that had over 50 indicators. When we investigated further we found they did not line up to their customers’ tracking statistics, the effort to compile the measurements was taking two full-time people, and senior management didn’t necessarily believe or utilize them.

Design believable and accurate measurements to drive results and behaviour. Less is more.

5. Business systems must help your people, not slow them down

In spite of technological advances over the past 30 years, you would be shocked at how many companies – even large global brands – have spent millions of dollars on technology and business systems and are underutilizing their investment. This is usually seen where, in trying to get the job done, people create workarounds and “shadow systems,” standalone and non-integrated spreadsheets, time-wasting routines, and multiple system entries.

The root cause in many instances is that the system and interdependent processes were never designed properly to help the users. Typically, after the project goes live, resources to help drive better performance, training and continued improvement are cut from the budget.

As basic and pragmatic as these principles may be, keeping an approach simple and easy to understand is also critical. As in the words of Leonardo Da Vinci: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”

If you want to improve your organization, making it more effective and efficient, bringing in an unbiased outsider’s view, you can contact Peter Kallai, President at [email protected].