Process & Accountability– do you have both?

Diane MacPhee |

Identify the Process - White Board - Weekly Meetings - Scorecard - Accountability

... herein lies the secret to Process.

I have often thoroughly enjoyed using the phrase "organized chaos". Most businesses will resonate with that being a fair description of their office environment. Yet this same office will state the crucial need for process in much of what they do. So why are we struggling so much with having true organization and process in our lives?

My contention is that when viewed in its entirety, the necessary steps in getting organized become overwhelming. My readers of this column may be the owner of a firm, a key employee, a solo, or part of a team who may or may not be virtual. None of your differences matter when it comes to how best to approach process.

Oftentimes, Summer affords a bit more slack in the pace. Now may be the perfect time to make a commitment to a better process in your office.

First identify three core processes to be fully choreographed by year end. Keep it simple and concise. Initially, you must brainstorm together what would be the most impactful process to document. Do it in the style of an " eMyth revisited" format. If you have not read this gem, make sure you read the revised version versus the original. Like many books, the updated edition is much improved over the original printing.

Pretend you are selling your firm and turning over the keys to new ownership. How do you explain your most essential processes to them? For the solos out there - brainstorm with a colleague, study group, a respected friend and/or your coach. The point is that you become capable of describing how you do what you do for whom in a clear and systematic fashion. Be honest. Are you there yet?

Respect the fact that we only have approximately 105 business days or so left in the year when you consider holidays etc. Obviously, a fair proportion of time is claimed by direct client service, rightfully so. Client service is always a key core process. What are the other key functions to be included? My experience tells me staff mentoring, technical execution of financial planning including robust tax planning and investment planning. Round out other key processes with marketing and the financial oversight of revenue growth/expenses.You may have other areas more important to you. The focus on what your game plan will be is best achieved by a strategic planning day. Ideally this is held away from the office, no phone and email distractions. Many dismiss strategic planning as an essential exercise. I am not in that camp. I am a fan of "Sharpen the saw". Save hours and hours down the road. Done right - this is a way to cultivate an engaged staff. 


Once you identify your three most important processes to create, move on to documenting them in a public "white board" located in a break room or a back office never visited by clients. This is a great spot for a large visual for all to galvanize around. 


Your weekly  meetings must hold a level of quality, focus and intention that correlates to your white board. Keep everyone engaged. Do not waste time or ramble on outside issues. Stay on point. To this end have the right person be the one to form the agenda and facilitate this meeting. Keep it within one hour ideally. 


Decide on what the "Scorecard" looks like for each individual including the owner. This scorecard is a point of reference for performance to be measured on a weekly basis at the team meeting. Put only the key areas on the scorecard. These areas will offer the greatest impact toward the successful execution of your three key processes. Revisit your performance regarding your own scorecard in front of the rest of the team. This action provides the opportunity for genuine  accountability. Perhaps partner up one on one to hold each other to your goals.


So... are you ready to lay the foundation in August to hit the ground running in September? The fall season is my favorite. It is crisp. It is wake up and smell the coffee time. Renew your commitment to serious action knowing the year end is approaching fast.

Follow my five step process:

1. I dentify Process(es) - Spend enough time on this one and fully commit to each one.

2. White Board - Document in clear, specific and fully defined terms for all to see.

3. Weekly  Meeting - the most important piece to honor and keep at high quality levels.  

4.  Scorecard - the report at weekly meetings to track and monitor results of performance.

5.  Accountability - What and how will you circle back on one another?


Of course there is a lot more to each of these pieces. If you  want this, and I know that most of you do - you can do this! I am pulling for you. In my next column I will take you to a level above this one where we head toward year end fully assuming you have the above plan in motion. 


Enjoy these days of summer balanced with a mindset to reenergize your firm. Have fun with friends and family. Get your fitness up to where it should be and oh yes, rest up and gear up. You have a very important 105 days coming up. Use them well.

Take care and be well.