Shirlaws UK : Keeping the main thing the main thing!

As CEOs of small and medium sized businesses, most of us have had the experience of being so firmly embedded in the day to day issues of running the business that it is difficult to fund sufficient time to grow the business.


We get stuck in the detail.  For many of us, we have created a belief that we have to manage everything, because no one will do it as well as we do.


The challenge, if you ever want to have your business deliver the wealth and leisure you set out to achieve, is to find a new way of working.  Really successful entrepreneurs - who have built vast and complex businesses but still seem to have time for ballooning and boat racing - have learnt to do this instinctively.


You have to find a way of working that manages your business not in content but in context.


Context is the higher filter which brings meaning to the content of your company.  When you have a clear filter - a reason "Why" you are in business or "Why" things need to be done a certain way - it provides a common language within the business process.  It gives clarity to all the content, and to your team so aligned decision making and understanding can occur without your constant input.


Context - A Fruity Example

Imagine a conversation between three directors of a business.  Let's imagine the discussion is about fruit: which is the "best" fruit between apples, bananas and oranges.  Without any context to give meaning to the word "best", imagine how long that conversation could last and how much energy, management time and focus it could use up.


Now imagine the same conversation if a clear context of "Vitamin C" was agreed.  How long would the conversation have to last?


It is a simple analogy, but how many of us have the experience of management or team meetings where issues become muddled and decisions difficult to reach?  We are arguing about the "best" option, without asking "Why" one option would be better for our business than the others.


The context in which you choose to run your business is, of course, down to you and what you are seeking to achieve.  As an example, we are working with a fast growing business that has chosen to work within the context of "Learning".


Having this context supports decision making in how the business treats its people, takes decisions and invests money.  The result is an ambitious and creative business where mistakes are not a cause for blame but for learning and where the team is motivated and productive.  It's also a great place to work.


What to do now

For the next week, when you make any decision in your business (even the small ones) ask yourself "Why did I decide that way?"  When you are communicating decisions, communicate the "Why" as well as the "What"