Now what? We are experiencing a major sales slump, the contracts we are winning have razor thin margins that we agreed to do just to win the business, customer satisfaction ratings are slipping, our employees feel disconnected and are leaving for other firms; we just can’t seem to catch a break. Instead of progress we are just circling the drain, wearing out the team and wasting time trying to address everything at once. 

The scenario described above is one I see often as an executive consultant. Leaders with great intent choose to address every problem with the objective to make it ‘better’. But often they are going off intuition about what ‘better’ means, not really taking time to measure the current state. Just the feeling that anything different has got to be better than what is happening now.

This approach is translated to teams in a ‘2-minute’ drill sort of way.  Just go do something and tell me what you did later. When later comes leadership is perplexed by why nothing is improving.

People are taking action and are busy, so why no advancements? It is because no one knows what the top priority ought to be.  There is no directional alignment of efforts. Each person is left to determine that on their own based on what they think is right. But there is a systematic method to assess the health of your business that naturally identifies the bottleneck that is limiting growth, the Business Hierarchy of Needs (BHN). 

How the evaluation works:

1. Review five core attributes at each business level (sales, profit, order, impact and legacy) to determine if the need is met or not,

2. Find the unmet need at the lowest level of the BHN,

3. Decide how to meet that need by selecting a fix that is clearly described with an objective statement, measures of success, a means for evaluating the impact on a regular basis and nurturing of the fix through basic change management techniques, and

4. Repeat steps 1-3 for the remaining unmet needs.

With discipline, structure and decisiveness we can find a way to calm the chaos by focusing on what matters most. Do you know what the most critical unmet need is in your business?