5th July 2017

Routine Will Set You Free

As a business, any business grows, it necessarily becomes more complex. More people mean more relationships, more channels, more products, more opinions all add to, and often multiply, the complexity and one of the challenges that very quickly faces the owner or leader of a growing business is how to master that complexity.

Often the style of the entrepreneur in growing the business would have been to be very reactive, very responsive and able to tackle whatever opportunity or challenge the business threw up, as and when they occurred.

The fact is that this style is probably diametrically opposed to the style necessary to tame the complexity of a growing business. This is only one of the change challenges that faces business people as their business grows. A classic case of what got you here, won’t get you there.

One of the major levers we have in the battle against complexity is routine and the mantra that ‘routine will set you free’ is well justified. The opposite of routine is chaos, or random, ad hoc or panic, none of which are formulas for success in the long run.

One of the strongest routine patterns in a business is the meeting rhythm. This has been likened to the heartbeat of a business. The alternative to regular, short, effective and necessary meetings is to hold them on an ad hoc basis. This probably means that they simply never get held. Getting the diaries of your most important people together can be a nightmare, often meaning that by the time the meeting can be convened, the reason has now become a full blown panic. Meaning that either we never get the key players together or that whenever we do we are in a crisis. Hardly the way to organise the smooth running of the machine that we call our business.

However unappetising it may sound, one of the most simple ways to become efficient and effective is to establish healthy and productive routines in your business. Invoicing routines, bill payment routines, meeting routines, reporting routines, communication routines will all help to diminish the panic and to increase the rhythmic efficiency of the business, and because most of the business is running routinely, efficiently and effectively in a kind of counter intuitive way that allows more time for the flexibility and flair to flourish.

If you think of the performing arts, for example, the great improvised solos in jazz or rock performances are only possible because someone is keeping the rhythm, the beating thread to which the soloist can return. It is this underlying rhythm that connects all the pieces and prevents great improvisation from sounding like a musical mess.

How much reliable routine is present in your business to set you free, or is the underlying feature of the way the business is run, one of panic, crisis and firefighting?