When we're looking to equip for growth, we're trying to reduce constraints and resource for effective execution. Specifically, here we're talking about how to support these initiatives by ensuring pressure is in the right places.
Ernest Hemingway said, “Courage is grace under pressure”. I think that is a great combination, because it does take courage to apply pressure in the right areas, yet there is a measure of grace required to activate this in the right way.
The frustration here can be that there is not enough pressure in the areas that it should be. We all have parts of our businesses that are not functioning well, that could be people or processes. This will then impact other areas of the business. What we want is everyone functioning in the right way, with an even distribution of pressure so that the whole machine works well.
This is as important for people as it is for processes and systems. If you get this right and the workload is evenly spread, the whole organisation can grow well because your pressure points are evenly distributed. If you don't get this right, then certain parts of the organisational ecosystem will not function well and limit the potential of the whole.
The principle here is that to support growth, you need to understand where your pressure points are, and make sure you're placing pressure in the right places.
It's a bit like tyre pressures; too much and the tyres will not function well and could even burst under high loading. If the pressure is too low, they are ineffective and again could fail. The pressure needs to be appropriate to the environment to be at its optimum.
Here's an example on a larger scale. Gloria Jeans Coffee’s business in Australia failed to adapt in a changing marketplace. An emphasis on increasing revenues caused pressure to be applied to the support office to deliver profitability. As the business model became less effective the response was to increase pressure on the Franchise Partners, through increased fees and supply costs. Whilst this was not necessarily unreasonable the pressure was in the wrong place.
When we changed the emphasis to creating a sustainable business model and to increasing the profitability of the average Franchise Partner, the pressure shifted to the support office and to how effective and efficient it was. This changed everything.
The average Franchise Partner profitability increased by 25% in 18 months. Pressure was in the right place, which caused us to restructure, renegotiate and rethink our entire support infrastructure. It’s amazing what can happen when you focus on the right areas and pressure is applied as it should be.
Take a moment to think about your organisation. Is the pressure in the right places? Where is the organisation most likely to fail? Is the pressure on that part of the business unreasonable? Is the pressure evenly distributed across the organisation allowing it to grow?
Pressure points shift, markets change, and situations are dynamic. So, the support mechanism of pressure needs to be reviewed continuously, to ensure the pressure points provide support, to equip the business for growth.