“The major blind-spot in want-ads is an assessment that we need to increase the number of people engaged in production, rather than increasing the production of value through the identification and elimination of waste. One thing contributing to this waste is that many organizations have yet to fully define, clarify, focus, or generate commitment to what it is that actually constitutes value.”
At any point in time, there are hundreds of thousands of want-ads. As a set, they are requesting people to come in, perform work, and solve problems. So far, this makes sense… employers are looking for skilled employees.
What is conspicuously absent from any ad that I have seen is a request for somebody to come in and build the capacity of the organization to solve its own problems. I’m not just talking about somebody to give a “training” seminar or “how to” session, but rather, somebody to genuinely increase the capacity of the organization to deliver results of value to customers by means of reducing breakdowns and making bigger promises within the organization.
If you think about it, anybody who can reduce breakdowns has the ability to add to the available resource pool without adding headcount. However, that alone would not be enough, as work will consistently expand to fill the time and resources available. Merely stopping one activity to create space for another will not increase capacity significantly. Instead, the next step is to identify from among the vast number of things being done, which of them are actually adding value and which are not.
Better still is to identify what changes would create the most value – either through present activities or new ones – and to start promising delivery on that new, added value. Organizations often don’t do this precisely because they see their currently limited capacity as a barrier to doing so, or because they simply don’t know HOW to direct their actions based on a grounded assessment of what is really producing value and satisfaction for their customers.
Many organizations are blind to the degree to which their current capacity issues keep them from making bigger promises, rather than making bigger promises to deliver value as an impetus to address their capacity breakdowns. To this last point, simply hiring more people is only one method of addressing capacity, and probably not the most effective one. Hiring additional people is part of the “tyranny of more.”
Another approach focuses less on “the tyranny of more,” and instead looks at the underlying issues of what we are committing to and why. It asks the question “for what purpose” are we engaging in all this activity? Of what we are doing, what is actually adding value, and what is merely the noise of activity masquerading as productivity?
The major blind-spot in want-ads is an assessment that we need to increase the number of people engaged in production, rather than increasing the production of value through the identification and elimination of waste. One thing contributing to this waste is that many organizations have yet to fully define, clarify, focus, or generate commitment to what it is that actually constitutes value.
If “value” is being defined merely by financial metrics, then the problem is doubly challenging. Financial gain is actually a positive byproduct of creating things that are valued by customers. If those customers value it enough, then they part with their purse in exchange for that which is of greater value. So the key question for any organization goes right back to defining what constitutes value.
To the extent that that is true, an organization’s “value proposition” is not merely marketing fluff… it is the foundation of its very existence.
Here’s the ad I would love to see.
- The ideal candidate will enter the organization as an expert observer of systems, process, waste, and value.
- S/he will systematically increase the capacity of various teams to make bigger promises and deliver greater value as assessed by our customers.
- S/he will identify and resolve the root cause of routine breakdowns within the organization, allowing us to increase our ability produce satisfaction with fewer complaints, greater predictability, and stable or reduced resources.
- The candidate should also be able to lead or facilitate the discussion of what new possibilities to focus on, potentially even changing the rules of the games we play as part of doing business in our industry.
- Must be a team player, by which we mean one capable of facilitating the non-discretionary conversations required to create effective teams, rather than merely participating on them.
If you’re interested in learning more about specific skills you can develop to increase capacity within your organization, then please sign-up on the right for free access to additional training material to help you make bigger promises and deliver results of value to your customers.
Also useful: Seth Godin: Missing from your job description