Phil Byrne, from Positive Sparks, recently interviewed me on a wide range of topics. We talk purpose, problem solving and how automation helps grow businesses whilst giving people back time – so we can spend that time with other people…
Total Clothing wanted to involve people from right across the team to streamline their processes, to prepare in advance for another year of major growth. They asked Critical Action to help with building vision, identifying changes and putting a plan into action.
“We worked with many of our team, led by Keith, to identify bottlenecks in our processes and by voting on the most urgent issues, gave everyone a sense of inclusion and buy-in.
It has brought the team so much closer in terms of working towards common goals and also in the way they communicate with each other on an ongoing basis.
We are really thinking differently as a team about the way we operate and this is translating into actions and profitability.
Keith’s no nonsense, practical way of facilitating, managing and ensuring that tasks were completed by all has really helped us overcome some challenging issues and we are moving forward with some exciting times ahead.”
Managing Director, Total Clothing Ltd
I was flicking through some old day-books last week, as I was doing some business plan review work for Critical Action. I came across some notes I made on “what we look for in our people” for use during recruitment and helping clients with interviews.
Here were my three “top picks”:
- Be a miniature force of nature – whether the blast of the hurricane, the constant shift of the tides or the inexorable force of tectonic shift – look for that attitude in someone that says “it will get done”; and look to balance the forces at play across your team to meet all situations.
- Have the humility to listen, learn and share every day – even when we are bringing our own knowledge to bear, we are always learning – new knowledge, new ways of understanding customer needs, new client pressures, new market developments.
- Earn and have the confidence to hold the room – our clients often look to us for leadership and to help them arrive at decisions; to do this well, we need to have done the ground work in the years, weeks, hours and minutes beforehand – and then to share our honest thoughts.
Of course, there are always many other role-specific or “technical” areas to explore – but for me, these come secondary to these top three.
One of the big challenges of delivering a project efficiently and effectively, is to get the right people involved at the right time, doing the right things, without turning it into death by committee.
RACI matrices help to manage this. They’ve come up a lot in conversations we’ve had recently, so I thought a few words on them might be of interest.
RACI is an acronym for Responsible, Accountable, Communicate, Inform.
List major parts of your project in one column, headed “Areas” or similar – and add four further columns for the four RACI headings.
Consider which names to write in each “cell” – the columns for each row:
- Responsible: who will actually do the work which delivers the objective of this area? Can be one or more names
- Accountable: which one person puts their name to this area of the project, signs it off, and ultimately is answerable for it?
- Consult: with whom will you have 2-way dialogue to get the best delivery of this area – executive stakeholders, subject matter experts, and so on – who helps define things or cover gaps in knowledge for example? Can be one or more names.
- Inform: Who needs to be kept abreast of project progress, issues, outcomes and dependencies (like the need for staff training, process change, systems updates, and so on)? Most likely many names, but could be just one.
Once you have defined and agreed the RACI list, make sure people are aware of it, and understand how they fit into it, particularly around Responsible/Accountable (“one name on the ball”).
We sometimes find people in the “Inform” list feel they should be in the “consult” list. If this conversation comes up, we tend to ask what unique knowledge the person brings to need the 2-way conversation, and also seek to get a firm commitment of time they will devote to the Consult work – no commitment = no consulting, in short. That’s not to say that “Informers” can’t contribute to things like initial requirements gathering if that makes sense.
You can also create a RACI matrix with the areas in the left-most column, then people’s names as column headers, with the RACI letters in the “cells” as required – try both formats and see what works best for you. The latter is the more common layout.
We were delighted to receive another “Highly Commended” in the 2013 Business in the Community Regional Awards in June, following our previous Highly Commended last year.
Last year’s commendation was for our business, this year’s commendation was for our MD, Keith Shering, in the Employee Volunteer of the Year category, reflecting his work as chairman of the Peterborough ProHelp group and for the projects he has taken on and delivered. Continue reading
This story from FastCompany.com came in via a LinkedIn update the other day, and I thought it made interesting reading:
Thought provoking – what’s the one single thing everyone in your business needs to do?
We took the week off last week, so that we could head down to the London 2012 Paralympics – which was simply stunning, by the way, and hugely inspirational.
There is just so much I could blog about from that week beyond the obvious sporting endeavour – organisation, good-humour, commitment, achievement, sportsmanship, generosity of spirit – the list goes on and on.
One thing that really did hit home for me though was the changes in attitude that I really believe the Paralympics will have started.
Paralympic sport is a lot about celebrating, challenging and competing in what people can do, not what they can’t do.
What a great way of looking at life in general; and at the people we interact with every day…
This time around, we’ll look at “Planning Improvements” – how to change the way your people do what they do, and how to give them better tools. These are the old classics of “people, process and technology”.
- Commercial Imperative – what’s the case for doing it – the “why”
- Planning Improvements – the what, where, how of action/change
- Taking Action – the who and when to make change happen
Hold on. You’ve only just started – how can you improve!?
Well, we believe you can, and should, make improvements every day. Continue reading