Business Bibles Belong
So, Where do you start?
Every company must have a “bible”, a book or other set of documents that set forth policies to follow, procedures to execute and a doctrine of how to conduct business. This creates a cohesive culture. If the bible is in place it should be reviewed. If it is not yet written, it needs to be designed. When it has been completed, it needs to be easily available and accessible.
In my experience, companies that created policies and procedures, created them at a time in their history that no longer aligns with their current needs or reality . Any growth in personnel or departments, or even a reduction, demonstrates the evolution of the industry. Potential new regulations also result in a change being warranted. To affect that change, a company review and analysis must be conducted, and the bible renewed.
What Do You Do?
Are you running your business by default, or are you running it by design? If you have designed your business, have you documented your design, or have you got it in your brain, but not in written form?
The most effective businesses not only know what they do, but how to do it. It has been said the most successful businesses could have the CEO disappear for six months and no one would notice. Why? Because the systems are in place, everyone knows their job and there is a bible to turn to when issues arise.
I am not advocating disappearing CEOs, I am advocating a resource other than a singular individual. In operating a business there are so many aspects in addition to using your High Impact High Income skills, your given strengths and talents.
Who is responsible for:
◾ Goal Setting?
◾ Purchasing and Vendor Relations?
◾ Customer Service?
◾ Accounting and Bookkeeping?
◾ Human Resources?
◾ Internal Communications?
You need to know what you do and how to do that, but you also need to know that the other elements of business operations are being addressed by the best talent, so you can gain comfort in company continuity.
Anticipating Chaos, Creating Calm
As you know, there’s a lot more to a construction company than hammering a nail, laying a pipe or welding metal. As much as things go right, things go wrong as well.
When everything on a job, no matter how small or how large, runs smoothly, there is a reason for that. There is also a reason that problems arise.
One of the goals of any business, should be to create a history, to document. This serves to enhance the operation, and the operations. It is not an accident that companies survive generation after generation. It is not an accident that some construction companies are successful beyond their own expectations.This usually grants more access to funding resources. Of course, it is also not accidental that companies collapse.
It has been proven that failure to plan is planning to fail.
Whether your company is less than one year old, or has been in existence for generations you know how you operate. When a process or procedure works, write it down and duplicate the scenario. When things don’t work, how can you prevent it from happening again? Figure that out and write it down.
The Business bible is a set of policies, procedures, instructions, guidelines and resources. Stories should be included to simplify abstract concepts as well as provide examples of successful instances or alternative results. While it is difficult to anticipate every possibility, it is far easier to anticipate probabilities.
Details, Details, Details
No business has ever made money by creating bibles (unless of course you are a lawyer), but there have been great losses by not having them in place.
Think for just a moment if your CEO, that may even be you, is out of the business for six months. Could your business survive? What plans and contingencies do you have in place?
Whatever time is spent in your business should be classified as either compensable or non-compensable. This is true whether you have a product, a service, or a hybrid of the two. There is also your Return On Investment, ROI. By investing time into creating your bible you are achieving great benefit for your future.
As your business grows, you bring new people into your business. If you or someone in your business had to spend time over and over again repeating the same training information you would be spending uncompensable time and receive little or even no ROI.
If however you had a bible that you can provide, the amount of time would be limited. Furthermore, the new person to your business, the person you just trusted to further your mission, would know that you trust them by providing your bible. Not every circumstance requires the delivery of each chapter and verse, yet the relevant teachings need to be received, reviewed, and relied upon.
For instance, laborers may not need to know the specifics of asset allocation, but there should be specific materials available for each department to conduct their job successfully. An understanding of how each part builds the whole can be empowering for workers at all levels.
It is better to Be Prepared, rather than Be Perplexed.
For all the challenges that we have seen in 2020, there has never been a better time in history to embrace diversity. Just a few decades ago the only bibles that were available were bound catalogues or loose leaf books filled with three hole punched papers.
Today they can be created and produced electronically with password protected access, delivered via video with the ability to demonstrate both the right way and the wrong way.
Ongoing training can be live either in house or through expert vendors. Assessments are available for personality profiles, project completions, and commendations or complaints. The data that is received through these processes should be used to enhance the operations of your company. Your CMC Workforce is an excellent resource.
Businesses cannot be run in ivory towers, feedback from employees, contractors and customers is crucial to continuity. While the only limit to smart operational mandates is your imagination, whatever is concluded, should be concisely stated in your bible.
Monitoring and Malleability
When your bible has been prepared and disseminated, it must be consistent with your business. Sometimes the best laid plans become the worst imaginable nightmares. People are not perfect and neither are businesses.
Just because, “that’s the way we always have done it”, does not mean that is the best way to do it today. In all businesses I have owned, I have expected my employees to make mistakes, just not the same one twice. A mistake demonstrates creativity and initiative. Carelessness on the other hand is unacceptable. Of course if a mistake is made, demonstrate integrity, own it and correct it.
When there is a fail, it must be considered a First Attempt In Learning.
The best bible is a current bible.
You always want to strive for greater success, and in building a business there is growth in learning. Your operational mandates are established through continued successful results. As technological and safety advances improve, those improvements should be the new standard, captured in your bible for all to learn from.
For example, the mandated clothing and gear of just a few years ago have been improved. Hard hats are stronger and more comfortable, gloves are more durable, goggles are more diverse. These are the new protocols. At the beginning of 2020 the wearing of face masks wasn't a concept in the imagination of any safety leaders, now they are the new normal.
Listen to your business, and in turn your business should listen to you.
Review, Reassess and Respond (AAR = After Action Reports)
Does your business now require a major operational overhaul, or does it just require some tweaks?
Can the project you completed last year be completed in the same way this year?
What are your Strengths and Weaknesses?
What are your Opportunities; what are your Threats?
Conduct a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat) analysis and adjust as necessary.
The Blue Angels, the Navy pilots, are known for their precision in maneuvers thousands of feet in the air. After every mission they conduct a detailed debrief. This attached link, four minutes in length, is worth the time spent to watch.
The excruciating detail the Blue Angels undergo, demonstrates not only their strive for perfection, but actually understanding a failure in their plan or execution could create tragic results. Conducting a debrief in your business is a worthy exercise to determine your future success and guide you to focus on that success. Following the debrief, prepare or update your Business bible.
With that in place, you are another step closer so you can Conceive Believe Achieve all you have dreamt of.
Success Facilitator; Jeff Schwartz after receiving his BA in Communications from SUNY, received his JD in San Diego, CA. After a successful legal career on both coasts spanning over 30 years, he established CBA, Conceive Believe Achieve, a business consulting company with an emphasis on Operations. He is also an experienced author and speaker.
Jeff has started and sold five companies of his own, and has consulted with over 300 businesses. His knowledge is industry agnostic covering business large and small, public and private, products and services, as well as construction. He has held positions of leadership in political and non- profit organizations. Through CBA, he has also served as the President and COO of diverse businesses.