This is the third entry in the mini-series on How To Make Things Work: an Operations periodical aimed at helping you, the reader/entrepreneur/web-wanderer, make “it” work for yourself.
In the last entry, we started into the first step of understanding: Immerse. Now on to the second step: Examine.
Figuratively speaking, after getting your toes wet in the pool of what begs understanding, you now must swim towards what needs to be (better) understood.
While Immerse was about breadth, Examine is about depth. In the Immerse step, you took inventory of all points at issue. In the Examine step, you evaluate why and how the points at issue are of concern and value.
To be effective, examine each point at issue on its own, within the context of the big picture, and in relation to other points at issue. In the case of business/company operations, here are some example starting points:
• trace service delivery and product ends back to their starts
• look into what each staff member does and what goes into doing it
• deduce what each stakeholder and decision-maker cares about — his/her expectations, priorities, pain-points
• identify bottlenecks and mechanisms for quality control
Dive deeper by asking questions. In the case of business/company operations, you can start by asking questions like:
• What comes before and after [a task/responsibility/decision/etc.]?
• What does each staff member do on his/her own and what do they do together?
• What is each staff member and/or department responsible for? Whom do they answer to? Who answers to them? In fulfilling their responsibilities, what does each staff start with and what end do they deliver? How does what they do work with and build on what everyone else is doing?
• How does what each staff member does advance the ultimate end as asserted and upheld by the CEO and/or company mission? Does the CEO have a preference? Who else makes decisions? Whom do you go to for what?
In sum, ask questions, look closely, listen carefully. When it comes to the process of understanding, the second step – Examine – entails delving deeper into how things are and homing in on why they are that way. By immersing yourself in what you are trying to make work, you were able to see, fully, how things are – how things work and why they work that way. By examining what you’ve seen, you will glean insight into how things aren’t working – and set a starting, actionable understanding of how you can make “it” work.
Though the example cases/questions used in this entry pertain to company operations, I stand by the universality/applicability of this process (of making things work) and am happy to discuss and/or offer ideas for other specific instances/applications. Please leave me a comment or shoot me an email if you have any questions or would like to continue the conversation.
Vice President of Operations
Found Media Group