How to do 15% more with the same people
I recently met with a small-business owner who’s had a particularly troublesome year. An important project was running significantly behind schedule and considerably over budget. His team was tapped out, grumpy and tired, openly complaining about the extra hours they were logging. With no budget to hire, he was overwhelmed and unsure of how to get things back on track.
It’s a problem I’ve seen far too often. It seems there’s always too much work to be done, and not enough resources. The stress that can result from this mismatch often hits hardest when the extra work is strategically critical.
However, such problems can be easily fixed. Just as the average human uses only 10% of their available brain capacity, the average team uses 85% of its people capacity. That leaves 15% just waiting to be discovered and deployed. In fact, when our team has applied this thinking to our many client projects, we’ve almost always found even more in reserve.
The secret lies in getting everyone aligned to the most important initiatives. While this sounds simple, you’d be amazed at how often misalignment occurs. Overlaps (two people doing the same work) are common, as are underlaps—important work doesn’t get done. By finding and eliminating redundant work, resources are freed to tackle underlaps, and the project moves forward exponentially.
Here’s how to find that extra 15% capacity for your project.
Align with senior project leaders
Engage them in a frank, team-based conversation, facilitated by a professional. Review the project strategies to date, agree to move forward only on the activities that matter most to the project’s success, and discard any failed strategies. Ensure the retained strategies are still relevant in today’s business environment.
Align with the project team
Engage the larger team in a series of open, transparent discussions, both strategic and tactical. Ensure that everyone understands what matters most, and why they’re critical to the project’s success. Most importantly, ensure that each individual is crystal-clear on the specific activities he or she needs to do to support the project.
If you’ve done your job and eliminated redundant activities, you will most certainly find new capacity for your team. Redeploy these resources to support the activities that matter most.
I’ve seen this capacity-finding approach work time and again. And, as I explained to my weary business-owner friend, the results always far exceed the alignment effort itself.
One of my clients, a manufacturer of floor-care products, found that extra 15% capacity when he applied this approach to his front-office staff (Sales, Marketing, Finance, and Operations Management). He then redirected these newly liberated human resources to kick-start a major product innovation, resulting in an 8% gain in market share within a year.
Looking for new people capacity to get that special project done?
Try aligning your teams to the initiatives that really matter. You may soon find yourself announcing to everyone that work ends at noon on Friday of the next long weekend. If you’d like help getting started, our strategy experts can help you.