If you crave more freedom, you’ll have to build a structure to accommodate it
A good friend of mine works in healthcare and has been busy recently setting up a new business. Like many of us, she’s in plate-spinning mode, desperately trying to juggle her professional and personal commitments in order to achieve her goals. She asked for my input and I gave her the best advice I could: to establish structure and routine, supported by systems and processes – it’s the single most effective way of meeting your objectives while creating the freedom and space you need to live a good life.
Learning from medical professionals
One of the best ways to illustrate my point is by comparing your business’s transit to a patient’s journey through the healthcare system. A patient begins by undergoing a diagnosis, followed by a treatment plan and prognosis. The business equivalent here is to start by analysing your current position, proposing desired outcomes and prescribing a strategy to enable you to reach your goals.
In much the same way as a medical team would break the treatment plan into assignable actions – medication, medical procedures, physiotherapy etc – we also need to create a task or action plan that details each action required to achieve the stated objectives. We usually make 90-day action plans but you can chose to work on weekly or monthly plans, too.
An action plan doesn’t work without checks and balances, however. You need to have a way of measuring results so you can quickly see whether you’re on track for success. In our medical exemplar, the healthcare professionals will probably be monitoring physical responses – blood pressure, heart rate and such. In a business setting, we’d employ key performance indicators (KPIs) to provide data that will tell us how the business is doing and what, if anything, needs adjusting to ensure the outcomes we want.
Making it work
Obviously, it’s all well and good having a plan but what makes it work in practice is having the discipline and dedication necessary to give it some propulsion. In our hospital scenario, the patient would, of course, be wholly reliant on the assiduity of the healthcare team to see his treatment plan through to its (hopefully happy) conclusion. Even then, its success would be reliant on a range of systems and processes designed to minimise the margin for error – no-one would expect a nurse to remember whether or not the patient had received his medication without referring to a written or electronic record, for instance.
Similarly, businesses – of all sizes – need their own processes and procedures to support their strategy. And while healthcare professionals have the added impetus of the responsibility of a human life in their hands, it’s fair to say that business owners hold the key to something almost as valuable – their own future.
Leap of faith
Often, introducing more structure goes against the grain – especially for those of us who consider ourselves independent thinkers. But putting procedures into place not only helps us to create the business and lifestyle we crave, it helps us to get there faster and with less heartache.
Robert Collier puts it this way: ‘Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in, day-out.’ I couldn’t agree more.
My friend contacted me last week with some great news. ‘I’ve just had a massive penny-drop moment,’ she said. ‘Everything you told me about structure and routine – it works! 😉
Let me know if it works for you, too.