Aligning key system attributes to system outcomes is one of the most important parts of improving the effectiveness and efficiency of your business systems.
Once you’ve identified the desired ultimate outcomes of your business and have broken your business down into systems, you can start aligning the pieces within a system to the desired outcomes of that system.
This is where you will really start finding the individual tasks that you are doing in your business that are costing you time and money. You will also be able to identify other problems in your business that are slowing you down or consuming resources without returning value to your company.
Let’s look at a step-by-step process in more detail. Pick a system in your business that needs help and let’s get to work.
Define the System’s Desired Outcomes
First, you want to make sure that you have defined desired outcomes for the system that you want to improve.
When you think about defining the desired outcomes it’s really about answering the question of why. Why do you want the things this system produces?
Don’t just call out the output that you want. The outputs are not outcomes. The outputs are what your system produces. The Outcomes are why you want the outputs.
Documenting Inputs, Process Steps, and Outputs
Any system runs through a series of processed steps and takes inputs along the way and converts them to outputs.
The inputs are things like employee time, raw materials, and outputs that were created earlier or in other systems. The process steps are the activities that a person or technology does along the way to move through the system. The outputs are the things created by the process steps. As mentioned earlier, it is common for the output of one step to be the input of the next step within a system.
The reason you document these is that in order for you to improve a system you have to understand these pieces to make changes. Outputs and outcomes are created by inputs and processed steps. If you want to get different outputs or different outcomes you need to change the inputs or the process steps.
Now that you have the pieces understood and documented you can start thinking through the place of these pieces in the system.
Are Inputs Needed for Outputs?
Look at each of the inputs that you have and identify their relationship to the output that you’re getting. Oftentimes there is an input or two that were needed in the past but are no longer relevant to the system. Changes were made at some point but the input was not identified as no longer needed and not removed.
These inputs should be removed from the process. Depending on what’s they are, removing them will save you time and/or money.
Are Process Steps Right for Outputs and Outcomes?
Another way to think about your system Is to look at the process steps that you are doing and the relationship between the steps and the outputs. Similar to how you looked at the inputs, you should question each of the processes steps and makes sure that each step is required to get the outputs and outcomes that you want. If you find something that is no longer needed, try and remove it from your process.
Are There Timing Issues?
Another common problem occurs in systems related to timing. Because you require different inputs along the way, sometimes your process gets stopped or delayed because you don’t have the right inputs to move forward.
If we think about a system designed to create traffic, that system is going to be dependent on an ad being created.
If we have all of the other pieces ready to go but are sitting waiting for the ad to get finished, our system can’t function and we won’t be creating value from the system.
You want to look at the system to see if you can adjust the timing of the ad being completed so that the ad is ready to go when needed and you aren’t sitting waiting.
Are There Gaps?
It’s quite common that when you start to do something new in your business, you’re making it up as you go. That’s not a bad thing, and is often the only way to do something, especially if you’ve never done it before.
While this approach is great for getting things started, long term, it can leave gaps in your system that should be addressed.
This is an opportunity to look at the things you’re doing and identify where doing an additional step would give you a positive return.
Sometimes the gaps won’t be obvious until you go through the process of analyzing the system and you might be surprised at what you’re able to see when you go through this exercise.
Make Improvements Where Needed
As you tear your system apart, looking at how each piece exists in your system, you initially just want to take an inventory of possible fixes. Don’t assume you’re going to address anything and everything you find.
It’s also possible that you make the decision to not address certain problems you find in your system. Sometimes problems in your system don’t create a meaningful impact anywhere and would take more time to fix than what it’s worth. This is ok to do and should be done on a case-by-case basis.
Once you’ve got the work prioritized, start making improvements by changing inputs and/or process steps to see different outputs and outcomes.
Remember to change one thing at a time and measure your results so you understand the impact of your changes.
If you’re looking for extra guidance on how to apply this or other tools in your business, you can book a 15 minute call with me for $95 here.
If you have a bigger need, please email me and we can discuss how I can best help you Optimize for Outcomes.