Many moons ago, I was new to managing teams. I was struggling from being relegated down from a ‘top individual performer’ to a ‘newbie manager’. I looked around the organization to see who I could learn from. That is when I first observed how my friend Jack (Today, he is the CEO of a fortune 1000 organization in the mid-west. He is also a musician and pcriptays the guitar in his spare time) managed his teams. He would run his organization and his life like a music orchestra. Everything was done with great ease. He never seemed to be rushed, he was kind in his conversation, organized in his thought, & detailed in his work. Everything about him and his teams seemed to have a rhythm.
I was fascinated and looked into how he was able to achieve this. I asked him to tell me his secret. He said, “It is really simple Harsha…”
“…when you run any organization or project, you have plans that you want to execute. You also have issues that you need to overcome. When I meet an issue, I ask myself “Is this important & urgent? If it is, then I drop everything and take care of it immediately. But if it is not, I find an ‘Operating Rhythm’ in my day, week, month, or year when I can take care of it.”
“What’s an Operating Rhythm?” I asked.
“Oh! Sorry, it is something that I coined from my music background. It just means that every activity that my team or I do should be like a big music orchestra. There is an exact time and exact function for each member in the team. That is the only way to make good music or deliver good products.”
I was not going go away with just this teaser, “Okay, I can see how some of the work that we do, especially planned activity can be run as an Operating Rhythm but what about interruptions, emails, people walking into your office for help? I cannot control that. In fact, look at the sales team, how can you tell a customer please wait for your Operating Rhythm? You have to take it when the customer meets your, right? How do you bring that into an Operating Rhythm?”
“Again, it is quite simple. Just have an operating rhythm at the end of each day for 15 minutes. During this time, you review everything that came at you as an interruption during the day. Just move things around into their natural operating rhythms, for example:
1. Move all email reading into 3 times a day
2. Move customer meetings to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons. I am sure customers will work with you on that.
3. Just leave a note on your door saying, ‘Please visit me between ’11:00 and 11:30′ if it is not urgent’
I am sure you can figure out answers to other trivial imbroglios like this. Look, it really is about finding the right rhythm and seeing what is important and training everyone around you about it
If you see any great sports teams, organizations, people in history, they have all a deep rooted desire to succeed and had built an operating rhythm around it. This enables them to master that one task. They have learned to train the society around them by using Operating Rhythms.”
I am a skeptic. I bought a little black book. Made the following changes,
1. Put all planned repeating activities for myself and my team in buckets of daily operating rhythms, weekly operating rhythms, monthly operating rhythms, & intra day operating rhythms (I divided the day into 4 quarters like a football game) and moved all planned activities into these blocks.
2. Following that, I refrained from answering or attending to questions or requests on these operating tasks outside these Operating Rhythms. This was tough at first and I had to be tactful. I noticed a pattern that most of the interruptions would come from the same people for the same information at different times. Mostly from my management or my customers. My team and I created a set of dashboards to make sure that we updated these every Friday and had it available for them. We trained them in just two weeks flat!
3. While my interrupts reduced greatly I would still get plenty of interrupts. I would ask myself the question “Is this important and urgent?” If not, I would move it to an Operating Rhythm or delegate it.
I tried this practice for one month. Something clicked!!!!!! My projects were showing GREEN, I was more relaxed, & the family was not happy at first but got adjusted to the new rhythms. That is when I had the “Aha!” moment! I had a new system to execute any strategy to success!
In fact, this is the story of how we have created the patent pending Club VA and VA Matrix which uses the Operating Rhythms to Execute your Strategies to success!
There you have it. We have given away the secret to our delivery success! This is what has helped us achieve 5.1 Sigma in quality and nearly 6 sigma in timely delivery again in 2012.
If you need any help with implementing Operating Rhythms or Executing Strategies to Success, please feel free to call anyone of us at Vantage Agora and we would glad to help.
About Vantage Agora
Vantage Agora (VA) is a global provider of back-office solutions, custom IT services and consulting services for companies in the insurance, finance, and healthcare sectors. As a SSAE 16 Type II audited company,Vantage Agora utilizes advanced data processing and quality control systems on a secured network to ensure efficient, comprehensive management of back-office functions such as accounting, financial and administrative tasks. Founded in 2004, Vantage Agora has offices in Cleveland and Dallas.