Hiya! I have another delayed post today, but let me get straight into the matter.
Do you know that an entrepreneur can add value to his enterprises by viewing and managing the business as work in progress? Do you know that managing an enterprise at whatever stage as work in progress is beneficial? Of course I know you will tell me that since business is a going concern and is meant to be sustainable, the idea of work-in-progress here is absolute nonsense. Isn’t this the case? The point I’m trying to drive home is the avoidance of the dangerous habit, attitude or mentality that some entrepreneurs adopt thinking they have reached the zenith. I mean that destructive sense of accomplishment that triggers the start of regression.
Though work in progress has other meanings in the business world, I want to focus on the viewpoint of unfinished project. Work in progress means unfinished business. It means something still being developed, and is incomplete. So, what I’m meaning in this article is that every entrepreneur, at whatever stage of the enterprise, should view and manage his business as something incomplete but in development. The enterprise is ever an unfinished business, and once you start thinking that you have finished and reached your destination, you are at a dangerous point. Do you understand what I mean?
So, let’s quickly run through my points to justify my line of thoughts above.
- Good understanding of stages of growth of an enterprise. When you have a good understanding of the different stages of growth of your business, you are in the position to make the right decisions. This is similar to someone working on a project, with definite guidelines and performance benchmarks. The needs of an enterprise that is just starting business are not the same with that of an enterprise at rapid growth stage, or that of an enterprise that is already mature. I hope you understand what I’m meaning. A good understanding of where you are and what you need to do to reach the next level normally adds value to your enterprise planning and operation.
- Goals and targets to attain. Each stage of work in progress or a project has its specific goals and objectives. When you view your enterprise as work in progress, you will set for your business multiple goals and objectives at different stages. For the specific goals and targets you have at any one moment, you work and aim at achieving them before moving to the next. This provides internal motivation that drives productivity and performance. All these create value that is beneficial to your business.
- Input and effort required. When you have work in progress or something incomplete and in the process of development, you certainly know that you need more resources and effort to move on to completion. This guides you in planning for timely and sufficient resources. Don’t you agree with me? The reverse is true when you start thinking you have reached your destination. Continuous mobilization of resources adds value to your business. Whether you are expanding, or developing and introducing new products into the market, or restructuring to reposition your business in the market place, readily available resources will always be very handy. This is a big advantage of the work in progress thinking.
- Production process towards completion and finalization. Entrepreneur, closely connected or related to the aspect of inputs and effort required for your work in progress, is the actual process of production or conversion. Now, for an enterprise this production and conversion process is far bigger than the normal production process. This process comprises the wider business development agenda for your enterprise. This process more relates to the wider business growth and transformation agenda that you drive over the years. Of course, if you are one of those lazy entrepreneurs who like and work towards remaining small, then this big agenda is simply grammar with little meaning to you. Don’t you think so? Business development agenda is a value creating and enabling agenda, which is always beneficial to your enterprise.
- In-building quality along the way. Now, there is a wise saying that quality is built in and not added in. I explained this point in one of my blogs regarding quality. Possibly you need to search for this blog post and read it. Viewing your enterprise as work in progress means considering opportunities to build in quality in your enterprise. This is not simply quality of your products and services, but quality in the entire system. You might already be aware that many business certification programs do not just focus on quality of the product or service, but rather quality of systems, procedures, methodologies etc. Are you following me? So, what I’m saying is that when you have work in progress, you can build quality into that work in progress before you finish it. Now, transform that thinking into your entire enterprise! Ok?
- Avoiding complacency. My dear entrepreneur, are you aware of the very dangerous feeling and thinking of having arrived? By the way, some of the very big and mighty enterprises that became extinct had this mentality at some point. Complacency makes you take the market and customers for granted. It makes you take new product development as a waste of time and resources. It makes you start taking your human capital for granted, etc. This is not the case when your mindset knows that you are far away from your destination. In fact, you can assume that your destination keeps changing positions and is moving ahead. This keeps you transforming and yearning. In this process, you are creating and adding value to your enterprise. You are thinking ahead.
- The need for continuous improvement – the Japanese way. Another value that you can create in your enterprise through the work in progress thinking is continuous improvement. This is also one way of addressing the complacency we mentioned above. Isn’t this correct? Don’t blame me for always referring to this continuous improvement agenda the Japanese like so much. If you don’t like it, that is your business. Work in progress is opportunity for improvement, not only in quality as mentioned above, but processes, procedures, input etc. Don’t these create and deliver value for your enterprise Mr. Entrepreneur? Come on!
- Change is the only permanent thing in business. The dynamic business world demands for reflection, review and modification. I don’t think I need to over-emphasize this point. Do I? Work in progress requires change, and change is the only permanent thing. Enterprises that are constantly changing are constantly adding value, in most cases. Of course we do not rule out some daft entrepreneurs who just introduce change for the sake of it.
- Think and rethink. Finally, enshrined in some of the above points of change, building quality in, continuous improvement etc. is the fundamental issue of thinking and rethinking. These days many people simply use the phrase ‘thinking out of the box’. Despite this, some people still continue thinking within the box. Others even make their box so tight and secure that exit becomes impossible, and hence they can never think out of the box. Basically, when you are working at eventually accomplishing something, you usually make better use of your brain resources, unlike someone who has already accomplished. This obviously creates value for your business.
I guess I need to get going now. But before I sign off let me say this. Whatever level of accomplishment you have reached in your business, or whatever stage you are at, always treat your enterprise as work in progress – something yet to be completed; something still to be developed. I believe you will come back and tell me the value created in your business by this approach. Ok?
The Wise Entrepreneur