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What if everything you thought you knew about productivity was wrong?
That’s a question author and small business coach Mike Michalowicz faced several years ago.
He met New York-based productivity expert Chris Winfield, who revealed he was quitting the productivity industry.
Michalowicz is the author of Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself and Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine, as well as several other books.
He specializes in helping solopreneuers and small business owners succeed. Before writing Clockwork, Michalowicz wanted to scale up his business.
Believing greater productivity was the answer, Michalowicz pressed Winfield for ”the secret sauce” that would help him get things done.
“[Chris] looked me square in the eyes and said, ‘Mike, productivity is shit.’”
Winfield summarized the problem many productive entrepreneurs—and even executives—face.
“The more productive we are, the more we’re able to compress within a short time period,” Michalowicz said.
But Winfield described what happens to an entrepreneur who crams even more work into their day through productivity hacks. According to Michalowicz, he said:
We actually put ourselves in a very precarious situation. One problem, one unexpected roadblock in the day, and the whole day is ruined. And sadly that’s the case of many entrepreneurs.
Stop Playing the Superhero
Michalowicz set out to find a better way of working and discovered entrepreneurs need to shun personal productivity for organizational efficiency.
That means entrepreneurs must stop playing the role of a superhero who solves every problem in their business.
“Superheroes are kind of jerks,” said Michalowicz. ”If Batman or Superman doesn’t swoop in and save the day, mankind is going to be destroyed. So we’re highly dependent upon the superheroes. And they effectively disable our military or army or citizens to defend themselves.”
The same problem occurs in small business when the owner or CEO decides to solve every problem for his or her team. He said,
We swoop in and save the business yet again. We fight off that competitor. We save that client that vows to leave us. We save that employee who’s disgruntled. And the business becomes disarmed and disabled from doing this kind of work.
Michalowicz proposes a business can run like clockwork if the owner and team embrace four stages of work.
Stage One: Doing
A business owner should spend up to 80% of their time doing high-value work crucial to the business. A lawyer, for example, may write legal contracts or a copywriter may create a sales page for a client.
“Invoicing, marketing, all those things are the infrastructural requirements for the delivery of that service. That’s all doing work,” said Michalowicz.
Stage Two: Deciding
At the next level, a business owner decides he or she can’t do it all themselves, so they hire an assistant, bookkeeper or even a lawyer.
They should spend 2% of their time deciding.
According to Michalowicz, at this level, the manager says to an employee, ”Go do invoicing, or go do the legal work.”
Stage Three: Delegating
Although the business owner should enable their teams to succeed, their real job is to delegate the outcome rather than the task to employees or freelancers. They should spend 8% of their time delegating.
Some new hires from the previous step might return with questions like, “How should I do this?” or, “When should I do this?”
The owner, rather than saying, “I want to you to prepare our invoices,” could say,
It’s important that we bill timely and accurately, and I want you to understand why. If we bill timely, we get the paid on time. If we bill accurately, our clients are being treated fairly.
Stage Four: Designing
Entrepreneurs find mastering the final level of work the most difficult. It’s also where they should spend 10% of their workweek.
Designing involves creating the business vision, that is, what the business should achieve this week, month, year and so on.
“It’s choreographing the resources we have and organizing our team to achieve that outcome,” said Michalowicz.
To succeed at designing, an entrepreneur must communicate how their business vision serves not just their objectives but colleagues, customers, clients and the marketplace.
Michalowicz said, “If you align that all together, now you have a business that’s automatically or inherently wired to run like clockwork.”
Mastering these four stages takes discipline, but you don’t have to be superhero to succeed.
Entrepreneurs can start running their business like clockwork if they track how they’re spending their time and adjust accordingly.
April 9, 2019 at 11:03AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs