Last week I published a short article of something I learned a couple of weeks ago regarding the source of all motivation, and how to actually go about “listening to yourself”. In its essence, the theme is this: First you have to Be. Then you can Do. Finally, this allows you to Have. It’s what I call my Mastery Model.
What does this all have to do with strategy in your enterprise or business?
Being allows you to know deep down what it is you really want. No shame. No judgement. No inner critical voice. And yes, we all have “split personalities”. We have a body which needs care. We have an emotional self which expresses feelings and demands attention. We have an intellectual self which helps take rational direction over our lives, it needs input and also wishes to express itself. Finally, we have our spirit or soul (whatever you call it) which taps into a deep inner wisdom known to all of us. Knowing what your core motivation is, allows you to reconcile your intellect and emotions into a cohesive unit, driven to act to accomplish something your spirit desires. It is the only way to quiete the incessant fighting between our intellect and emotions.
So, you have managed to get in touch with that which you wish to accomplish in the time you have here. Great! (If you have not, I suggest some sort of meditation practice to do so). Now, all that remains is to act, right?
Acting is simple when you are starting up. However as your enterprise grows more complicated, you are at risk of losing direction and despite your best efforts, your emotions are driven to extremes, and your intellect is now saturated. You lose sight of the path to your most intrinsic and important objective. The stress pushes you to distract yourself. Your behavior patterns take over and addictions to anything come up. If you could just be more effective in doing those things which will get you to your goal, then you could simply get to the have part, and be done with it. Pheew!
All of us are capable of becoming aware of different parts of the entire mental and physical process that move us forward. Yet we become stuck in very specific things. We watch and read countless motivational articles, or perhaps different tools to better manage our businesses. At some point, the amount of ideas out there, most of them truly valid, end up confusing me more, and ultimately I had been led into a induced shame for not knowing all of them and using them effectively. To top it all off, my behavior patterns keep me stuck in unproductive activities.
Back to how best to “Do”
One tool I have found very effective in helping me “Do” has been the book called Mastering The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish. I witnessed his conference in 2011, and have since been hooked to his tools. I created neat Excel templates to easily modify and create the printable documents for sharing this information so we all could easily keep track of it and move forward.
Because of its structure, this methodology requires some strategic objectives, which then are subdivided into component portions, which then can logically be divided into tasks. These tasks are then assigned to individual people, to be held accountable for their accomplishment. After a while, a few objectives can encompass hundreds of tasks. Keeping track on all of them is tricky. Life happens, some tasks don’t get accomplished, new ones come up, others become irrelevant due to their nature and when written down in a static worksheet, these tasks can be easily misplaced, lost or not updated.
To solve this problem, I had envisioned a sort of Dashboard where all tasks are tracked. To get there, I would have to surmount these challenges:
- The ERP software we had at the moment, being the obvious candidate, did not even consider keeping track of tasks as an option. When I spoke with programmers and staff, the idea of “keeping track” of tasks seemed far fetched. Many people looked at me as if I had just landed from an exoplanet in our galaxy, or perhaps needed to go to get my brain functioning evaluated. Paying for this feature to be developed put me in a profoundly suboptimal mental functioning category. In short: They thought I was crazy.
- I envisioned tasks and objectives as being somehow linked to financial data direct from the company’s accounting.
- Data dispersion amongst different applications really pushes me to act like a mentally unstable individual. The frustration in spending time “importing” and “exporting” data, only to then build a proper visualization could really wreak havoc with my remaining neurons. I wanted data to be available without the dance of export-import-visualization making.
The Habits and ERPNext
When I found ERPNext and was exploring its functionality, it became evident that it already surmounted the three challenges expressed above. Data would be centralized in an ERP software which already had task assignment capabilities in its framework, and thus it would only be a matter of creating the visualizations for it.
Yes, it has taken me a lot of time to implement on my own server, but as I learn all its wonders, I am grateful for having chosen this ERP software over any other.
The Habits, highly condensed
The premise for creating a great business is that you need to have a handful of rules, you must repeat yourself a lot, and act consistently with those rules. (This is why having few rules is a convenient idea). The middle is gone from planning. Only long term goals(10 to 25 years) connected to short term (90 days) tasks. Keep everything stupidly simple! The best data is firsthand data!
- Priorities: Handful of rules which don’t change a lot (values of the firm). One long-term Big Hairy Audacious Goal. (BHAG) Top 5 and Top 1 of 5.
- Data: Provides feedback on your actions, realtime. Smart numbers, which are measured over a long period of time, and then Critical numbers which focus on a specific aspect of the business or someone’s job.
- Rhythm: I personally prefer a Weekly, Quarterly, and Annual format. Mr. Harnish suggests dailies and monthlies as well, perhaps better suited to smaller subsets of the entire company. Agendas for the meetings provide the connection between long-term and short-term goals and a place where accountability is actually verified.
So, a typical layout for our company in one year would be:
BHAG: Provide the highest quality produce in the most sustainable manner
Top 5 in support of BHAG (In this case, only 4 came up):
- Achieve Sustainable, Quality Production
* Increase yields and qualiy of 5 crops:
Quote and purchase effective organic fertilizers, try the fertilizers, make a decision on permanent usage of new fertilizers based on trials, ensure regular supply of newly chosen fertilizers, negotiate price for long term purchase of fertilizers, etc.
* Reduce water used
Try 3 different irrigation regimes for each crop in trials area, evaluate yield and quality of crop, recycle primary hydroponic water and use for sprouting or substrate based hydroponic systems, measure water usage with a meter.
- Increase Sales
* Convert New Customers:
Research and write down contact information for 10 new potential customers per week, call customers and offer samples, follow up call the customer and close a sale, follow up for consistent purchases.
* Increase products offered:
Add new products or varieties as feasible, send samples to existing customers, verify products are satisfying needs, etc.
- Effective Management
* Proper Recordkeeping:
Implement ERP software for the long-term, which is flexible and scalable. Teach and recurrently refresh ERP usage topics to staff, audit records internally and externally.
*Data Review and Visualization
Ensure data is being reviewed in decision-making processes, self-confront all roles regarding performance to motivate changes when necessary.
- Time efficient Processes
*Reduce time spent in recurrent but necessary tasks
Develop electronic invoicing app to prevent duplicate data entries which waste time, test application and deploy application.
Note how each of the Top 4 priorities has individual “projects” in boldface and some task descriptions. This will all tie-in below.
Smart numbers: Weekly and Monthly sales numbers
Criticial Numbers: Net active customers, SKU’s per customer, Time spent invoicing, water meter usage, yield weights.
Weekly meeting: 1 hour weekly meeting, discussing the objectives, numbers and pending tasks, including challenges facing task accomplishment.
Annual meeting: 2 hour meeting, discussing the actions taken during the year, progress towards our objectives, and lessons learned.
Merging into ERPNext
I began to making analogies in my head of how to fit all of this in ERPNext, and here is how I have implemented it:
ERPNext has a Projects module where you can manage Individual projects, Track time spent, view Reports and Manage the projects. It is intended for use in the Services industry, however with proper configuration, it is excellent for Internal management!
Each Project has several tasks within it, with start and end dates for each task. The projects can be seen on a list, or in a Kanban board.
Thus, I create one Kanban board per quarter.
Then, one column per each of the Top 5 priorities.
After that, all the necessary projects to satisfy each of the priorities.
Within each project, the individual tasks necessary to complete them.
Kanban Board > Column > Project > Task
Quarter period > One Top 5 priority > Project > Task
- Create a Public Note where you outline your Big Hairy Audacious Goal
- Create a Kanban board.
Go to Awesome bar at the top and type Kanban Board list.
Click on New
Give the board a name, for example: First quarter objectives
Reference DocType will be Project
Field Name: kanban_column
Add the Objectives, one per row and name them. In this example: 1-Achieve Sustainable, Quality Production, 2- Increase Sales, 3-Effective Management, 4-Time Efficient Processes
Click on Save.
- Open Projects, and click on Project. If you have a list view, on the left pane you will see a menu item for Kanban▾. Click on it, and you will find the Kanban board you just created: First quarter objectives
- The board will be empty at this point, but the columns you created, representing the Top 5 priorities, will be visible.
- If you click on New, you will be able to create a project. Name it “Increase yields and qualiy of 5 crops” and Save it.
- ERPNext, out of the box, does not list a field named kanban_column on its Project DocType, therefore you must add it as a Customizable Field. With the Project you just created on screen, click on Menu ▾ then Customize. A new view will open where you can add a Custom field. Click on the Project Name field, and in the dialog click on Insert Above. Label the Field “Top 5 Priority” of Type Select. Name of the field is kanban_column. Options should contain a list of the objectives, exactly as entered in step 2 above, one per line. Click on Save.
- You should now see the new field appear in the Project, and thus, you must select the Kanban Column where it belongs. In this case, you select 1-Achieve Sustainable, Quality Production.
- Fill in the individual tasks for this project. You can also assign tasks for each.
- In the public note created on step 1, add the link to the Kanban board, one link per Quarter. Every meeting you do, open the note, and drill down from there. Add links to Data/ report views for the Smart Numbers and Critical Numbers.
This is the workflow you do once you have initially configured. Consider this the regular or consistent routines you must do to keep the Rockefeller Habits alive in your enterprise.
- Create a Kanban board per quarter, assign the priority columns.
- Create individual projects, and select the Kanban Column or top 5 priority you require.
- Add tasks to each project as necessary. These will be modified constantly as new ones come up, or old ones get deleted. This should be done in the weekly meetings, in front of everybody.
- Assign tasks to individuals. When an individual completes the task, the project will show progress towards completion.
- As a mandatory rule, check the Kanban board during each weekly /quarterly meeting!