A Balanced Business
8 Major Processes of a Balanced Organization
“My business is very different.” I hear this from business owners and leaders all the time. In the one sense, they are right. Their operation is unique and different because of their people, their custom processes, and their culture. There is one thing however that most every business or organization have in common. They all can be organized into eight major processes which provide balance to the entire operation and make them very similar. Take a look at this balanced diagram.
Marketing - All organizations and businesses begin with the Marketing process. The Marketing process is where we identify, attract, educate and entice customers to take interest in our product or service. Marketing tells customers what to expect from their investment. Marketing also determines your Market Strategy.
Sales - If the Marketing process is successful the Sales process takes over. The primary responsibility of the Sales process is to help prospective customers with their purchases. This process is to help determine what solution works best to solve the customer problem and provide a simple purchasing experience. The process should also instill trust for the company or organization in the customers mind.
Operations (Ops) - Once the Sales process is complete, the Operations process takes over to produce and deliver the product or service. The Operations process is often the area with the most complexity and individuality. It is usually the area with the greatest number of people involved.
Customer Experience or CX - Many companies put the Customer Experience processes as part of the Marketing or Sales processes. I believe the CX process is unique and worthy of having a primary process status and top level leadership. The CX process is primarily a customer research process used to learn from customer satisfaction and to identify future innovation opportunities.
Finance – The Finance process is probably the oldest and most established process in any organization. Finance is responsible for ensuring accurate management of the organizations financial resources.
Health / Risk – The Health / Risk process is primarily responsible to assess and prioritize the Health and Risk of an organization. Functions like Legal, Insurance, Human Resources, Safety, Benefits and Loss Prevention would reside inside of this process.
Leadership - This is probably the least structured process in most organizations and businesses. What I mean is that most people don’t realize Leadership is a process, but it is, just like every other aspect of your business. In fact, it is the most important process because Leadership is the only process that can see the organization from the highest vantage point or have the right perspective. The Leadership process owns the visions, goals, plans, team alignment and results of the organization.
Technology – The word Technology comes from the Greek word tékhnē or techno meaning technique. The suffix -logy comes from Latin meaning “the study of”. That means that the original meaning of Technology was “the study of technique”. Somewhere along the lines, we have lost the real meaning of Technology and its process. It is my contention the Technology process is to study the organization and customer techniques which then invokes the innovation or research and development process (not addressed here).
Balanced Processes - Now that we’ve defined the major processes every organization should have, let’s explore how these processes balance one another.
Marketing and Customer Experience – If Marketing is telling customers what to expect, Customer Experience is there as a balance to confirm that customer’s expectations were met and to give feedback to the organization. This feedback then is weighed by Marketing and Leadership to determine any adjustments to the Market Strategy or product/service offering.
Sales and Finance – Sales when left unchecked, driven by their desire to help customers achieve their goals, sometimes can offer solutions that are not economically effective for the organization. Because of this, Finance is the counterbalance to help ensure that equity is achieved.
Operations and Health / Risk – Being that Health / Risk’s main function is to optimize organizational effectiveness and Operations typically is focused on efficiency and employs the greatest number of personnel and processes, it is logical then that Health / Risk and Operations are opposed and form a balance.
Leadership and Technology – Leadership is in charge of the vision, goals and planning for the organization. Technology is studying the techniques of the organization. Technology will uncover opportunities and often oversee those improvements, but Leadership has the final say on which improvements to undertake.
The Leadership Team - I believe that a strong leadership team is needed to properly defend each of these processes. This team has to be a high functioning team in order to passionately debate the balance between progress and perfection, freedom and stability or profit and happiness in order to help the organization grow and sustain. It is from these major processes that the business can evaluate its success and adjust to the ever changing needs of the organization and outside influences. If you are a small company without distributed leadership over each of these processes, perhaps getting help from an advisory board or an outside mentor can help.
Next Step –Determine which of the eight major processes your organization is superior at and why? Look at what factors make that process so successful. Next, consider the process you seem to have the most challenges with. How can you use the success factors of the first to help solve the second? Finally, I recommend documenting, at a high level, each of these processes so you can see the flow of work and build a company scoreboard to track the success of these processes.