Relationships and Dependencies
Consider if you were planning for a sailing trip around the world. You're designing your boat and you tell the architect to design the boat providing ultimate stability while maximizing speed. So after investing time and money (probably lots of money) he delivers a design you love and you hire a company to build the boat.
Fast forward to when the boat is complete and you begin your journey. All seems well, you're loving the stability and smooth sailing...until all of the sudden the boat lurches to a stop, almost capsizing. You gather your wits, look around, but don't see why this happened. Then you get into the water, look under the boat and see your keel is stuck in the ocean floor. Somehow you forgot to consider the depth of the keel in planning your trip and now you're stuck, maybe even needing to spend extra money to get towed or repair a broken keel.
In business, the same concept exists, where if you don't consider the relationships and dependencies of how your business operates relative to your journey, you may end stuck, broken, or broke.
Over the years, I've worked across multiple industries covering virtually every aspect of business operations; from product design and inception all the way through manufacturing, distribution and sales. This has provided an incredible amount of insights into the relationships and dependencies across a business, and an understanding of how working in silos or with blinders on may create efficiencies in one area, but in fact most likely be creating inefficiencies in others.
There's no perfect process or solution to avoid this, but you can take some practical steps to minimize and mitigate the potential for creating one problem when solving another.
- Start by creating a relationship tree. What's this mean? Well, consider the problem you are addressing and visually map out how it impacts others both internally and externally. Paint a picture of the current situation providing visibility into how actions impact other areas and people.
- Determine multiple options for addressing the primary issue. Consider there is most likely more than one solution, so work on a few, carefully considering the pros and cons. Again, take the time to map these out visually and in writing (on a white board, paper, computer, etc.).
- Engage others, especially people you discover through your initial relationship tree, to help review and provide input regarding each potential solution. Try to develop some empathic analysis exposing the affect each of the solutions may have on others in the solution chain.
- Compare the results and measure the impact; try to gauge where the maximum benefit is for resolving your issue, while simultaneously evaluating and determining where the least negative impact will be based on your actions. Remember, there is rarely every a perfect solution; so focus on trying to narrow the choice to the one that best serves everyone.
Carefully considering how to resolve one issue based on the impact it has on others and other processes is a critical step in both solving problems and building a sustainable business process providing benefits to everyone involved.
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