25 August 2020

Customer-led Approach To Internal Process Optimization

Growth needs good internal processes. Here's how to uncover the needs of your co-workers, align everyone on the mission, and build a writing culture with a customer-led approach.

When internal processes are broken or conflicts arise, growth will slow down. No matter what great growth successes you could find.

Founders, CEOs, and potentially heads of growth must be sure everyone is aligned and processes are optimized.

Taking a customer-led approach where customers are employees and co-workers is your best path to success.

Uncover unmet needs

By interviewing co-workers, you could find that some processes are suboptimal because certain needs are unmet by current solutions.

Let's say some co-workers are bothered by the current project management solution the company is using. Needs change when the company grows.

Regular interviews and feedback requests will unearth what exactly is bothering them and you will be able to find the right solution.

If you don't understand exactly the pains and needs of your co-workers, the chance of success will be a lot lower.

Almost knowing what they need will lead to sub-optimal solutions to be chosen. The cost of migration to a new solution is high so you can't do it every quarter.

Aligned on the mission and culture

It's essential everyone in your company understands clearly the mission of the company – its positioning.

Sustainable growth can't be achieved if each department goes in different directions.

If the mission isn't understood by your co-workers, imagine how your customers must feel!

Over-invest in communicating about mission and culture. Keep explaining the why.

But the issue could come from bad positioning. In this case, a profound change in the mission is necessary to properly align everyone.

Build a writing culture

What do you do with your customers to improve your relationship with them? You use knowledge bases, changelogs, blog posts, etc. You should do the same internally.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

Silent meetings. Prepare your meetings by brainstorming ideas in writing. Each participant reads them at the start of the meeting, and a discussion ensues – preferably in writing. Meetings end up more focused, and meeting notes are already written and more comprehensive.

History of decisions. How many times have I heard someone complain they didn't know about a decision that was taken. They might have forgotten or just didn't get notified. Writing a log of decisions keeps everyone at the same level of information.

Synthesize daily learnings and compare them with others. I love to share what I've learned, and discover new things. It doesn't have to be daily, but you should regularly share information with your co-workers.

As remote work becomes more prevalent, everyone in your company needs to take writing more seriously.

But it's hard! It's honestly difficult to write clearly and cohesively.

That's why hiring a consultant or having someone internally ready to do some coaching is necessary.

You can find a ton of insights about writing culture on this Twitter thread: https://twitter.com/hnshah/status/1265106438453526530

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Optimizing internal processes are crucial when you are preparing to scale your company.

But it's also important for smaller companies to optimize them as soon as possible before it becomes too hard to manage.

Optimization doesn't mean being rigid about processes. As the company evolves, processes must evolve to stay relevant. Optimization isn't a one-time job.

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