Editor’s note: Lea A. Strickland is President/CEO of FOCUS Resources, a strategic business consulting firm, based in Cary.
_________________________________________________________________________________________Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be as efficient and organized in our businesses as nature makes ants and bees? By their nature ants and bees fall into the rhythm and role the organization needs them to fill. In addition to their ability to act in a defined role, all ants and bees work in conjunction with each other to build a sound infrastructure, react to real and perceived threats, expand operations as the organization grows, tend to the business of survival, while monitoring the environment for opportunities.

Businesses seek to find the balance, efficiency, and effectiveness which are encoded in the DNA of ants and bees. If businesses are able to encode organizational cohesiveness in their “DNA,” then success becomes second nature.

How do businesses embed success in their DNA? It takes a strong, open, flexible culture that is able to adapt seamlessly to change. Organizations which have at their core a clear vision, a set of guiding principles that are lived by, and the ability to align the organization with strategy and accountability have success in their DNA.

The Organization Is What It Does

The DNA of an organization isn’t what it says it does, but how it acts and fosters interaction between its members and the business’ environment. For instance, some businesses and their leaders say they have an “open door” policy. Unfortunately, they are talking about physical doors. Businesses which succeed have the innate ability to deal equally well with any type of news – good, bad, or mediocre. Organizations that have success in their DNA have a willingness to deal with reality — the “communication door” is always open. The organization which is able to reward communication without rewarding failure has given the business time to act rather than react. The business gets early warning signals of environmental and operational issues which lead to organizational alignment and keep the organizational “eye” on objectives.

Infrastructure and Commitment to Deliverables

If you have ever worked for an individual or in an organization which encouraged you to ask for help when you need resources, which focused on moving the organization toward its objectives by having both individual accountability and organizational commitment to making things happen, then you know the difference that this can bring. Individual accountability means individuals are expected to handle certain roles, projects, or activities. Organizational commitment means there is support behind the individual when that person needs to add bandwidth to get things done.

For example, a customer project is due one week from today. A client project has been on track to get it completed on time, on budget, and on target for results – your team has been on fire getting things done.

In reviewing the project, the project leader realizes that a key element was overlooked in what was promised to the client versus what has been executed. The project that was on track is now in trouble. The implications for the client relationship aren’t good to say the least. The project leader has choices on how to act:

  • Deliver an on time project that isn’t quite right,
  • Miss the deadline and get the project right,
  • Do both by notifying you of the issue and asking for resources to deliver on the project, more time to address the issue, or a combination of time and resources.
  • From a customer perspective the project manager needs to be able to communicate the issue and keep the commitment or give notice that the commitment can’t be kept. Enabling your team to work together, have a defined role and deliverables, and ask for more resources when required for the task means that your organization has more capability and delivers consistently to the client.

    Acting Independently Together — Fulfilling Our Roles

    Ants and bees act independently, but when the good of the colony or hive (organization) is threatened, they signal for help. They defend against threats and exploit opportunities by calling upon all the necessary resources need to act appropriately – even if that means temporarily abandoning maintenance activities, other projects, and building infrastructure. The immediate need supersedes all other concerns. The ripple effects of the response to an emergency are dealt with and resources reallocated after the immediate need is met.

    What is natural in the insect world needs to become second nature to organizations. Efficiency and effectiveness, survival and growth are products of the clearly defined objective of the collective welfare of the organization. When all levels and members know their role and how it fits into the business mission, then there is little uncertainty as to what the priorities are, what actions need to be taken, and what the framework for decision-making is.

    It isn’t enough to set strategic objectives, create job descriptions, or draw up an organizational chart. Those activities are part of the process, but it takes more. Communication and a culture of action are necessary to get results. Is your organization getting the level of results you desire?

    Lea A. Strickland, MBA CMA CFM CBM, is President/CEO of FOCUS Resources, a strategic business consulting firm, based in Cary. Strickland is nationally recognized as a consultant, speaker, columnist, and author on the strategic, operational, and financial issues of businesses of all sizes. Her experience in financial and operational leadership spans from Fortune 500 and Global 100 companies to early and growth stage technology companies. She is the author of “Out of the Cubicle and Into Business”, a guide for first-time entrepreneurs working on defining the business. She has over 200 published articles and has numerous appearances in national publications and media including Entrepreneur Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine Radio. She can be reached at 919.234.3960 or lea@focusresourcesinc.com. Her website is www.focusresourcesinc.com

    FOCUS Resources, specializes in early and growth stage companies (primarily in technology, bio-technology, and other emerging industries) advising on the start-up, strategic, financial, funding, and other areas related to commercialization and profitability. FOCUS Resources is also recognized as a leading advisor on the business issues and requirements associated with governmental funding (SBIR, STTR, and other sources).