The Investigating Manager
What do you do when you know you have a problem but don’t know how to fix it?
Investigate what’s wrong.
Let’s say you have a company that sells products which, after many years of decent profits has been loosing money and market share during the last year; what do you do?
A quick tour of the warehouse will provide you with clues, a visual idea of which are the products that move and which are the ones that don’t and most likely you will notice that the 80/20 hypothesis applies: only 20 % or less are products of high rotation while the remaining 80% are not. A deeper investigation will most likely also prove that only 20% of your customers account for 80% or more of your total sales. Find out which products sell the most and what those 20% of customers are looking for in order to solve the problem.
What makes this type of Manager successful? ASK QUESTIONS
Questions enable people to piece together connections which enables them to understand how they fit into the big picture. The right answers depend on the number and quality of questions asked and the determination involved in the process. The process is called INVESTIGATIVE THINKING: do not automatically believe what everyone else believes or accept everything you are told – question, investigate and understand.
In general, the most pertinent business related questions are:
- Are a few products or customers super profitable?
- Who are you main customers, what makes them different, what do they expect?
- What are you most profitable product lines, which are not?
- What is your firm’s core, which activities are extraordinarily important and give the business its reason to exist?
However, a successful investigative manager needs to turn their microscope on more than just the firm and its products and ask a series of some more personal 80/20 questions:
- What single powerful idea will turbo-charge my business … and my career?
There are an infinite number of ideas in the world; however, investigate only those that have been successful elsewhere – in another country or another firm and then choose the one that has the best chance of making an enormous impact.
- Who might sponsor the idea?
Make sure you have the support of decision makers.
- Who is achieving great results and how?
Look for successful people, learn their methods and achieve similar results.
- How do I achieve significant improvement?
Don’t look only for improvement but rather aim for significant improvement.
- How can I achieve much more with less?
Results matter more than the effort to achieve them.
- What is holding me back?
There are many reasons for success, but there are usually only one or two principal reasons for personal failure – IDENTIFY THEM. Is it lack of confidence or knowledge? or is it overwhelming workload, the boss or the organization? - what is holding you back? Be honest.