How to Escape From the Busy Trap

In The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker says that effective leaders focus on results, not activities. Having a holistic operations view of your company, including strategic and tactical perspectives, will help you set priorities and move into the express lane of performance, creating increased value for your company.

Many owners and executives of small and middle market companies (SMEs) constantly face the challenge of prioritizing to increase value, accelerate profit and growth, and get a leg up on the competition. They “don’t have time” to improve their business models with a strategic view and a balance between operations strategy and business strategy.

Here are six ways to move into the express lane, creating value for your customers and profit for your company:


What results are you trying to achieve in the next two to three years? Clarifying the results you’re aiming for helps your people understand where they are going and why. A strong vision focuses on value – to the customer, your stakeholders and your employees. Focusing on the big picture gets you out of the day-to-day tactical issues that so often capture too much executive attention. Using the vision, you can effectively consider decisions and measure progress.

Disruptive Ideas

Many companies focus on lean or cost reduction to achieve industry average results. Why be average? Your competitors are moving beyond that and so should you. Using leading edge techniques and practices that move you rapidly toward your vision will help you achieve world-class performance. Rather than trying to be better at what you already do, shift your perspective on what your company is capable of.


Get people invested in new ideas and priorities by personalizing them. Why are they doing this, and more importantly, what’s in it for them? Does it make their job easier? Do they get greater rewards? Are they part of a winning team? Does their work provide exceptional satisfaction?


Move three things forward a mile, not 100 things forward an inch. As Drucker says, effective executives focus on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. In operations, those things include speed, cash flow, profit, capacity and agility. Keeping your key priorities congruent with your vision is critical for world-class performance.


People need a clear process to follow and the accountability to hold them responsible for following it. At many companies, employees are wandering in the wilderness, confused about expectations. Remember, what gets measured gets managed.


In my forthcoming book, I explain how internal and external partnerships lead to breakthrough results. More than just collaboration, partnerships include shared vision, shared goals and objectives, and shared rewards. Using partnerships in supply chain, companies can save up to 20%, and inventory turns can be north of 8 times. Partnerships help the effective executive focus on results.

The Take-Away

To start moving into the express lane, connect your operations strategy to your business strategy, set a clear vision for the future, and make sure you have the right people on the bus to carry it out. Then, with well-defined processes, you can move quickly to increase the value of your company.

If you’d like an assessment of what your top priorities should be for the next 12 to 18 months, contact me for Rick’s Forensic Operations Assessment and identify the steps you can take to dramatically increase profit, growth and company value.


“Rick’s assessment goes to the heart of what I need to focus on in all aspects of our business to meet our goals. His analysis identifies the priorities we must have to move our business forward for the next 2 – 3 years and highlights measurable results.”

– Myla Fiesterman, President, National Builders Hardware Company


© 2016 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved