Putting out 🔥🔥🔥 in your biz? Find out how to stop them once and for all – yes, really!

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By Kristina Coyne

May 2, 2023

If it feels like you’re constantly putting out fires in your business…

Your schedule is packed with to-dos…

Maybe you’re in a vicious cycle of client delivery, sales calls, dealing with staff and client issues that prevents you from building the delivery mechanisms you know you want to build…

Or for whatever reason your staff just aren’t working like you know they could be…

So how do you get out of firefighting mode (that “tired and trapped” cycle) and into strategic planning and leverage-building?

The first step is to work out what’s REALLY causing you to be in this cycle…

Notifications diagram mentioned in the video

Image shows the lifecycle of a request, with the notifications that are generated after an action. It is a process model showing swimlanes for the creator of a request, the responder to the request and the notifications that are created for each action taken by the creator and responder.

Click on the image to open it full size.


Have you ever felt blindsided by something coming up out of the blue, that can completely de-rail what you planned to work on that day or week? (Both hands in the air for me )

It can feel like we had no warning, and this thing has just appeared from nowhere!

(To be honest, sometimes that IS the case. COVID, anyone?)

But many times, if we take a step back, and a slightly longer view, we can see earlier hints that we could have acted on if we were paying attention.

And if we’d done that, maybe it wouldn’t now be so all-consuming…

One of the most common business fires gets uncovered when someone asks “hey, where’s this thing up to?”

Suddenly we discover that the people we THOUGHT were looking after it

  • didn’t know they needed to do it
  • thought someone else was doing it
  • didn’t know when they needed to do it by
  • didn’t have enough information to start or complete it
  • didn’t know who to give it to once they’d done it…

(You know the story…)

And now it’s up to you (or one of your other staff) to step in and sort it out.

When we look at the root cause of so many of the fires in our business, they come down to work and information flows not actually flowing (or in un-sexy terms – business system and process issues).

Now fortunately, these can be fairly easily fixed. Just work out what your work flows should be, make sure everyone has all the info they need, when they need it, and all should be good, right?

Not so much…

While that IS the fix, actually getting it done is neither simple nor easy. If it were, you would have done it already.

I’ve come into businesses that have been operating for YEARS, and when you ask 3 different people to run you through how they do things, you get 7 different answers.

And I totally get it. Businesses are incredibly complex. There likely ARE 7 different ways to do something, because each caters to a specific scenario.

And that can lead to confusion, delays, misinterpretation, and inconsistency in outcomes when people don’t know which process they should be following for each scenario.

To really get this sorted requires skill to look at all the moving pieces and work out how they connect. Then work out the OPTIMAL way for them to connect, so that nothing is dropped, falls off the radar or takes extra effort to do. 

One wonderful woman I worked with recently was in exactly that situation.

She was putting in a workflow management system to help provide more visibility of the issues her staff were working on, and to make sure everyone involved in each issue had ALL the information they needed to resolve it. She was replacing a series of email inboxes which were not able to keep pace with the extent and longevity of the issues her staff were dealing with.

She had engaged a company to set up and configure the software for her.

While they knew the software, they weren’t wonderful at explaining to her what the software could do, or how it would meet her business needs.

She knew that what was being delivered was missing things, but she couldn’t put her finger on exactly what it was.

So she called me in.

The particular issue she wanted help with was notifications. While one staff member or team would have main carriage of an issue, other people (including the requestor) would also have input to it. She didn’t want her staff to have to constantly check every issue every day, to see if there had been any updates from the requestor or someone else. She wanted them to be notified if anything changed, so they could then look at the issue and take the next step. This would make better use of their time, freeing them up to focus on other things that needed action.

This was not how the software company had configured it. But they didn’t make it obvious where the gaps were…

After sitting down with her, working out how she was planning on using the system and looking at the info provided from the software company, I drew it all out for her, including where the current gaps were.

She was able to take this back to her team, confirm it met their needs, and then work with the software company to make the system deliver these outcomes.

While other members of her team and the software company had been working on this for a while, no one else had taken the whole lifecycle view of the issue in the system.

They had only been looking at individual notifications. Not the work and information flow as a whole.

Want to see what we came up with? Check it out here.

(Note – this flow is for a particular piece of software, to suit a particular business. It may not fit how your business and systems work.)

Two things made this particularly effective for my client:

  • It’s visual. It’s really clear about who does what, and the actions that happen as a result. Everyone looking at this gets the whole picture very quickly. It’s much easier to digest than if it was written out as a document and text.
  • It covers every action that can happen as part of this workflow, from its creation to its completion. We’ve got the whole lifecycle on a page. Things don’t have to happen in this order, or every action to happen – it is representative of what MAY happen as part of a workflow.

We’ve got the whole lifecycle on a page. Things don’t have to happen in this order, or every action to happen – it is representative of what MAY happen as part of a workflow.

End result?

My client and her business now have a system that works for them.

  • They’re able to resolve issues faster.
  • They’ve increased the number of issues they can work on at once, because they’re no longer wasting time constantly checking up on things.
  • When someone’s away, someone else can step in and take over an issue, with full knowledge of everything that’s happened with it along the way.
  • She can check where things are up to and step in early if needed.
  • Her clients are getting better, faster service.

She’s managing fewer fires, and any she has to deal with are caught much earlier, so are quicker and easier to fix.

Total win!

Do you need a win like this in your business? A complex problem that you and your team have not yet been able to solve? 

Get in touch, and we’ll explore if we’re a good fit.

Kristina Coyne

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