Following on from a previous article about The EMyth Perspective inspired by Michael Gerber’s book “The EMyth Manager,” I thought it might be useful to give you the overall context to this perspective and explain all 5 of Gerber’s EMyth principles.
Gerber believes that every manager should treat the organisation (or their part in it) as a small business and think of themselves as small business owners; so these principles apply to leaders and managers in any size organisation, as well as to business owners.
The first core principle is concerned with your life. Gerber believes (as do I) that you need to think of your business as a way of getting more from your life. Obviously in order to do that you need to know the purpose of your life, or have a vision of who you want to be and the kind of life you want to lead: Gerber describes this as your primary aim.
Once you’ve established this you can then ask yourself whether the organisation’s aim serves your aim, whether the work you’re currently doing allows you to fulfil your aim, whether your company is a place where you can grow and experience yourself becoming the person you want to be.
In other words, as a manager you must do the internal work first, the work on yourself that enables you to answer these questions, otherwise you might fall into the trap of accepting the organisation’s purpose as your own, committing yourself to it, fighting battles for it and progressing well. But you might wake up one day and ask yourself “Who am I?” “Where am I?” “What happened?” If so, you’ll realise you’ve passively relinquished responsibility for creating your own purpose, your own vision, your own life!
Your vision, or primary aim, once created will become your internal benchmark against which you make all decisions concerning life and work.
The second EMyth principle is ojectivisation or objectivising the business; viewing it as apart from rather than a part of you. You must see the business as a way of serving your primary aim as opposed to being your primary aim. Obviously, this would be impossible if you’d not worked on the creation of your own vision for your life, which is why the principles are in this order.
This principle involves deciding on the purpose of the business, or its strategic objectives. This means viewing the business as if it was a product sitting on a shelf and competing for the customer’s attention against a whole shelf of competing products (or businesses.) Put another way, this has less to do with what’s done in the business and more to do with how it’s done. The commodity isn’t important – the way it’s delivered is! Your business is your product.
You develop your strategic objective by asking “How will my organisation look? How will it feel? How will it work? How will it justify its existence financially?” Write your Company Story – the standards and character of your organisation.
Once you’ve done this the tactical objectives will start to reveal themselves, because once you determine this is the kind of organisation, then it’ll follow that that is what we must do to manifest it.
The strategic objectives therefore become the external benchmark by which you can evaluate your role as a leader or manager.
The third EMyth principle involves working on the business rather than in it. This flows from the first two principles in that if you can see the business as apart from you, that your business is not your life, then you will recognise that the primary purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but rather the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life.
Once this is truly understood, you can go to work on your business rather than in it with a full understanding of why it’s absolutely necessary for you to do so. This needs to become the central theme of your daily activity, the prime catalyst for everything you do going forward. It means stepping out, taking the helicopter view so that you can more easily see what work you’re currently doing, and whether it is moving you towards the business you want, because your role is to create a business that manifests the strategic objectives.
Systemisation, by which I mean developing an integrated system that does the work of the business whilst the people run the system, is the fourth EMyth principle.
Gerber advocates The Franchise Prototype model where you pretend your business is (or will be) the prototype for thousands more just like it (not almost like it, but exactly like it) i.e. you pretend you’re going to franchise your business! (Note I said pretend – you don’t have to, unless of course you own the business and you want to.) This franchise prototype model must follow certain rules:
* It must provide consistent value to customers, employees, suppliers and lenders, beyond what they expect.
What could your prototype do to provide consistently outstanding value?
* It must be operated by people with the lowest possible level of skill (i.e. necessary to fulfil the function.)
How can you give your customer the results he wants systematically, rather than personally? How can you create a business whose results are system dependant rather than people or expert dependant?
* It must stand out as a place of impeccable order.
How can you create structure and order?
How can you create a business that says to its customers, your people know what they’re doing; a business that says to your people, you know what you’re doing?
* All work in the model must be documented in Operations manuals. This is your bible for “How we do it here.” It documents the purpose of the work, the specific steps to be taken, and the standards relating to both the process and the result. It is crucial for your prototype.
‘How do you do it’ in your organisation?
* It must provide a uniformly predictable service to customers. Looking orderly is not enough; the business must also act orderly – it must do things in a predictable, uniform way.
How can you ensure that what you do, you do the same way each and every time?
* It must utilise a uniform colour, dress and facilities code. The model must be thought of as a package for your one and only product – your business.
How can you package your business as carefully as a box of cereal?
Building the prototype of your business is a continuous business development process and this is the fifth and last EMyth principle.
Business Development from the EMyth perspective consists of 3 distinct but integrated processes – innovation, quantification & orchestration. Innovation is the ability to create what could be. Quantification is recording and truly knowing the numbers in your organisation, so that you can recall the relationship between one event and another and a string of events that follow the same action. Orchestration is organising the work into replicable systems for consistent results. (My previous article gives more detail on these 3 processes.)
So, from the EMyth perspective, and the principles described:
“What is your primary aim? What are your strategic objectives?”
In order to leverage your time you need to be analysing your daily activities and asking yourself:
“Am I serving my primary aim (purpose of life) through the fulfilment of strategic objectives (purpose of business) by the work I’m doing at this moment?”
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