Last week, I learned a little bit about sailing. I met a friend for coffee. He compared the process of sailing to the process of living your life and running your business. He said an important thing about sailing was to make sure you don't have trouble makers on the crew.
This makes a lot of sense to me. You are in the ocean and it's not a quick swim to safety. If something does go wrong, its potentially life-threatening. Comparing the ship to the business, allowing trouble makers in your business is the same as having having poor business processes. "That wasn't supposed to happen" is a sign that you have a trouble maker on board. It's similar because in both cases, the captain lost control of an important process which led to a bad outcome.
Now this does not mean that you have to be the captain of every decision. What it does mean is that if you don't have strong fundamental processes in place, you are inviting a trouble maker on board your business and not even realize it. Let's name this trouble maker Mr. Murphy from Murphy's Law fame (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong). Instead of making him swim to find your boat, weak and ineffective processes allow him to walk on board before you even set sail.
Strong processes are good at two things: preventing things from going wrong in the first place; and helping to prevent small issues from turning into big ones.
When you decide that you will share the purpose of your business with your stakeholders you make it clear that the team is sailing east for 75 miles then heading north - here is the map and here is where we are going. When you describe the work needed to be done and communicate regularly with your employees, you create a team of people that will help the boat arrive at the destination. When you review your financial statements every month, you keep track of your progress against the route planned on the map. You can make course corrections early and avoid running out of supplies before you reach your destination.
I like the similarities between sailing and staying in control of your business. On a ship there is almost always something to do. Make sure that you too are regularly working on your business processes. Pick a small process today and work on making it better. Document what you did and keep track of it. If you do this consistently, you will be amazed at how much better your ship looks.
To your success!