Blue Ninja Julie first came across the term ‘operating rhythm’ way back when she was working in the Resourcing Centre of Excellence at a major UK bank pre-financial crash. It seemed a very fancy term to simply define the regular things you do as part of your job. The repeatable way in which you put structure around how you spend your time to be effective. The inputs, outputs and touchpoints with other colleagues and teams.
Dependent on your role this could be very simple if you had one task to complete repeatedly with no real changes or influence from outside forces, to managing many deliverables that lots of tasks, required many interactions, had dependencies, or required signoffs at particular stages. It is a way of mapping things out onto one piece of paper, documenting your job routine and taking control of the many moving pieces.
The term ‘operating rhythm’ turned out to be part of Six Sigma, a widely adopted business development method, a set of techniques and tools for process improvement, focusing on eliminating defects and reducing variation.
Owning, reviewing & maintaining an operating rhythm promotes a depth of knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, ensures the right process with the right outcome and allows people to take ownership of an end-to-end process. Having rigour around a process means that inconsistencies can be easily be identified and resolved to avoid last minute issues, building in enough time to prevent urgent escalations this makes regular processes run like clockwork.
Getting to know all the pieces of your business and having oversight of what needs to be carried out on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis is a powerful tool.
Blue Ninjas evolution to develop operating rhythms
Our passion for process improvement is how the Blue Ninjas came together. Louisa sees how processes fit together and has a talent for spotting gaps and opportunities, Julie has experience in designing and implementing processes, challenging processes that don’t work. In summer 2020 our process management function evolved into Process Ninja, a resource to help businesses optimise productivity. All businesses should have documented processes in place, this reduces the risk if key knowledge leaves the business or is unavailable but finding the time to do this can be a challenge.
That is where Blue Ninja can help. As an external virtual support we have the skills and expertise to provide an objective review of what tools and software you have, how they interact and synergies, literary meaning ‘working together’ to make your life easier. This in turn increases productivity, frees up time and saves money.
What benefit does an operating rhythm bring to a business?
Apart from providing sufficient oversight and control to a complex process with many moving parts this also provided contingency planning so that the ‘operating rhythm’ of this report and its associated procedure documentation could be stored in a central repository, easily handed over or updated. This manages situations such as ensuring not one person in your business is a SPOF (Single Point Of Failure) that causes the whole company to stop working such as only one person having the master password for recovering IT backups.
How to create an operating rhythm
Write down all the key dates for your business, these may be deadlines, meetings or key deliverables and then work backwards from there to identify when the optimal time is to start these tasks considering what data or inputs you may need. This may include dependencies you have from others internal to your business, like data from your marketing team, or external such as a report from your accountant. This will provide solid direction and clarity of what is required when and to what quality. Without this clear direction uncertainty and confusion will reign about what needs doing when.
For example, social media content needs to be planned out of what it is going to be shared and when, if like us you produce your own content you need to give yourself enough time to write, record, edit and publish to make that deadline achievable. This operating rhythm tool helps you visualise all your key dates in one place.
Who needs to map a process?
Any sized business does! We are not suggesting that we document all your processes so they end up being the size of a phone book. It’s about creating something easy to use, with infographics and links, documentation that is easy to understand and also update and maintain.
By mapping a process out such as the group wide management information report back in Julie’s banking days, it clarified to all the teams and individuals, so they understood what they needed to provide, by when, in what format and what quality / detail. Once processes were agreed, SOP’S (Standard Operating Procedures) were drafted and put in place. Find out more on how to write an SOP here.
Can we help put in place an operating rhythm for your business so regular tasks can be delivered consistently to free up your time on the exciting stuff?
Can we bring order and structure so you can organise your time, skills, and resources better?
It’s always clearer to see the drains on your time when they’re all written down, even better when they’re in a one-page picture. Why not create your own operating rhythm plan using Blue Ninja’s above.