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Signals Vs Noise – That’s what Leaders do


When working with an organisation, one realises that an organisation is essentially an amplifier. The primary job of a team is to amplify the processes and priorities established by the Leadership team to cope up with the growth in the business. E.g. Leadership team establishes a norm that a customer query should be resolved within 4 hours or an invoice should be paid within 30 days. The teams within the organisation execute this mandate effectively & efficiently as the business expands.

As a student of science, physics always fascinated me. To my great surprise, I found the principle of physics is very much applicable in almost all of the business processes. In physics, one learns that the role of filters is very important in a circuit. They segregate the noise from signals. It ensures that only signals are fed to an amplifier to create a good sound. If it allowed noise to reach the filter, it would end up creating a cacophony. Business is no different from Physics. In business, the leadership team is the filter and the organisation is an amplifier. If the leadership team ensures that only the right priorities (signals) are fed to the organisation (amplifier) it will end up creating a lean and growing organisation (music). But if it feeds mundane requirements to the organisational teams, you will end up with a confused and average organisation. Let’s look at a typical scenario in most of the small to medium businesses. They somehow believe that almost all the things in their organisation are supposed to be done by them. They pass on this message through their actions (and decisions) to the employees. The employees are also made to believe that to ensure quality all the processes should be done in-house. As the organisation grows, lots of new processes are introduced and the organisation ends up spending a considerable amount of time learning and acquiring those skills. The time and other resources invested in this process are not something for which the customer is going to pay and hence this is an additional cost to the organisation. Instead, if the leadership team communicates that the main job of the organisation is to serve customer, the team would look at options to integrate new processes by outsourcing it or shortening the learning curve by engaging a consultant etc. This may look a little expensive initially but in the long run, this will ensure a more efficient organisation. Most of the large organisations are very clear about their priorities and hence they work with a team of outsourced partners and consultants to make their organisation more lean and efficient. The difference here is essentially the signal that has been fed to the organisation by the leadership team. Appears to be sufficiently basic, isn’t that so?