If there is one thing you need to do when you are managing a growing company, it is to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Often, it is the little things that can easily slip by, and no matter how little they are, it could add up to a big problem.
Keep in mind the old saying: “what gets measured gets done.” But let’s be real, you don’t possibly have the time to go over every little detail to make sure that everything was done just so.
Under the Microscope
The thing is, you don’t have the time to check on every single detail, and those around you wouldn’t like it if you did. Doing so is classic micro-managing. Not only will it consume all your time, it will antagonize everyone around you, as well. But there is something you can do that keeps your finger on the pulse, without all the hand-holding. It involves what I like to refer to as “checkpoints.”
In any project, you can insert checkpoints that help ensure that all of the desired elements have been handled in accordance with your wishes. For example, the rock band Van Halen is famous for not allowing brown “M&Ms” backstage. Perhaps some would say they were divas, but if you look more closely, you will see that there is a lot more to it.
The Little Things
You can imagine how lengthy a contract is for a band touring across the country. The set-up and tear-down for each concert venue involves a team of people, semi-trucks of equipment, and a lot of organization to make sure everything is carried out as it should be.
It would be crazy for Van Halen to have someone constantly going over every detail of the contract to make sure that all of its provisions were met. So being the smart rockers they are, they added in an important checkpoint. Their checkpoint was the stipulation that they always had to have M&M’s backstage, but that there could never be any brown ones. Putting on a successful concert depends, at least in part, upon the terms of their contract being met. All of the terms. Otherwise, they may not have the sound, stage and show that it takes to awe the audience.
The M&M checkpoint that Van Halen uses in their contract helps them to quickly determine whether or not their entire contract had been properly and fully executed. And with a mere, yet oh-so-delicious treat, Van Halen can tell if the details are being taken care of or not.
Checking the Checkpoints
With the M&M stipulation buried in the contract as a checkpoint, the company who signed the contract with the band was agreeing to have the candy served backstage – but the contract also explicitly stated that the brown ones had to be removed. So, when the powers that be were ready to check out the details of the set-up, they checked out the candy dish.
If the M&M’s were there, absent the brown ones as required, then they knew the venue staff had read and executed even the nitty gritty. That was enough to give Van Halen a strong sense of confidence that the entire venue was properly set up.
On the other hand, if the M&M’s were absent, or were served with the brown ones still in the mix, the band immediately knew that there were problems. That detail served as a big red flag that other details might have been missed or skipped, as well.
So here is the trick: bury simple indicators within the details of the contracts and projects you are working on. That way, you can easily verify whether they were completed. If those you deal with pass your checkpoint, chances are that things are good throughout. If they don’t, well, you may have to micromanage, after all.
Mike Michalowicz is the Author of the business cult-classic, The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur and is a columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Michalowicz has built three multi-million dollar companies, is a frequent expert guest on MSNBC, CNBC, ABC and other television networks, and is a nationally renowned speaker. His website is http://www.ToiletPaperEntrepreneur.com and his book is available at Amazon.com and all major book stores.