This week’s guest post comes from Alexandra Suchman, founder of AIS Collaborations.

Why Small Businesses Need to Learn to Love Business Operations

My clients tend to be creative, passionate, right-brained thinkers for whom words like “operations,” “systems”, and “infrastructure” are like nails on a chalkboard. Since my business is helping other small businesses achieve their missions with less stress, clutter, and tediousness, I knew I needed a good visual analogy help me illustrate the role of the operations infrastructure in any workplace and make the case for why investing time, thought, and resources into operations is critical!

The Skeleton Theory

Consider this: the operations of a business are like the skeletal system in a body. The bones that make up a skeleton are the infrastructure components in the body, and without the bones maintaining the basic shape, the other body parts – legs, arms, torso, head – can’t move.

Dancing Skeletons

The same is true in a business: without the proper “skeleton” of basic organization units in place, like the structure of departments or function areas, the rest of the organization can’t move or function properly.  Without a proper, well-organized skeleton, no one would know where they fit in, what they were supposed to do, or how to do it.

Without the proper “skeleton” of basic organization units in place, like the structure of departments or function areas, the rest of the organization can’t move or function properly. Click To Tweet

Now here is where my analogy goes deeper: the skeletal system is made up of more than just bones, and it does more than just serve as the body’s inner scaffolding. The bones are surrounded by a network of ligaments, cartilage, and tendons that connect the bones to each other and make up the joints. The joints enable the skeletal system to move each body part, either individually or in coordination with other body parts, which allows the body to work as a unit and carry out all the activities we do.

In a business, the plans and processes for how each role or division operates play the role of the joints. They address critical functions such as office supply purchasing requests, professional development and training, phone and communication technologies, file sharing and knowledge management, templates and tools for routine services and deliverables, project management, and internal databases. These processes not only enable each unit to work independently, but coordinate the unit to work together toward the overall mission of the company. The operations system establishes the relationships between units, making it possible for them to support and communicate with one another.

This makes the operations critical for workplace success.

As anyone who’s had a hip replaced or torn a rotator cuff can attest, a breakdown of the joints is debilitating for the whole body. In order to prevent joint strain, people adopt protective and preventative habits such as exercise, stretching, eating certain foods, wearing supportive bandages or braces, and getting massages in order to keep the joints strong, flexible, and intact. The same type of deliberate attention should be paid to the operational plans and processes in a company.

As any athlete knows, to reach peak performance, you have to maintain a healthy body, from the bones to the joints and beyond.  Likewise, a healthy company requires a healthy infrastructure, coupled with well thought out processes and procedures to ensure ease of production and collaboration.

Alexandra SuchmanAlexandra Suchman, founder of AIS Collaborations, works with mission-driven small businesses and nonprofits to make the day-to-day operations and management less painful and tedious through simple processes, freeing you up focus on making a difference in the world. Think of her like a closet organizer, tune-up mechanic, and personal trainer all-in-one, dedicated to helping your workplace overcome the recurring obstacles that can turn even the most interesting job into a series of tedious chores. Alex will help you uncover the root cause of the problems and identify the best way to solve it.

Read more about the skeleton theory of business operations here!