Imagine a work day where every meeting, every task, every tool, and every communication has a positive impact on your business’s ROI. It’s the holy grail for business leaders—no wasted time, no wasted money, just pure efficiency. But unlike the search for the holy grail, we know that the efforts you put into business efficiency—your business’s ability to reduce the time, effort, and materials used to produce a high-quality service or product—can result in a tangible outcome (for those of us who aren’t Indiana Jones).
Your business has likely already tried cost-cutting programs, and there’s a good chance they didn’t have the intended impact. The problem is that less than 30 percent of cost-cutting programs hit their targets, largely due to a lack of data and insight into the effects of those programs. It’s ironic, but many businesses waste time and money looking for ways to stop wasting time and money.
It may seem counterintuitive, but the best way to achieve business efficiency is to involve more people in the process. Rather than limiting your employees' input on the workflows they implement daily, you should lean in to their insights. With the right approach and the right tools, you can leverage the collective intelligence of your entire organization to identify what’s slowing the business down and hurting the bottom line.
What does the data say?
Don’t make any decisions around business efficiency without the data to back it up. You may have a gut that’s never failed you, but in order for your employees to understand and support your decisions, you need data.
But where does that data come from, and who’s interpreting it? Many businesses hire consultants to collect and analyze quantitative data on their employees, and some even have data analysts on staff. Looking at productivity stats, OKRs, and pulse survey data can be a great way to paint a picture of your business, as long as you’re dumping all this information on someone who loves data analysis.
However, while these data give you a broad view of your operations, they miss out on the nuance. Yes, a skilled data analyst can comb through acres of spreadsheets to find the sticky points—and they may even enjoy doing so. That’s not the same—and potentially not as accurate—as getting employee input on the tasks slowing them down daily.
Next we’ll look at three areas to tackle when increasing your business efficiency and how collective intelligence can solve for streamlining and optimizing your operations.
Get more nuanced data with ThoughtExchange
Accessing your people’s collective intelligence through ThoughtExchange can get you data that only exists in your employees’ heads. It allows employees to share precisely what hinders their productivity, and creates a collaborative discussion space so that employees can gain better insight into what’s stalling their teammates.
Using ThoughtExchange to access business efficiency data taps into your employees’ expertise in their fields and aligns them on the actions you choose to take. And it doesn’t take a data analyst to interpret the results—the software does all that for you.
1. Automation and integration
The first items to rise to the top of your data will likely be the tasks slowing business processes down. These are the obvious places to start when it comes to implementing business efficiency. When was the last time you asked your employees to identify any blocks in their workflows?
With collective intelligence, you can re-engineer processes to remove redundant activities. Employees can help identify the tasks that decrease their efficiency and recommend eliminating or reworking them. Using ThoughtExchange, your team can identify tasks impacting your group’s productivity rather than relying on individual complaints to signal an issue. If a piece of software or a step in the sales process is holding employees back, you’ll see it rise to the top of the priority list as employees rate each other’s answers.
A multinational software company uses ThoughtExchange to identify which processes prevent them from hitting their growth targets. A recent Exchange revealed their quoting process was a big stumbling block for sales, slowing their ability to deliver contracts and resulting in impatient customers. Their employees assigned high ratings to the thoughts about quoting, demonstrating that the issue was widespread on their sales team.
With this information in hand, the organization can take effective action to streamline the quoting process, improving their customer experience and freeing up time for additional selling.
2. Meetings, meetings, meetings
Meetings also become less productive as the participation count grows—they can turn into sit-and-learns and stifle ideas because most people don’t feel comfortable sharing in front of a large group. Smaller meetings are subject to selection bias and won’t get the breadth of perspectives needed for an equitable and effective solution.
Nothing can replace the collaborative experience of meetings, but it’s important to ensure they’re an efficient use of everyone’s time. The collective intelligence approach means using a platform like ThoughtExchange to connect with your team and understand the group’s priorities before the meeting starts. Instead of spending an hour with 20 people hashing it out and trying to figure out what actions everyone can get behind, have everyone participate in an Exchange and output a list of supported actions—in just a few minutes. Do you even need that meeting?
As an added bonus, with more organizations moving to remote and flexible work across global offices, using ThoughtExchange allows these conversations to happen asynchronously, regardless of time zone.
A healthcare services organization with a large workforce built ThoughtExchange into its leadership onboarding program. They aimed to cut down on the hours their new leaders spent in meetings while delivering better insights into their new teams and departments to inform their 30-60-90 plans and set them up for success.
As a result of running Exchanges with employees to gather insights for their new leadership, they saw a 70 percent reduction in the time and money they spent on meetings. Their onboarding program is more efficient, includes more employee perspectives, and delivers more effective insights for new leaders.
3. Aligning on strategy
What does it take for your organization to develop, implement, and improve strategy? For many organizations, it takes months, millions, and it’s a rocky road—according to Forbes, there’s a 50/50 chance your team’s hard work on strategy will lead to failure. There are many reasons for the dismal success rate, and when we take out the financial factors, most of them come down to insufficient alignment due to poor communication, siloed teams, and lack of clarity.
Utilizing collective intelligence solves almost all factors that lead to failed strategy. With ThoughtExchange, you can get from ideation to implementation faster. At each stage, you can access your team’s best ideas, ensuring that every employee feels like the group has considered their ideas.
An Exchange gives employees an unbiased space to share their ideas on strategy and consider their teammates’ thoughts. This process aligns them with the group’s priorities and increases their support for the top-rated ideas even if they disagree—simply because they’ve been asked to give their input. You get data from your teams of in-house experts instead of from a bevy of high-paid consultants, and the decisions you make are more likely to be supported by your employees.
During implementation, you can run Exchanges with your teams to see the obstacles pop up before they cause your strategy to fail. Instead of endless meetings and discerning whether the squeaky wheel needs grease, you can access your entire team’s insights in just a few minutes and better understand what needs to improve as you execute strategy.
Realizing business efficiency through collective intelligence
Business efficiency is what can make or break your organization. If your business is struggling with a lack of alignment on strategy, poor performance, or a siloed culture, it’s vital to find ways to bring employees together to address and remedy the issues. You can hire consultants, send out surveys, and spend hours in meetings—or you can use a platform designed to access your organization’s collective intelligence.
ThoughtExchange’s unique software platform makes it easy to gain consensus from your workforce on more efficient workflows and ensure everyone’s working for the same goals. Every day, our enterprise customers are tapping into their teams to ideate, implement, and improve their data, processes, and strategy, so the market never catches them off guard.