Organizational Capacity – Constraints or Excuses?

We all know the structural elements to organizational capacity; finances, equipment, facilities, processes, technology, people, market access and the list goes on. All these elements need to be aligned to ensure your organization has the capacity to reach its growth goals. The elements will take turns being the biggest constraint, but they can always be overcome – they are constraints, not end points. Excuses on the other hand can be end points, they can derail simple and ambitious plans.

Excuses that are end points happen when a leader starts making excuses. A leader’s excuse lets everyone off the hook and allows individuals and teams to easily align their missed goals to the bigger excuse made by the leader. This activity immediately cuts off capacity and creates a roadblock to success.

Competent leadership knows the difference between a constraint and an excuse and knows that both can be overcome. Never making excuses is not easy, because leaders are human too, and being on point 100% of the time is almost impossible. This is where the strength of teams can help. An aligned high-performing team keeps each other in check. This includes the CEO, because in a high-functioning leadership team all the members hold each other accountable. It is unlikely that everyone will have an off day or week at the same time so the odds of the entire team throwing in the cards and making excuses why they can’t reach the goals they all aspire to is very remote.

In a past career, I had a leadership team that was divided on the path forward and we were making excuses, so at that point our manufacturing company looked like every competitor and was challenged by a declining market. Eventually we found a common focal point which was that all our clients were asking for better service.

Investing in the technology and process changes required for improved service meant less money available for product development, glossy brochures, and client entertainment. Therefore, coming to agreement was a challenge and meant compromise, but when we did align everything changed. Excuses became constraints and constraints became solvable problems. It wasn’t easy work in a declining market, but our decisions were quick and aligned so we created the capacity to do what we needed to do, and it led to increased profitability and a massive increase in market share.

If you want to increase your organization’s capacity to grow and achieve its ambitious goals start with creating a strong leadership team that is aligned and committed to a achieving those goals.