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How to Operationalize Your Business in Four Easy Steps

September 29, 2022

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In the sciences, operationalizing means defining a phenomenon that isn’t easily quantifiable but is undeniably present. Like explaining how confidence can get you more dates or how athletes enter “the zone.” It’s intangible and unmeasurable, but you know it’s there. Fortunately, operationalizing is a lot easier to observe and evaluate in the business world and, if done right, can help your business win consistently.

So what is operationalizing? As Path for Growth founder Alex Judd puts it in this Instagram reel, it’s the process of making excellence repeatable and intentional instead of accidental and unpredictable. Meaning, it’s a methodical way of making sure you can create consistent success instead of just happening on it once in a while.

How does a company go about doing this? We sat down with Alex Judd, who explained the four easy steps your business can take.

Step 1: Standardize

In this case, standardizing doesn’t mean setting a uniform way of doing things like Taco Bell does with its cheesy gordita assembly line. It’s a one-word way of saying “define success.” That is, setting a winning standard that your company strives to live up to.

A woman with a microphone singing, "All I do is win, win, win, no matter what."

“You owe it to your people to clearly communicate what you’re expecting in terms of success, and you have no excuse to be frustrated when you don’t communicate,” says Judd. “Most leaders look around and say what they don’t want instead of clarifying what they do want.”

That starts with what Judd calls success statements — listing three to five outcomes you expect from any task your company undertakes. So, before you start a meeting, lay out a few things you want to happen that would make the meeting a success. Then do the same thing for projects, roles, sales campaigns, or any other initiatives. This step is essentially a take on the old cliché about never knowing when you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you’re going.

“Start the process by saying, ‘What does winning look like?’” says Judd. “That standard is the finished product, and you need a defined, clarified benchmark for what winning looks like.”

Step 2: Document

You can’t really call something a standard unless it’s documented in a way that’s clear and accessible to your people. We’ll repeat two of those keywords in case you were skimming: CLEAR and ACCESSIBLE.

“People screw up when they set these standards, then throw them in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet only they have access to,” says Judd. “This is why we fell in love with Trainual.”

Gosh, Alex, we’re flattered.

Adulation aside, Judd says his team at Path for Growth uses Trainual as a way of documenting standards for everything from producing podcasts to conducting coaching calls. His team is conditioned to enter any new standard into Trainual so the entire company has access to it, and can reference it easily without having to go through an entire chain of command. That way, even a 20-year-old intern can update Trainual with new standards and processes without any lag time. It creates a culture of operationalization and makes processes flexible and instantly improvable.

“The best practice can always be made better,” Judd says. “We’re hesitant to abandon the standard, but we can abandon the process because we find one better than what we’re currently using.”

Step 3: Evaluate

A man approaches, asking, "So, how are we doing?"

You can set the standard, and you can document the standard, but that doesn’t mean you always reach the standard. And to figure out if your team is performing up to the level you’ve set, you’ve gotta evaluate if what you’re doing is working. This can be a pretty subjective process because even when you’ve set a standard of excellence, everyone may still have a different interpretation of what it means. So Judd suggests breaking down each standard into a series of evaluation questions with only three possible answers.

“After a one-on-one call, the first thing (our team) receives is a form where they evaluate themselves on success statements,” says Judd. These statements are things like, “Was this call led in a way that was smooth?” Then, the evaluator rates it on a red-yellow-green scale, where red means the statement was not true, yellow means it was inconsistent, and green means it was always true.

This helps evaluation and accountability, as managers can easily identify and correct behavior that’s not up to the winning standard. The key, Judd says, is to evaluate the behavior and not the person, as one is easily fixed and the other may not be. Also, have a consistent rhythm of ongoing evaluation so people can track their improvement.

Step 4: Improve

Once you’ve established standards, documented them, and have ongoing evaluations, you’ve now created a company culture that’s far less likely to fall victim to stagnation. When your team understands that even the best practices can be made better, people won’t become complacent and instead will constantly be looking for ways to improve.

Even when you’re successful — even beyond your wildest imagination — the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work in today’s business climate. So creating a culture where things are always fluid and improving is key in operationalizing your business.

“You want to create a culture where people refuse to say, ‘That’s how we’ve always done it,’” says Judd. “It needs to become a never-ending perpetual game of constantly raising the bar of what excellence is.”

What he’s saying, essentially, is that once you’ve gone through the first three steps, use all the information you gather to find ways to get even better. And at every opportunity, share these lessons with your team and with your customers.

By following these steps deliberately and intentionally, you can operationalize your business and make winning a regular thing. It’s not rocket science — none of the stuff we’ve laid out here is particularly complicated or complex. It just involves defining what winning looks like, writing it down, seeing if it works, and getting better. And if your team can pick up on that, winning will follow soon.

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Article

How to Operationalize Your Business in Four Easy Steps

September 29, 2022

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In the sciences, operationalizing means defining a phenomenon that isn’t easily quantifiable but is undeniably present. Like explaining how confidence can get you more dates or how athletes enter “the zone.” It’s intangible and unmeasurable, but you know it’s there. Fortunately, operationalizing is a lot easier to observe and evaluate in the business world and, if done right, can help your business win consistently.

So what is operationalizing? As Path for Growth founder Alex Judd puts it in this Instagram reel, it’s the process of making excellence repeatable and intentional instead of accidental and unpredictable. Meaning, it’s a methodical way of making sure you can create consistent success instead of just happening on it once in a while.

How does a company go about doing this? We sat down with Alex Judd, who explained the four easy steps your business can take.

Step 1: Standardize

In this case, standardizing doesn’t mean setting a uniform way of doing things like Taco Bell does with its cheesy gordita assembly line. It’s a one-word way of saying “define success.” That is, setting a winning standard that your company strives to live up to.

A woman with a microphone singing, "All I do is win, win, win, no matter what."

“You owe it to your people to clearly communicate what you’re expecting in terms of success, and you have no excuse to be frustrated when you don’t communicate,” says Judd. “Most leaders look around and say what they don’t want instead of clarifying what they do want.”

That starts with what Judd calls success statements — listing three to five outcomes you expect from any task your company undertakes. So, before you start a meeting, lay out a few things you want to happen that would make the meeting a success. Then do the same thing for projects, roles, sales campaigns, or any other initiatives. This step is essentially a take on the old cliché about never knowing when you’ve arrived if you don’t know where you’re going.

“Start the process by saying, ‘What does winning look like?’” says Judd. “That standard is the finished product, and you need a defined, clarified benchmark for what winning looks like.”

Step 2: Document

You can’t really call something a standard unless it’s documented in a way that’s clear and accessible to your people. We’ll repeat two of those keywords in case you were skimming: CLEAR and ACCESSIBLE.

“People screw up when they set these standards, then throw them in the bottom drawer of a filing cabinet only they have access to,” says Judd. “This is why we fell in love with Trainual.”

Gosh, Alex, we’re flattered.

Adulation aside, Judd says his team at Path for Growth uses Trainual as a way of documenting standards for everything from producing podcasts to conducting coaching calls. His team is conditioned to enter any new standard into Trainual so the entire company has access to it, and can reference it easily without having to go through an entire chain of command. That way, even a 20-year-old intern can update Trainual with new standards and processes without any lag time. It creates a culture of operationalization and makes processes flexible and instantly improvable.

“The best practice can always be made better,” Judd says. “We’re hesitant to abandon the standard, but we can abandon the process because we find one better than what we’re currently using.”

Step 3: Evaluate

A man approaches, asking, "So, how are we doing?"

You can set the standard, and you can document the standard, but that doesn’t mean you always reach the standard. And to figure out if your team is performing up to the level you’ve set, you’ve gotta evaluate if what you’re doing is working. This can be a pretty subjective process because even when you’ve set a standard of excellence, everyone may still have a different interpretation of what it means. So Judd suggests breaking down each standard into a series of evaluation questions with only three possible answers.

“After a one-on-one call, the first thing (our team) receives is a form where they evaluate themselves on success statements,” says Judd. These statements are things like, “Was this call led in a way that was smooth?” Then, the evaluator rates it on a red-yellow-green scale, where red means the statement was not true, yellow means it was inconsistent, and green means it was always true.

This helps evaluation and accountability, as managers can easily identify and correct behavior that’s not up to the winning standard. The key, Judd says, is to evaluate the behavior and not the person, as one is easily fixed and the other may not be. Also, have a consistent rhythm of ongoing evaluation so people can track their improvement.

Step 4: Improve

Once you’ve established standards, documented them, and have ongoing evaluations, you’ve now created a company culture that’s far less likely to fall victim to stagnation. When your team understands that even the best practices can be made better, people won’t become complacent and instead will constantly be looking for ways to improve.

Even when you’re successful — even beyond your wildest imagination — the mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work in today’s business climate. So creating a culture where things are always fluid and improving is key in operationalizing your business.

“You want to create a culture where people refuse to say, ‘That’s how we’ve always done it,’” says Judd. “It needs to become a never-ending perpetual game of constantly raising the bar of what excellence is.”

What he’s saying, essentially, is that once you’ve gone through the first three steps, use all the information you gather to find ways to get even better. And at every opportunity, share these lessons with your team and with your customers.

By following these steps deliberately and intentionally, you can operationalize your business and make winning a regular thing. It’s not rocket science — none of the stuff we’ve laid out here is particularly complicated or complex. It just involves defining what winning looks like, writing it down, seeing if it works, and getting better. And if your team can pick up on that, winning will follow soon.

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How to Operationalize Your Business in Four Easy Steps

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