One of the issues faced by consultants in the business world today, regardless of the niche, is finding the Bottle-neck factory:  locating the source of road blocks and clearing the debris (or building roads around them).

Many times, especially in a fast growing company, fundamental road-blocks and bottle-necks occur in the day to day process of accomplishing the end goals of the business.  Customers/clients do not get timely responses, vendors cannot access the individual responsible for taking care of their needs of approval and payment, and reports are late or not as accurate as may be hoped for.  Some employees finish their work in half the time of others.  How do you find the bottle-necks and show your client how best to “fix” them?

In the quest of getting employees motivated enough to deliver what is required of them in a consistent, reliable manner; the company needs to make an effort to clarify its specific goals.  Beyond “what do we do”,  does the staff have a clear, concise picture of what the company believes sets it apart from the competition?  Does each and every employee know what his/her contribution is to the success of the company or why the work assigned is so important?  In other words, is each employee aware of his/her part in the “big picture” and does he/she feel valued regarding that contribution?

There is a growing movement in small and large companies to develop something called “Accountability Agreements”.  This goes beyond the older style of performance reviews.  It actually helps a company develop an organizational tree so that each employee and each department knows how he/she/they “fit” in the overall business goals of the company.  It is, in some ways, a laborious project and requires a time commitment to set up and maintain the model.  It can be interesting to discover that persons important to the fulfillment of a particular employee’s tasks literally have no clue regarding their part in that particular process.

Working through a company accountability project creates something that is fundamental to the survival of any institution – communication.  From an employee’s point of view it provides a comprehensive assessment of what he/she is expected to do, where the required information is supposed to come from, and where that information is supposed to go.  It can help supervisors design work loads better suited to specific groups within a department.  It communicates to employees what their part in the enterprise is and communicates a sense of significance of the work produced.  It also helps a company define the gaps in any particular process so that a course of action can be taken to fill that gap with specific talent or dedicated time from internal sources.

For the independent consultant such an exercise highlights the critical gaps in the functions of a company and offers insight as to how to resolve many persistent problems.