Last week we talked about how to implement closed-loop accountability in your business. You’ll know you have closed-loop accountability when everyone on your team knows what needs to get done, by whom, when and why. And, they’ll each feel equipped to solve problems on their own, instead of being told what to do.
This week, we’re going to build on another concept – the dreaded one-point failure. Think of it from a systems perspective. If a single point of a networked system fails, the entire system fails. The same is true for your business.
A one-point failure is when only one person on your team knows how to complete a task, or has specialized knowledge that no one else on your team has. If this person ever left your team or had an unexpected event that takes them away from their work, you would be left scrambling to pick up the pieces.
Systems need built-in redundancies to ensure one-point failures can’t happen. You may be thinking in terms of computers and IT with this, but it applies to the systematic execution of your business too.
Instead of that one individual completely owning and managing a task or process, you can have them cross-train a teammate or two. In doing so, you have eliminated the one-point failure. The cross-trained teammates may not have the complete depth or specialization that the original teammate had, but that’s okay. The basics of what is needed to keep your business going is what’s most important.
How can you find one-point failures in your business?
· Look through your business model. Is there anyone with a specific skill set that others rely on? Or someone that performs a particular function that holds your team together?
· Is there one individual that is responsible for generating a bulk of your revenue? Or solely responsible for a specific task(s) in your operations?
· Is there one supplier or vendor you rely heavily upon to accomplish your business? What happens if they shut down or can’t deliver to you?
In that last example, it’s important to point out that a one-point failure extends beyond your employee team, too. Whatever your business is dependent on—if it exists without backups or redundancies—is a potential point of failure. To manage through these risks, imagine what would happen if that person or supplier didn’t show up. What are the impacts? What skill sets or processes would you have to manage through? Identify these now, and start setting up workarounds. Should the unexpected happen, you’ll be glad you did.