What Santa teaches us about business management
With the festive season drawing to a close, this is a great opportunity for businesses owners to reflect on the year that has passed. Evaluating the successes of your business, the goals you have achieved, and the challenges you faced will place you in a good position to start 2017 with clear aims for the year ahead.
This post is my attempt at holding on to the festive season a little longer. We look at how Santa (as arguably one of the most productive (not for profit) business owners in modern history) carries out business, and consider what this can teach us about improving productivity within our own businesses.
The story of Santa
Over the centuries, the story of St. Nicholas has evolved into what we commonly see depicted today. A jolly gentleman from the North Pole named Santa Claus, whose aim is to deliver presents to millions (more likely billions) of children across the world – all in one night.
One can only theorise how such a daunting task would be possible. As this is a business blog, we’ll stay away from quantum mechanics and the theory of relatively and focus more generally on what these modern-day depictions can teach business owners on how to maximise productivity and manage seemingly impossible tasks – just like Santa.
Planning for Christmas
Unlike Santa, many business owners do not have the luxury of 364 days’ worth of planning before undertaking a project. Nevertheless, robust planning is key to the successful delivery of any project. Identifying key milestones, assigning responsibilities and setting clear deadlines will ensure that each stage of the project is kept on track.
We can be sure that Santa has a few tricks up his sleeve to ensure delivery of all those presents in just one night. For example, Santa has probably come to realise that he could extend his deadline by 48 hours by travelling west from the International Date Line. Very clever!
We know Santa likes to keep lists, particularly of the good and naughty children. We can assume that Santa keeps these lists in a cloud based storage solution to keep them safe and secure, so they are easy to access and update every year, even when enjoying a summer break in the Bahamas.
We can also assume Santa makes an excellent project manager, which leads us on to the team who are responsible for making the presents.
Manufacturing the toys
I’m sure the elves are a productive bunch under the supervision of Santa. What we would hope is that they enjoy what they do – a big productivity driver. Teamwork and communication between them will ensure that Christmas wish-lists are fulfilled, and the children receive the gifts they hoped for. Of course, one important matter is complying with all quality compliance and health and safety issues during the toy manufacturing process. The elves will likely be divided into appropriate teams to deal not only with the manufacturing process, but also ensure quality control and timely completion of toy manufacturing.
The supply and delivery chains
Importing manufacturing equipment and toy parts into the North Pole is probably no easy task. Admittedly, I’m lost on this point and can only chalk this down to having a reliable and resilient supply chain network, with solid business continuity processes in place if something were to go wrong with a supplier.
What we do know is that Santa has a solid and dependable delivery partner in order to get the toys where they need to be. His eight reindeer are well looked after, and this number provides a buffer should one or more be unwell or on annual leave during the festive period.
Without knowing the form or corporate governance of Santa’s business, I’m sure having Mrs Clause as a business partner is one of the key drivers to Santa’s success. Having a reliable person who supports the business during the most demanding times of the year is invaluable. Going at business alone can be tough, but spreading the burden amongst people you trust to support you is essential in business.
The year ahead
As Santa comes to enjoy a few days of well-deserved rest, many business owners are likely doing the same. The time for planning for 2017 is nearing, and we should soon start looking at how to maximise productivity in our own businesses. If, like many, you set yourself a New Year’s resolution, why not try setting a business resolution. Identify your key business objective for 2017, and make achieving this your priority in the coming months.
marketpreneurs wish you and your business a Happy New Year and all the best for 2017!