Balancing Accountability with Autonomy

By Douglas Weinstein
Published on: March 5, 2021

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In the ever-evolving world of the CI industry, a young industry with respect to other more established industries, change happens rapidly. And over the past decade we’ve seen individual companies respond to those changes – some have decided to band together to form new companies with regional or national aspirations. Others have joined buying groups to strengthen their purchasing power and profitability. Others have incorporated and focused on processes to streamline their operations. Many have embraced commercial projects and some have expanded into on-line sales.

Expecting and reacting to the ever changing landscape, dealers have had to adjust and alter their strategic ambitions. And to do so, they have had to re-design and adjust their operating model. These operating models go beyond just the layers of their organizational chart. They include the adjustment of processes and procedures, attracting key talent, and looking where and when to outsource specific company initiatives – from accounting to marketing to social media.

So, a well-designed and well-detailed operating model involves many things. Including accountability. And autonomy. Who has authority to make decisions, regardless of the department they work in? Who has P & L and/or purchasing authority? Who are your first responders for service issues and what authority do they have to resolve client issues? As dealers, like most small business operators, moving to a more agile operating model means that  leadership needs to learn how to balance accountability with autonomy.

Overall operation control includes the need to motivate and inspire your team, and to hold them accountable for doing their jobs. Forward-thinking leaders define metrics and share long-range planning, resource allocation and departmental budgets. At the same time, small business owners must be prepared to give their employees full autonomy to carry out their tasks, without micro-managing every aspect of the business – which, unfortunately for small business owners, runs counter to typical SMB owner personalities traits.

In a nutshell, regardless of what your integration firm prides itself on (and sells itself on!), you need to continually adjust your operating model to react to market and technology innovations, while simultaneously defining roles and responsibilities. And then, finally, giving your team the autonomy they need to execute your vision.

Douglas Weinstein

Doug is the Editor and co-founder of the Technology Insider Group and Technology Designer Magazine. Previously, he was the Executive Director and co-founder of the Elf Foundation, a non-profit organization that created Room of Magic entertainment theaters in children's hospitals across North America.

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