Eliminate Distractions: Cut the Slack, Part 1 – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

Eliminate Distractions: Cut the Slack, Part 1 – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast


– No matter the size of the organization that you serve or lead, I’m certain that there
are times when progress is slowed and decisions get bogged down. That’s why in this episode
we’re talking about eliminating distractions in a podcast I’ve entitled “Cut the Slack.” – [Woman] This is the Craig
Groeschel Leadership Podcast. – Hey, welcome to another episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I’m really honored and excited that you spend a little bit of time with me. We believe that your leadership can get better 20 minutes at a time. That’s right, 20 minutes unless I get long winded and excited
and go 22, 23 minutes. Who knows what might happen? We could get crazy in this episode. If you’re new with us, what we do is we release a brand new Leadership Podcast on the first Thursday of every month. So I would love to encourage
you to hit subscribe right now and this podcast
will come directly to you. Also, if you want to go over
the notes with team members, I know a lot of people
get together with business leaders from their community
or staff members and such, just go to life.church/leadershippodcast, let us know, and we’ll
email you the notes. They’ll come to you each time
we release a new podcast. If this is helpful to you,
it would mean the world to me if you would share this, invite others to be a part of it. Thank you for sharing on social media. It’s helpful to get the word out because everyone wins when the leader gets better. Let’s dive into content
that I hope will be helpful to you as a leader and
in your organization. Here’s what I know
about your organization. If you’re like any other
business, nonprofit, family, or whatever, you have real
inefficiencies in what you do. We all do. We’ve got overly-complicated systems, unnecessary policies,
excessive procedures, sometimes inefficient meetings,
and the list goes on and on. In fact, to set up the
teaching today I’m gonna give you an imaginary
example of the kind of thing that happens in our organizations
almost every single day. I’ll give you four
characters in this example. There will be a boss, an assistant, an intern, and a supervisor,
and watch how many different times this conversation gets bogged down in what I call slack, slack. Here’s the example. A boss wants to know if an intern is interested in a project, so the boss emails the assistant to inquire about the intern’s interest, but the assistant is away
from the office at the dentist and doesn’t check email until the evening. Slack. Then the assistant waits
until the morning to text the intern’s supervisor about the intern. Slack. The supervisor’s in meetings all day. Slack. Early afternoon the
supervisor sends a clarifying question to the boss’s assistant,
but the boss is traveling, so the assistant doesn’t talk to the boss until the following day. More slack. The next day the assistant
asks the boss a question, the boss gives an answer,
the assistant writes down a reminder to send the
response to the supervisor, but doesn’t do so until
late in the evening. More slack. The supervisor doesn’t check
email until the following day. Slack. And realizes the intern
is a qualified candidate, but the intern’s out
of town for a wedding. So the supervisor presents the opportunity to the intern early on Monday,
and the intern is excited, but since she’s a newlywed she wants to talk to her husband about it. The intern comes in the next
day, slack, slack, slack, slack, slack, and says, let’s do it. So the supervisor of the
intern reaches out to the boss’s assistant and says, good news, but the boss has investors in
town and can’t deal with it, so the assistant has to wait until the next day, slack, again. After who knows how many days. You have these kinda things
in your organization, I know you do, I do in mine. Finally, the assistant tells
the boss the intern is in, and the boss apologizes,
looks a little bit confused, and says, oh my gosh,
since it took so long we decided not to do the project at all. Slack, slack, slack, slack. Big question. Why is morale down and progress so slow in so many organizations? What is the problem? The problem is there’s too much slack. Every time there’s an unnecessary delay, every time an email sits
on a computer waiting, every time there’s an extra
step, an additional meeting, or another signature
required, that’s called slack. That’s why in this episode we’re gonna talk about cutting the slack. Now, what is slack? Webster defines it this way. Slack is sluggishness or lack of energy, characterized by slowness,
not tight or taut, blowing or flowing at low speed. I like that. Some of you, you’re blowin’
or flowin’ at low speed. Organizationally, here’s
my definition for slack. Slack is any activity
that absorbs resources, but creates little to no value. What is slack? Any activity that absorbs resources, but creates little to no value. Slack is the lost time between the question and the response. Slack is the missed opportunity before the need is actually met by the supply. Slack is the extra cost between what’s necessary and what is actually wasted. It’s the extra steps, it’s
the unnecessary rules, it’s the burdensome policies
costing your organization more than you could possibly imagine. What are some of the costs
of organizational slack? Organizational slack costs us. It cripples progress. It frustrates your team members more than you could ever imagine. It depletes morale. It erodes the quality of whatever you do. It increases expenses. It decreases profit. It robs you of impact. Here’s the bottom line. You could do more, you could produce more, you could help more people,
but more of your time, more of your money, more
of your energy is going to slack and not to your
stated goals and objectives. Now, why do we experience
organizational slack? Why do we have so much of it? Because slack is a natural evolution of a company or organization. In fact, what do we know
about all organizations? Organizations never
drift toward simplicity. Let me say it again, this is important. Organizations, your nonprofit,
your business, your startup, whatever, they never
drift toward simplicity. No one ever says, oh my
gosh, we doubled in size and we accidentally became more efficient. What do we know? Growth creates complexity,
and complexity kills growth. Let me say it again, this is so important. Growth naturally creates complexity, and when something becomes overly complex, eventually that kills growth. What I want to do is I
want to talk about cutting the slack both organizationally
and personally. In this episode we’re gonna
stick to organizationally. In our next month’s
episode we’re gonna talk about it personally as it applies to you. Now, when it comes to
organizational slack, what is our goal? We have one goal and one goal only. Here’s our goal. What we want to do is
simplify or eliminate all policies, processes, or
unnecessary steps that take too much time, cost too much,
and add too little value. Let me say it again because
it’s very important. We want to simplify or
eliminate all policies, processes, unnecessary steps
that take too much time, cost too much, and add too little value. Why? Because if you’re overrun
with complicated processes and rules you’re gonna find yourself
bogging down in every way. Why do we have so many of these policies? Well, whenever someone makes a mistake, what’s the natural response? Someone usually makes a policy. Someone messes something up,
so someone creates a new rule. In fact, Jason Fried calls policies organizational scar tissue. What is a policy? It’s often organizational scar tissue. In fact, he says policies are
organizational scar tissues. They are codified overreactions to unlikely-to-happen-again situations. What do we see over and over again? Someone makes a mistake, and so, instead of managing the
person who made the mistake, we create a policy making it
more difficult for everyone else who’s not likely to
make that very same mistake. In fact, this is just for fun, but whenever I see a rule or a policy in a business that doesn’t make any sense, I always wonder what
stupid person did something that was idiotic that
ended up in this rule? In fact, in my state, I live
in the state of Oklahoma, I just looked up some of the
stupid laws, and they’re crazy. This is just for fun. In Schulter, Okalahoma, I
don’t even know where that is, but women may not gamble in the nude, in lingerie, or in a towel. Who in the world did something
so that rule is real? Now, my question is, can men do that because the rule says women can’t? In Clinton, Oklahoma molesting
an automobile is illegal. I don’t even want to close my
eyes right now, I’m disgusted. One more law, hunting for
whales is illegal in Oklahoma. For those of you that are in
an international audience, there’s not an ocean for
several states away from us. What a rule. Anyway, there’s your policy. As leaders, here’s what we wanna do. We want to be careful not to overreact to problems or mistakes. That sounds really simple, and it is, but we need to apply it
because if we’re not careful what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna create unnecessary procedures, cumbersome rules, and complicated processes. What we’re gonna do is
we’re gonna create slack, unintentionally, but we’re creating slack that complicates our processes, and then, in the end, kills growth. So we understand the problem, but what are we gonna do about it? I want to give you a few
steps to cut the slack. Five steps to cut the slack. What are we gonna do? We’re going to kill a rule, cut a meeting, remove a step, empower a
person, and repeat the process. Let me say it again. Kill a rule, cut a meeting, remove a step, empower a person, repeat the process. Let’s talk about it. We’re going to kill a rule. Whenever you see in your organization an unnecessary rule that
slows decision making or action taking, whenever
possible, kill that rule. For example, in my organization
one of the things we used to do is we managed vacation
time for our team members. Maybe they’d get two or
three weeks or whatever, and it took us a lot of time to track how much time they’re actually taking off. Our team members were working
hard, so you know what we did? We just killed the rule. We’re gonna say, your hard workers, take as much time as you need. In fact, in our organization
we don’t have to talk people into not taking time
off because they work hard, we have to actually say,
hey, please take time off. Let’s not have a rule, let’s not track it, let’s just say you’re
great people, work hard, take great time off,
we’re not gonna manage it. We killed a rule, we freed people, and we had a better outcome. Kill a rule. Wherever there’s a rule that slows things down is unnecessary, kill that rule. Secondly, cut a meeting, cut a meeting. In fact, there’s a
classic book by my friend Patrick Lencioni called
“Death By Meeting,” you may want to look at it. Pat says meetings are not inherently bad, but bad meetings are a
reflection of bad leaders. We’ve all been in bad meetings that are inefficient or ineffective. What we want to do is we
want to look at all of our meetings and ask
ourselves some questions. Can we get the same result
without this meeting? Oftentimes, just email
communication or even a touch base can save a long meeting. Another question. Can we get a similar or better
result without this meeting? Another question. If the meeting was a different length, in a different place, had fewer people, would we have a different result? Here’s what I like to do. I like to experiment with the frequency and duration of meetings. So maybe you’re meeting weekly. You might ask yourself, what if we just met two times a month? What if we met just for a quarter? If we’re meeting for two hours, what if we cut the meeting
time down to one hour? I’ll give you an example. I have a monthly finance
meeting where we look at all of the resources and
numbers for our church, and for a long time it was
taking about three hours or so. One time we only had one
hour to do the meeting, and guess what? We got done in 50 minutes
when we were focused and not chasing a bunch of rabbits. A 50 minute or a one hour
meeting was actually way more effective because we didn’t
have the time to waste looking at details that really
didn’t matter that much. When it comes to meetings, the goal is not to eliminate all meetings, but what we want to do is we want to make the meetings that we
have effective meetings. So we’re going to kill a rule. We’re gonna cut a meeting. We’re going to remove
a step, remove a step. I like what Picasso said. He said art is the elimination
of the unnecessary. Remove a step. Sometimes as a leader here’s
what we need to understand. We are the step that needs to be removed. So many times I’ve found that I am the bottleneck to progress
in our organization. Here’s an example. Many of us as leaders, we
hold onto things for too long. There was something that I held onto. As a church, we make
videos that talk about what’s coming up for
our next message series. If you ever go to a movie and you see the trailers for upcoming movies, it makes you want to go those. And so, we would create a video to try to create interest in what was coming. Well, what I did is I oversaw that project for years and years and years. I created, because of my involvement, at least 10 steps, which
was one, pitch my idea, brainstorm titles, choose a title, pitch the conceptual idea for the video, look at the rough video, provide feedback, bring me the second draft, offer feedback, and then, test broadly,
and then, go live with it. Lots and lots of steps. Guess what happened? I was the one slowing the process. I unintentionally created unnecessary, frustrating, time wasting,
emotionally expensive, and organizationally discouraging slack. I created the slack. When finally I removed
me, guess what I did? I removed multiple steps, and
now the process is so much more efficient, the team
member’s happier, and guess what? The result is actually better. What are we gonna do? We’re gonna kill a rule, cut
a meeting, remove a step, and then, this is so important, we’re gonna empower a person. As often as possible,
instead of creating a rule or establishing a policy, empower people. Here’s an example. Because we have so many different
sites in different states, we’re always buying and
selling property, all the time. At any given time we’ll
have a dozen pieces of property for sale or we’re
purchasing three or four, and I’ve been, my team,
we’ve been in hundreds and hundreds of negotiations, and so, we’ve actually gotten
pretty good at negotiating. Because of our experience, we felt like we were necessary
to negotiate all the deals, but what we found is we
were slowing things down. We’d have to get reports,
we’d have to ask questions, get feedback, so what did we decide to do? Empower a person, empower a team. What we did is we trained a few people to negotiate with our values. We would oversee them for awhile, now we’ve stepped out and
they’re negotiating without us. Guess what we just did? We cut the slack. The process is better because
we’ve empowered people. We taught them to do what we’re doing, and now the process is so much better. What are we gonna do? Kill a rule, cut a meeting,
remove a step, empower a person, then repeat the process. Repeat the process. I like what Peter Drucker said. He said this. He said, only three
things happen naturally in any organization, three things. Friction, confusion, and underperformance. Everything else requires leadership. That’s why you are so important to the end result of your organization. Great leaders simplify. Let me say it again. Internalize it, don’t
just listen, feel it, believe it, live it, lead to it. Great leaders simplify. Why? Because growth creates complexity, and complexity kills growth. That’s why we’re going to repeat this process again and again and again. We are always, all the time,
working to cut the slack. Let’s review, and then, I want to give you application
questions, and honestly, that’s the most important
part of what we do. Don’t just hear this,
apply it as a leader. Brief review, and then,
application questions. What is slack? Any activity that absorbs resources, but creates little to
no value, that is slack. Why do we experience organizational slack? Because organizations never
drift toward simplicity. Growth creates complexity,
complexity kills growth. When it comes to organizational
slack, we have one goal. Our goal is to simplify
or eliminate all policies, processes, or unnecessary
steps that take too much time, cost too much, and add too little value. So as leaders, what are we gonna do? We will kill a rule, cut
a meeting, remove a step, empower a person, and repeat the process. Peter Drucker said it,
I want to say it again. Only three things happen
naturally in any organization. Friction, we have that, don’t we? Confusion, we have that, don’t we? Underperformance, it’s
in every organization. Everything else requires leadership. As a leader we will simplify. Cut the slack. Faster decisions, speed, agility, quick, adapt, innovate, move, seize, attack. What you do matters, do
it with intentionality, cut the slack. Application questions. Number one, what unnecessary
steps, unproductive meetings, ineffective policies are
slowing our progress? What steps that don’t need to be there? What meetings are too bogged down, too frequent, or have the wrong people? What ineffective policies
are slowing the progress? This is really important. You want to diagnose this and
you want to tell the truth. Just because you’ve done it for a year or five years, 10 years, whatever, don’t institutionalize what
you’ve done in the past. Ask it, be honest, work
with your team members, let your team members
critique your leadership. You may be in the way, you
may be the unnecessary step. Have the courage to remove
yourself to empower other people. What steps, what policies,
what’s slowing progress? Accurately diagnose it and tell the truth. And then, number two,
what rule can you kill? What meeting can you cut? What step can you remove or what person can you empower to remove the slack? This really, really matters. If we can take out
whatever is unnecessary, do what’s important, do it with urgency, we can actually make a
difference in this world. You’re a leader, lead to
the results that you want. Now, in the next episode
we’re gonna talk about simplifying our lives
and our own leadership, cut the slack part two,
and this one will speak directly to what you do
and don’t do as a leader. I am honored and grateful that you spend a little bit of time together each month. I really believe that we
can get better together. 20 minutes a month, sometimes
longer if I get long winded. Thank you for rating this or reviewing it. If you do that, it actually
makes a big difference, so if you haven’t written a review, it’d mean the world to
me if you’d do that. Also, please share this with others. I’m looking forward to our next episode. I think it will really speak to you and stretch you as a leader. Thank you for sharing
resources that help stretch me. Be yourself, bring your best game. Remember, people would
rather follow a leader that’s always real than
one who’s always right. – Thank you for joining us at the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. If you want to go even
deeper into this episode and get the leadership
guide or show notes, you can go to
life.church/leadershippodcast. You can also sign up to
have that information delivered straight to
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subscribe to this podcast, rate and review it on iTunes, and share with your
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9 thoughts on “Eliminate Distractions: Cut the Slack, Part 1 – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

  1. Very spot on. I agree with everything you just said. I will be at the Leadership summit Aug 8 – 9 in Cedar Rapids IA. I also will keep watching here on youtub. Don.

  2. Excellent content and so needed… Amazing that one of the main tools that can cut the slack is called “Slack”…

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