2.6. The Wheel of Management Turns

In this chapter, we had our first look at TINA, the management steering wheel. TINA is composed of four activities each with an input and each producing an output. As TINA is a wheel the output of one activity become the input to the next, repeating as the business activities repeat. Using TINA to help you manage will increase the probability that your business will survive, and in order to make the concepts behind TINA easier to understand (before we get on to the detail in the next chapters) we used a simplified management steering wheel, SMSW.

You can’t steer with your eyes closed.


Before you set off on any journey, business management or otherwise, it is prudent to have a plan. The starting point for any plan for ‘moving forward’ must always be ‘From where am I starting?’ Finding out where your business is up to crucial. If your plan states that you must increase your customer base by 10%, it’s pretty important that you know your current customers levels. If you want to grow your business in a particular market sector, knowing where that sector is located geographically, is going to be important.


Of all the things that you need to know about your business, probably the most important are those things associated with your customers. Who are they?  What do they want from you? Why will they buy form you?  Where are they? When will your goods and services be available? How are you going to get them to your customers? And so on. Your customers pay your bills, but only if they are buying what it is that you are selling. So, find out the ‘whats’ and the ‘wheres’ before you start zooming off in a random direction.


Having determined where you are (where your business is), you can then decide which would be the most prudent course to take next. Planning a massive sales and marketing campaign is great is you have already determined that you have the resources to pay for it. Not so good if the first advert you run bankrupts you! Planning to increase production is great providing that you already know that there is capacity in your operation, otherwise investment in resources will be required. Find out where you are before you decide to move, then you’ve less chance of moving straight into the failure abyss.


Your decisions are sound if you’ve established from where your next step will be starting. Now you have to convince everyone else to follow you. Tell them what you want to happen and explain why it is a good idea. If they disagree, then do them the courtesy of at least listening. You may still decide that your original idea is the best one, and it is your business after all, but your team may be in possession of information that you have not seen or have overlooked. Building a successful business is hard, but it’s a lot easier if your team helps.


So, having agreed with your team where the next steps in your business should be taking you, you must check that you are going the right way. And then keep checking, regularly. Why? Well, imagine that you are in your car travelling to visit a customer and your original route becomes blocked by traffic. It’s probably a good idea to check to see if there is an alternative route rather than trying to plough on regardless. Plans are not cast in stone. The economic environment changes fast. Designing, building and running steam locomotives was a terrific idea in the 19th century, but not today. Don’t cleave to the plan. Check what is happening inside and outside your business and then either confirm that your original decisions are correct or make them anew.


So, you’ve done your checking and all is well. Time for a rest. No! As was pointed out in the introduction (see Chapter 1), running a business is hard because it never really stops. You’re the Boss and every ‘road’ within your business leads to you. Every responsibility ultimately stops at your door. Having said that, be aware that the rewards are great. Every achievement, every success and every sale is, to a greater or lesser degree, yours, so the effort is worth it.


The reason that we use the ‘wheel’ as a metaphor for management is that it turns, it rolls and as a result, the vehicle to which it is attached moves. After one revolution, the same part of the wheel is at the top again and the whole process can start again. As it is with your business. Management is not just one activity, it is many. Management isn’t just doing something once, it’s about doing it many times. As the wheel turns, over and over, you refine your approach, allowing you to steer your business along the bumpy road of an ever—changing economic environment. The SMSW suggests that you should be doing the following:

  • Find out what’s going on and where your business is up to
  • Decide what you want to do next
  • Tell your team what your plan is and get doing it
  • Check that things are going to plan
  • Find out what’s going on now and where your business has moved to
  • Decide what you want to do next, and so on…


As the wheel turns you keep on top of what is happening in your business, steering it away from the failure abyss. Now, let’s take a look it detail at how we use expanded versions of the basic principles that we covered in this chapter; let’s get to grips with TINA.