Gift Shop Plus Fall 2023
Bring on the Dragons: An overview of management integration By Andrea M. Hill

Focusing on management integration builds an organization that can continuously improve, grow and overcome challenges.

You may not realize it, but the story of your business — of any small business — is an epic one. It is a story about taking magnificent risks for elusive rewards, about shouldering burdens, sleepless nights, and the incredible feelings of success and camaraderie when your team comes together and the business flourishes. Like all great stories, there are peaceful times of stability and challenging times when dragons breathe fire upon the walls.

Your work as a business owner is a lot like the work of running an epic story city. You must provide stability without becoming complacent, constantly make improvements, change with the times, watch out for dragons and have a plan for dealing with them when they show up — because they always show up.
The heroes of every epic story cultivate three capabilities within them and their teams: autonomy, mastery and purpose. And they do this through management (if you didn’t think management was sexy and dramatic before now, I hope you’re seeing thelight).

How can you create a culture brimming with autonomy, mastery and purpose? Much easier than you may think, and the methods are already proven. You just need to commit to them with dogged determination.

Nine management disciplines are essential to the long-term success of your epic business adventure:

  1. Planning
  2. Financial management
  3. Risk management
  4. Communication
  5. Hiring and retention
  6. Delegation
  7. Performance management
  8. Continuous learning
  9. Time management

What most people don’t realize is how closely these management practices must work together to align and motivate. The holy grail of management is understanding how these individual disciplines — often separated into silos — must be integrated with one another. Focusing on management integration is the way to build an organization that can continuously improve, grow and overcome challenges.


It’s tempting to view a business through the lens of the products and services it sells. But your business is really a collection of dozens — perhaps hundreds — of processes that are done all day every day by employees, customers and suppliers. Every inefficient or insufficient process is inefficient and insufficient multiplied by the number of times that process is done every day, week, month and year.
Process management cuts across all nine of the management disciplines. Not only are there processes within each discipline, but the outputs of each discipline also positively and negatively influence the processes in the other management areas.

The most powerful thing any business can do is map and document its processes. Process mapping shines a light on inefficiencies, reveals opportunities for improvements and automation, and stimulates innovation. Documenting the correct way to do each process ensures organizational consistency, which reduces overhead and improves quality. Process documentation is also a powerful form of communication that speeds up employee onboarding, facilitates delegation, and provides a framework for performance measurement and management. Humble process documentation facilitates harmonious autonomy and supports the development of mastery.


Most of us who have owned a business for a long time have great gut instincts — except when we don’t. In the not-so-long-ago past when anything more than P.O.S. data was largely unavailable to small businesses, small business owners operated on a level playing field, with guts that were sometimes correct and sometimes not. The difference today is that some businesses are using abundant and affordable data to supplement their guts, making better decisions, and shooting ahead of their competition.

When you implement technology and systems to collect data, use those systems effectively, aggregate the resulting data for a single source of truth, and analyze that data for better management decisions, you connect the nine management disciplines. Then you can combine reliable data with consistent processes to unleash the elusive power of key performance indicators (KPIs). This connector makes it possible
to finally measure the right activities in the right ways, and successfully align processes and people with business goals. Data-driven decision-making keeps an organization and all its individual members aligned with its plans and purpose.


Every organization has a culture, but whether or not it is a culture that serves its goals and fulfills its purpose is directly related to how intentionally the culture was developed. If your culture arose organically, it likely mirrors the strongest personalities in the group or is defined by the subgroups and their relationships with one another.

Business culture defines how a business operates on the inside and has a direct connection to how the business is perceived from the outside. If you’re struggling to convey a consistent brand identity, take a look at the role your internal culture is playing.

Most people understand that culture defines relationships and behavior, but less understand that culture can also support — or undermine — your value proposition, which is the unique benefit that your company provides its customers. If your value proposition is based on new product and service innovation, your culture must support and stimulate creativity, adaptability and healthy competition. If your value proposition is all about service, your culture must foster collaboration, openness and listening. A value proposition of low prices must culturally prioritize efficiency, cost-consciousness and aggressive process refinement. All of these cultural attributes can be positive, but how they are combined, prioritized and perpetuated touches every discipline of management and determines whether or not the stakeholders perceive alignment between management and organizational purpose.

In 2009, the dragons were distressed financial markets and a real estate meltdown. Today, the dragons are inflation, labor challenges and troubled supply chains. There will always be dragons. But when you focus on the synergistic power of process documentation, data-driven decision-making and intentional culture, you transform the nine pillars of good management from a collection of tactics to an integrated and dynamic practice.

The result will be something much more than merely resilient. The result will be an organization energized and motivated through autonomy, mastery and purpose. The result will be epic.

Andrea M. Hill

Andrea M. Hill is CEO and founder of Hill Management Group | The Werx Brands. Andrea has had serial success leading companies through rapid, profitable growth. Each Werx brand (StrategyWerx, Werx.Marketing, MentorWerx, ProsperWerx) specializes in a specific area of business growth planning and execution. You can reach Andrea at 414-477-1457 or

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