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Monday 4th January 2016

Be honest is your business working as effectively as possible?

 All too often business (even the best of businesses) start to be slowed down by the very things that should be making them tick – the processes and the people. Processes become overly complicated, chains of command too long, people become entrenched in the way that they do things and get bogged down in minutia.

Great businesses are those who focus on ensuring continuous improvement is a fundamental principal of what they do. We have probably all heard of the continuous improvement cycle - Plan, Do, Check, Act… but how many of us can honestly say that we follow this principal throughout our business?  Each element of this cycle is as important as the last.
Plan - planning or having a clear goal has of course to be the first fundamental. Without a clear goal and set of objectives, how will we ever know if we have actually achieved anything. But more importantly than having this goal is to communicate this goal clearly and succinctly to all involved.
Do  - making sure the strategy is clear and then getting on with things has to follow closely behind, sometimes too much time is spent planning!
Check  - Okay let’s be honest how much do we do of this? All too often checking gets forgotten or at least pushed to one side in the rush to keepgoing. If we don’t take time to stop and evaluate how we are doing, how do we know for sure that any future plans will be any better than what came before.
Act -  once we know what improvements need to be made, let’s act as quickly as we can and not waste time looking back, or debating, if it needs to be done it needs to be done!
And not forgetting of course that it is called a continuous improvement cycle for a very good reason … it keeps on going round, there is no end, just a new beginning.
All this sounds simple and straight forward, and it should be, but to help you get going, how about asking yourself some questions to see whether now would be a good time to check and act:
Ask yourself these questions:
  • If we started again from scratch, would we still be doing it this way? 
  • Are we focusing on things that make us more effective or worrying too much about the minutia of the day to day?
  • Do we have the skills and abilities to do what we need to do efficiently (if we don’t we need to upskill our staff, or maybe we should outsource that element)
  • Are we procrastinating?
  • Are we spending too much time telling each other stuff without getting on with it (emails can slow us down … go and see your colleague, have a face to face conversation and move on)
  • Are the right people doing the tasks? Delegation isn’t hard, it just takes time, good communications and ensuring please are clear what needs to be done!
  • Have we packed our days so full of tasks that there is no time to actually plan and evaluate
Evaluating your business and ensuring it works as effectively as possible can be tough, but taking time to focus on the how as much as the what will make you more efficient and effective and keep your business fit for purpose today and into the future. 
So be brave and take a look at how you do what you do!