If you have a friend or acquaintance who is a business owner, I bet there is not one time you met that the conversation doesn’t gravitate toward business stuff. As a result, you hear stories about the enterprise’s performance. When things are not going as expected, you talk about things he or she want or should do in their business. Moreover, they keep talking about problems and how they fix them. The problem is that they should stop fixing and start improving processes.
Stop fixing and start improving
Richard is the owner and general manager of a chemical laboratory. Every once in a while, I see him at a bar we both frequent. As we have friends in common, several times our groups get together to have a good time. Inevitably, I heard Richard talking about the problems he had in the lab many times. However, it took me several months to convince him to do something about it.
During the time that Richard was talking about inefficiencies, his business was suffering. ChemTest was not releasing results on time or keeping up with demand. Therefore, the customer service rate was declining. Also, he was missing the opportunity to grow the business. Every day, Richard and his team were working very hard to get caught up with the tests. Richard thought he was fixing the problem by hiring a new lab technician.
But the real problem is that he was not fixing this problem. Even more, he did not fix the situation of running out of reagents by increasing the inventory level. Neither the testing errors by hiring a laboratory helper to organize and label samples. Richard was trying to fix problems by throwing more resources into the business. In fact, instead of fixing, he should have been improving the processes.
This is the time to stop fixing and start improving
Like, Richard, many business owners or leaders are focus on fixing problems day in and day out. But there are two problems with that approach. First, probably they are only dealing with the symptoms of the problem, not the cause. Hence, there is no such thing as fixing or solving the problem. And second, they are not improving the business processes.
Process improvement using simple and common-sense solutions is the best way to eliminate waste and increase safety, quality, and efficiency. It is also the best way to achieve the fastest delivery times without spending lots of money. Continuous improvement is a people focus system. Leadership takes care of the team and the team takes care of the problems. Through skills development and lean thinking, the team learns to improve their work area and processes.
As a consequence, leadership would have more time to think about improvements, new products, and how to grow the business. How long have you been thinking about doing something to change your business performance? Have you considered a continuous improvement strategy? These days, more than ever it is critical to building a flexible business capable of adjusting to market changes as fast as possible. This is the time to stop fixing, and start improving.