For the majority of my life, I have been a shoot from the hip kind of a guy. Don’t get me wrong, I like plans and to know where things are going and how we will get there. But, sometimes the details didn’t interest me. This is great if you can get away with it. For many years it worked out well. As our company has evolved, we have had to take a different approach and really dig in to see where we could gain efficiencies.
In the last couple of years, I have been tasked with new responsibilities where detail and process are imperative. At first, I will admit it was a struggle to try and understand the “why” behind digging into the details. But now that we are a couple of years into this new normal, I get it.
So much of what we all do every day is too complex. We use processes that have naturally evolved without being thought out. Don’t get me wrong, changing processes and asking people to do things in a different way isn’t easy. Nobody likes someone else looking at how they do their job. It is scary to think something is going to be taken away from you. However, if you are going to grow your business or product, speed and efficiency is the only way in a hyper-competitive 24x7 kind of world. The only way to become efficient is to remove as many wasteful steps, systems and people from the process.
The byproduct of removing waste is simple… Scale!
Let me put it this way. Why do manufacturing plants want to use robots where possible? Because they can work 24x7, they don’t make mistakes, they don’t get sick, they require no ongoing training, you don’t have to give robots performance reviews which means no hiring and firing. Efficiency is the key, but by adding automation you also remove steps in the process.
Another example where an old dog had to learn a new trick…my own father. He is now retired, but years ago his world changed dramatically. He was a contractor and was responsible for estimating costs for construction jobs. I remember as a kid when I would visit him in his office he was always reviewing drawings and manually calculating footages of material on an old school accountant-type calculator with the paper roll. Once he had all of his estimates manually figured out, he had an Admin Assistant who would create the official estimate on a typewriter. Years go by and his world changed where spreadsheets overtook the pencil, paper and typewriter. No more duplicated steps, no more human error on the calculations and by using a system he could get a report showing a parts list of what the job would need. With this new process, he and his team could quote more jobs without adding staff… Scale!
So, how do you get started in your business? You just have to do it. Get everyone involved in the process in a room and break down every single task, person, system. Once you have it all mapped out the fun starts. Time to debate each step and decide if it is necessary or if it could be done in a more efficient way. Now that you have agreed to a new normal, the real work starts. Find a tracking system that works for you. It could be a simple Excel worksheet or as complex as Microsoft Project. Go step by step and communicate what needs to change, how the new process is going to work and how you will measure the changes. It takes time and effort, but it will pay for itself tenfold.
If you need to bounce some ideas off of someone or would like help getting started, please reach out.
firstname.lastname@example.org or LinkedIn = https://www.linkedin.com/in/justinmcclung