If your answer is no, then you are not alone! Most CEOs and Business owners, when honestly answering this question, admit their business could be more efficient and more effective.

They tell us the challenge for them is in getting the time and/or the expertise to do something about it. Covid-19 has brought huge uncertainty and anxiety to businesses resulting in many challenges and relatively few opportunities.

All in all, 2020 was a horrible year and 2021 has been similarly challenging. Our hopes rest on a vaccine and recent developments have certainly boosted those hopes.

Given the challenges ahead, thinking about how the efficiency and effectiveness of your business is now more relevant than ever. And if you haven’t given this any real thought already in 2021, there is no better time to start than now!

By properly reviewing your business, you can get increased outputs of up to 25/30% within a matter of months. Critically, you can do this with the same level of resources as you have today.

Our clients who tackled this in recent months are now in the strongest position they can be facing into the rest of 2021.

Here are 8 practical steps you can take straight away;

  1. Ask yourself in the first instance, and then your team, about how you/they feel your customers would rate your efficiency and effectiveness? It is enormously helpful to view this question through the “eyes of your customer”.
  2. Bring key members of your team from each part of your business together. Map out all your processes fully as they are being run (not how they are meant to be run), and ask yourselves where your customer sees the value. N.B. if your customer doesn’t see value in a part of your process treat that as a warning sign. That part of the process needs to be redesigned to demonstrate real value for your customer. When looking at the actual process, view it from the perspective of the “Thing in Progress”. And, when doing this, put yourself in the shoes of the customer rather than looking at it simply as “a process”. How many times is there waste in the process? (“waste” being any activity that does not add value for the customer). How many times does the process need to be fixed, reworked or restarted? This can be an eye-opening exercise and is the best measure of true value of the “thing in progress”.
  3. Calculate the real ratio of things that your customer sees as value and those that are genuinely a cost and burden to the business. Try to eliminate those non-value adding elements. Do not change the elements that your customer values. Rather, focus on eliminating the waste in the process.
  4.  Be prepared to hear things you don’t want to hear. Treat these as opportunities to improve. It is only natural that people form emotional attachments to the way they work and “how things are done around here”. Involve your teams in brainstorming the solutions. They know better than you at times, so listen to them. Actively listening to them not only gets you brilliant ideas, you will also boost employee engagement and ownership for the success of the changes you need to make. This will be critical further down the road.
  5. Map out the new processes as you see them working and plan for their implementation. Use the key members of your team to roll these out. Support them. Let them own the implementation. Set up regular review meetings to check in on implementation and to learn where needed. Be adaptable yet resolute about what needs to be done.
  6. Communication will be critical for a successful implementation. Communicate with ALL your employees. Don’t just tell them what is happening. Explain why it is happening and how it affects them. Let them see the benefits. Listen to any concerns they may have.
  7. This can also be a great relationship booster for your customers. Improvements that make things better for them will always be music to their ears. As with your own team, let your customers know what’s happening and why. They will appreciate and respect being included.
  8.  And finally, enable your team to continuously ask this question – why are we doing this process when neither our customer nor ourselves see a value in it? This is critical to encouraging and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

Drawn from many years of practical experience across every sector, in combination with Lean Six Sigma principles, employee engagement methodologies, robust strategic planning, and prudent financial management, these 8 steps are a proven formula for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your business.

Will these steps be easy? No, but they are very doable. Will they be worth the effort? Absolutely. Our experience has been that every business can be more efficient and more effective. There is always room for improvement. In reality, the pursuit of excellence is a never-ending journey and one which, when we focus on it, will always achieve worthwhile results.

Will results happen overnight? No, but then very little that is this worthwhile ever does!

Will they involve doing things differently? Yes.

Will they help you face the future stronger and better? Yes – I guarantee it

I know this stuff works. It is what our team does every day with our clients. Does it always work? Yes. But be careful – the above steps are not a pick ‘n’ mix. You must do all X steps.
Then, and only then, will you get the results you need. Then, and only then, will you get up to 25/30% improvements. Then, and only then, will your team “own” the improvements and therefore sustain them.

I’m sure you know the Chinese proverb: The best time to plant a tree was 20 years’ ago. The second best time is today. So now is the time to get started on implementing these steps. By ensuring your business is as efficient and effective as possible you will be able to increase productivity using the same level of resources you have today. This will ensure your business is as strongly positioned as possible for the road ahead.

Published On: February 10th, 2021 / Categories: Insights /
Brian O’Brien

Partner & Head of
Coffee Conversations

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