Incremental change in an organisation is like a ripple in a pond. Small changes can have large ripple effects.
There are many ways to ensure that you can maximise the effect of the changes you make. A first principle of continuous improvement is to have good information. Good information comes from good data.
What kind of data can you collect to bring about significant improvement in efficiency and productivity?
I think a really good place to start is to look at the things that get in the way of completing tasks when and how you would like. You may be surprised at the time you can save by eliminating the hassles from every day tasks. So what are you likely to find? Here are a few examples.
- Equipment not put back where it should be
- Equipment & materials not stored in the most efficient way
- Missing materials (ie no system for re-order)
- You can’t remember what to do because its been a long time
- Information is hard to get
- You have been “working around” a problem for some time
- Equipment failure on a regular basis
- No consistency in how it is done
Once you have gathered data, ideally over a period of time, you will be able to apply the 80/20 rule to decide on the first place to start. The 80/20 rule says that 20% of the issues will be causing 80% of the problems, so tackle them first.
One drop in the pond will create endless ripples that will make a big difference to your business.
Being organised does not come easily to me, I am not a details person and rush from one exciting new thing to another. However, I know the power of being organised and know that I suffer when the “wheels fall off”. I am a busy, self- employed wife and mother and mostly work hard at being organised. Sometimes things just don’t work and I then need to stop and get back to basics by reviewing my systems and improving how I do things.
It might be a contradiction, but I think it is because I have to work hard to be organised, that I understand the power of having systemised processes to complete my tasks.
Some questions to ask yourself
1. How can we guarantee quality, create customer loyalty, increase productivity?
- Specify product or service standards
- Identify “moments of truth” for the customer (Ie why do they come to you and what would make then go elsewhere)
- Identify what wastes time or causes hassles for staff and clients.
2. What do we need to put in place to meet the standards?
- Extra step
- Extra resources
- Change process
- Train staff
- Product testing
3. How can we ensure we meet the standard?
- Product testing
- Quality Assurance step
- Audit process
- Customer feedback
- Standards for inputs
Once a new process is put in place it is important that it is reviewed, so plan a “trial” which is checked and then implemented as standard procedure. If you follow these steps and create the discipline of asking the questions regularly, you will improve staff morale, make life easier and increase your productivity.
In recent years there has been much written, and spoken, about resilient organisations. What does being resilient mean? One definition is to withstand shock without permanent deformation or rupture. Another is to recover from, or adjust easily to , misfortune or change.
What makes an organisation strong and therefore resilient to outside forces?
My answer is “the people”
There are a few steps you can take to build strong organisations- I have listed a few that I think can be easily implemented in any organisation.
- Recruit well: Select people for attitude and build the skills they need to do the job well
- Train well: From day one, have an orientation programme that helps your new recruit to understand the culture and become part of the organisation quickly. Have a range of training options to continually up skill your staff member (ie one-on-one “buddy” system, mentoring/coaching, formal study programmes etc)
- Communicate well: tell people stuff! Involve your staff in what is going on, good and bad. Involve them in solutions, trust them with information. Have conversations about your organisation, the industry, the economy- what ever is going to affect you.
- Empower: Delegate authority to the level it needs to be. Not everything needs to be held by the management team. Your life, your staff’s working life, the customer experience; will be much better if your staff are empowered to make decisions.
- Reward: Pay as much as you can for the skills, experience and attitude your staff member brings to the job. However, reward is not just about money- shout morning tea, send a thank you email, take someone to coffee, say thank-you, tell someone they have done a good job- simple things that will make a difference.
- Systemise: Develop systems that support the jobs that need to be done and the people doing them. Take out the hassle, the bureaucracy, the unnecessary steps and create more efficiency.
- Continuously improve: develop a culture of continuous improvement, of looking for a better way and challenging the status quo. Have the conversations that matter to your organisation.
A strong and resilient organisation will withstand outside pressure and get better and better- and you will have a team who can help build it.