In Growth & Profit

“Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.” – Peter Drucker

I recently spent most of a morning visiting with a manufacturing client of our firm.  The main idea of the conversation was that this business has the opportunity to grow (a lot) but they are completely overwhelmed.  It’s a relatively small business (6-10 people) and they’re all very busy.  The phrase “we have to hire 3 or 4 people” was used over and over and over again.

I challenged the leaders (and would challenge anyone) every time they said this.  I kept saying the same thing to them:  “Do you have all the waste out of your business?”  I didn’t say that because I don’t think it’s ever appropriate to hire anybody.  And yes, I realize that it’s impossible to ever get all of the waste out of your business.

But I wanted to make a point to them and to you:  Before you add a bunch of people to your payroll, think about whether you really need them, or if you’re business has waste that’s blocking your path.  Ask yourself 3 questions about everything your business is doing:  

Is it necessary?  Unfortunately, there are things in every business that are being done that are a complete waste of time.  Don’t kid yourself – your business is no exception.  Identify those things & stop doing them.

Who should do it?  Think about everything you do in your day.  Are you the best person for the job?  I know too many leaders who do things that you could probably train a monkey to do.  Not the best use of time.

Is there a better way?  Here’s where the “because we’ve always done it that way” excuse comes in.  Just because the person who used to work here 20 years ago thought this was the best way to do it doesn’t mean there’s not a better way to do it today.  Look at the things your business does – where can waste be eliminated?

The last thing I mentioned to the client was that like most people they were spending a lot of time talking about waste in the production part of their business, or in sales, or in any other part of the business that didn’t include them.  That’s backwards.  If you want your business to take eliminating waste seriously, then it has to start with you, the leader.  You have to demonstrate that you’re committed to this and that you’re willing to make change.  Don’t just do a waste audit on the production side of your business – do one on yourself.  

Where do you spend your time as the leader?  How much of what you do is waste?  How can you bring more value to your business?  Eliminate the unnecessary and streamline the mandatory – and be amazed at the impact you can have.


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