It is always tempting to pick up the next shiny penny; to try something new; to break out of the rut, etc. As exciting as they may be, it is not the right approach to take.
Instead, maximize what you are already doing before trying something new.
While it may be true not everything you are doing is a screaming success, I say focus on what you are now doing, get the fat out of all the processes and maximize productivity. Your organization has an enormous amount of energy being spent on a vast array of activities. Redirect the energy before taking on a new challenge.
Think of it this way. It is unlikely you have people sitting around all do doing nothing, waiting for the next big opportunity or crisis. Everyone is currently filling all of their time completing the tasks before them. All together they are spending all of the available time of the entire organization.
So, how do they currently find the time to deal with a problem or capitalize on a great new idea?
They drop things they are currently doing! Everyone stops doing the things that are not important—not vital. They stop doing the things they should not be doing in the first place. They are just putting in their day. Perhaps this applies to you as well.
To put it bluntly you have a lot of non-productive activities in your organization.
Nearly all the current activity in your organization is a part of some system, process or procedure. You and your people are spending all their time completing these sequential activities. You can’t maximize what you’re currently doing if you don’t break all activities down to their core processes. Then rework the activities. This includes dropping some, fine-tuning some and adding new ones.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s imagine you’re doing selling types of activities, you have to realize how well you’re doing at each stage of the selling process.
First, make a list of all the activities associated with the “department”.
- Closing new accounts
- Retaining customers
- Selecting categories
- Building product lines
- Selling services
- Expanding geographies
Next, evaluate the current level of performance in each one. Score them on a 1 to 10 basis and put an action plan in place to improve the worst scoring ones.
Then, determine how you can improve the quality of each of the individual activities in each of your processes (in this case, the sales process). It is best to address the weakest areas first and then, one by one, take on the rest.
Finally, put the new, improved processes to the test. Try them out in the real world for about a year.
At least annually analyze all the current core fundamentals within the company. And, as you saw in the above example, this has to be done from top to bottom, team to team, and department to department. Until you know how you’re doing in every process and sub-system you can’t maximize your performance.
In sports it’s called going back to the basics. They do it every year at all levels. Adopt the practice at your company.