What is MORE important – focus on the outcomes or the inputs to your business? I would argue that the output – e.g. profits or sales is a direct result of what you and your people are working on during the month, in other words the inputs.
The old computer saying – “garbage in garbage out” is true for how we run our businesses. So how do we know what we should be working on and how do we know it is directly related to my financial performance?
Step One: Identify the critical things you do in the business – or business processes.
For example a contract builder has about three critical processes to get right –tendering, sub-contractor selection, project management. These are all processes with inputs, step by step actions and if all are not well executed there is a high risk of losing REAL money.
So, first things first, look at your business and identify those top 5 critical “things” you and your team do each month. Write each one on a separate sheet of paper. On the left hand side write what you/your team do well; on the right hand side right what you could do better. Try and fill the sheet for each of your critical processes.
Step Two: What do I work on FIRST?
It is essential that you DO NOT try to fix everything at once, otherwise you will fail.
Review your five sheets of paper with your critical processes listed. Select those three that “if we get these right we will make a lot more money.”
Now with these three, review each sheet and highlight the most important What We Do Well and what We Could Do Better.
You now have six critical “things” to measure.
Why do we look at what we do well? Simply because this is why you are a success, why your customers buy from you and how you are positioned in your market. So KEEP DOING it and let all your people know this is critically important to the success of the business. Also, never take your eyes of these and do not let them slip while you make other improvements.
Step Three: Measure, Monitor & Remember?
For the six areas you have identified – set up a weekly measuring system for each one. One could be hours spent re-working mistakes. Get this down and you will make more money.
Report them each week, ideally on a big board so all the team can see. Have the actions that will be done over the next two weeks written out so everyone knows what is going to happen.
Do this for 3 months and see how you go. If the three that you do well have stayed flat or improved, FANTASTIC. Likewise if the three you could do better in have improved then FANTASTIC AGAIN. Your business results will be improving as a direct result of working on the INPUTS.
Remember – celebrate your success with the team and go back to Step One every three to six months. Within a short period of time your business will be on the path to Excellence.