I was working with a new client the other day for the first time. If there was a sound track to our first session it would have had the lyrics 'because we've always done it that way...'.
Although I am a big fan of 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' I am less of a fan of 'we'll put up with the results even if they're bad'.
I think that in many cases the problem is not about knowing what to do, it is about seeing how you can apply what you know. When you read a book, or get advice, on how to improve your business processes you are often presented with a generic sequence of steps to follow.
The skill at this point is to see your business in a way that allows you to use these steps. An eight point methodology may be great, but when you are looking at a warehouse that is upside down trying to put the eight points into context can be difficult.
The simplest way I know to go about trying to see your business in light of an improvement approach is to break your business down into its component parts. Stop looking at your business as a single entity, take the time to understand the individual elements and then see how they can either fit together better or be adapted to work with a specific methodology.
Working with several smaller interconnected pieces of the business improvement puzzle is clearer than working with the complex whole. When you put the whole thing together it can be shrouded in problems, issues and 'yes buts' as to how it is meant to work.
Getting the individual elements working correctly makes the overall performance of the system improve. Improving businesses in this way can be a lot more tangible and takes people away from talking about their history and start talking about how to make the improvements happen.
Author of 'Business Process Re-Engineering', a practical plan to improve business performance.
P.S. My next book 'Better Faster Now' looks at a number of case studies related the above post. It will be available for free on Kindle in the next two weeks. If you want to get the details when it is released sign up for my newsletter by requesting the free report (left hand side of the screen).