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Avoid mistakes with your SOPs!

SOPs ( Standard Operating Procedures ) help everyone in a business. They help to clarify your own thoughts, if you are writing them. They help others to understand the expectations, safe effective methods and what has been agreed previously. For new starters, they help to speed up the training process. So, why don't so many people embrace this tool? I'd love to know the answer, but if you find yourself in this situation let me give you a few pointers. Capture the information any way you see fit. If you have an existing format that works, use it, otherwise make sure you capture the information in a way that makes sense to you. Make the information is understandable. Photos and images are great. Ensure the information is accessible. Get them off your desktop and into the hands of those using the information. Embrace the feedback. If the readers are confused, simplify the material. I heard the other day that a big mistake in a company I know has happened again. Guess what? The fir

If it's broken, please improve it!

I visited a client last week and asked to join their production meeting. It turned out that the meeting had been cancelled. After a little probing I found out that the meeting wasn't satisfying the owner's requirements. Available from Amazon So, here's the question.... Could it have been repaired? The meeting was broken, but it was there for a reason. It had a purpose and it added value to the business. The owner acknowledged this. Pressures are on everyone at the moment, but dumping the meeting rather than fixing it? A question I ask all my clients is ' what does good look like? '. We debated this, my client and I. There were clearly a lot of good things that this meeting did. There were a handful of things this meeting didn't do. So, what did good look like? Quickly we were able to define some clearer guidance for the attendees. They now all know what they need to bring to their meeting and what responses need to be prepared in advance. My client even embraced

C'mon! Just write the SOP!

We all know that we need to write things down. Available from Amazon This could be meeting actions, objectives, ideas for the future... or the knowledge we have in our heads. Let me focus on the last point, knowledge. For many organisations, this means capturing our experience so that others can use it. If you find your business growing then this is critical. You can't use telepathy! Often referred to as Standard Operating Procedures (or, SOPs), defining the one best way to do something is a great way to share knowledge in your organisation. But, why do so many people not bother to do this? Here are a few of the common issues I hear on my travels: They think it will take too long to write. They are worried that they'll get it wrong. Why bother? No one will read them. I've not done this before. Let's review. You don't have to spend hours writing SOPs. Even a few bullet points will move you in the right direction. If you are worried about getting the information wron

Stop firefighting, start performing!

Another weeks passes and another example of unnecessary fire fighting demonstrated by a business I have been to help. If you have this taking place in your business, let me ask you a few questions: 1. What keeps on happening? Regain control with this practical book Can you pin down what it is that you keep having to do, to get out of trouble? If you can't, is there a pattern you can observe? 2. Do you want it to stop? Is it causing you enough of a problem that you want it to stop? If the answer is yes, keep reading, if not park it for another day. 3. Find out what is going on Do you know why you are having this issue? If you aren't sure where the issue is arising from, then take a few minutes to have a look around. When you have some idea, go to the next step. 4. Cause and effect Do you know what is truly causing the fire fighting situation? If you spend the time to get to the root cause of the situation , you have a good chance of permanently eliminating this situation. Most p

Are your teams clear?

I have recently finished working with a team that were struggling. They were struggling to meet their production schedules. They were struggling to respond to customer enquiries on time. They were burnt out and frazzled. After some prodding and poking it became clear what their issues were. In particular, it became obvious that expectations of the team weren't clear or defined. Defining what you expect from teams is a standard management approach. The problem with most teams is that leadership describe the standards in vague terms . So, what happens if you get the standards crystal clear? You should expect to see the team produce the right outputs. They should produce the outputs at the right time. And, they should produce them in an agreed way. Be clear with your teams. Ask the question: What does good look like? If you want to get some more ideas on how to define effective standards and visions, get your copy of my book today . What does good look like? is a practical guide to h

Kaizen improvements need to be specific

Do you find that your Kaizen improvements don't always go to plan? If you do, then you're with the majority! Whilst there is great deal of 'trial and error' there is a simple approach that can help. Available from Amazon Being specific about critical parts of your improvement can uplift your results. So, how do you go about doing this? The most direct route is to be clear about which parts of your improvement are critical. From here you can explain, in detail, what you want for those items. This might take some practice as many of us have become lazy in this regard. We take it for granted that our team 'get us' and will know what they need to do. If you ever feel that something basic is missing from an improvement ask this question: "What does good look like?" The answer should put you back on track. About the author: Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes and