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Can a quick walk around your business increase your profits?

Management by walking around is a great concept. The amount of information you can gather by having just a quick tour of part of your business is astounding. Small details that would be missing from management reports can be picked up easily from even just having a few minutes of your day invested in a brief stroll... as long as it is done with the right focus.

A safe and productive working environment

An obvious application of the walk around is to ensure that Health and Safety issues are adhered to. Clear walkways, organised working areas and a feeling of things working the way that they should are just a few things you can check for.

If you see something that isn't right you can do something about it, there and then. You don't have to wait for a committee meeting to take place, action can be swift and effective.

Increasing productivity

Whilst walking around you will most likely have a chance to speak to your team members. After even the quickest of conversations you should be able to discover any obstacles that your teams face.

Kicking away obstacles is one of the primary functions of a leader and certainly a route to increasing productivity within your business.

Most people will put up with far too many inefficiencies before they speak up; problems become normal and that is detrimental for meeting the objectives of the business. Walk the floor, help resolve the problems and release the productivity.

Find the bigger prize

When you spot issues in the business you have a choice; fix the immediate problem, or fix the problem and find out what is causing the problem.

Many businesses will stop at trying to fix the problem. Their days work out better overall (compared to a business that won't walk the floor regularly) but they don't release the full potential of the business' operations if they leave it there.

By digging down into the issue (which can again only take a few minutes) you can find out what it really behind the issue. If you dig deep enough you will find some basic 'at cause' problems that can be rectified easily. When you do this many productivity zapping symptoms will also disappear from your business. It is worth the small investment in time.

Putting this together

I mentioned at the start of this article the need for having the right focus to make 'management by walking around' effective. If you want to put this in to practice in your business then I suggest you consider these three pointers:
  1. Form the habit of taking a walk around your business. This might take time to become a true habit, put some reminders in your diary and you will make sure that you don't forget. Also, remember that you don't have to do a 'full tour' each time!
  2. Make sure that you have high standards. What is an obstacle or issue? If you don't have very high standards you won't spot the opportunities for correction and support that will be needed in your business. Don't tolerate things that shouldn't be tolerated.
  3. Ensure that you (and your team) have a robust method for capturing the issues arising from your walk, following through on the actions and resolving the situations. Failure to do this means that your walks will be futile.

A regular walk around parts of your business can take just minutes, but the impact it can have on your profit margins, productivity, morale and customer satisfaction can be staggering!

Enjoy your walk,


Giles Johnston
Author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement strategies online course.

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