Skip to main content

If your business’ growth is stagnating it might be time to talk about the things that bug you!

On our quest to grow our businesses it can sometimes be frustrating when our progress slows down. With growth comes both rewards and frustrations; getting past the frustrations is key to the next phase of growth and it usually starts with a conversation.
Perspective is an interesting thing. What you see from your point of view is not always the full picture. When you start to engage your colleagues and staff in dialogue around the things that are frustrating you in the business you can often find new ways to deal with these problems. As the saying goes ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.

Stop solving the 'non-problems'
Better than sharing the burden of dealing with problems is the opportunity to discover ‘non-problems’. It is uncanny just how many businesses spend time, effort and resources trying to solve things that are not real problems for a business. When you talk with your staff you will be able to reflect on this idea – do we need to solve a specific problem, or is it something else that we should be focusing on? If you are familiar with ‘root cause problem solving’ approaches this would be the time to deploy these methods and make sure that you are spending time on the right things. (Note – if you don’t know about root cause problem solving let me know and I’ll tell you all about it.)

Discover more about your business and then grow
Learning comes from discovery and discovery often comes through the discussions you have with your staff. One of the recognised wastes in business is the ‘untapped human potential’ that is present in most businesses. Every person who participates in your business will undoubtedly have ideas and experiences that can be used to solve current problems and to make the business both more effective and more efficient. Again, tapping into this stream of insight requires a conversation to be undertaken.

Clear the obstacles that stop you thinking about growth
Talking about the problems faced by your business (the things that really bug you!) is an essential starting point to initiate the next phase of growth, if the expansion has started to slow down. If there are too many issues facing us in our businesses, then we usually disengage from our plans. If we feel that we can’t cope with our current issues why would we want to have more of the same. For this reason it is vital that we start the right kinds of discussions to get us past this stumbling block.

To put this into context I recall working in an operations management role where our business failed to get past a specific turnover (and profit margin of course!). There were often comments about why would we want to increase our turnover if we couldn’t cope with our current sales levels. It was a fair comment, we consistently delivered late and our customers were rightly annoyed with us. We started a dialogue about our failings and soon came up with an action plan. The action plan gave the staff confidence and within a few short months our customers were no longer complaining. The right conversations allowed us to reinforce our business processes and prepared us for what was about to come… we tripled our turnover without increasing our workforce (and yes, the margin increased significantly). That’s what happens when the right conversations are undertaken.

A resource to help you change
Having the right conversations might not always be easy, but that’s why I created the Making It Happen programme. I took the best bits from my client projects and created a resource that can be used to help make improvements happen quicker; essential if you want to get your growth plans back on track. You can find out more about Making It Happen by clicking here.

I hope that you take a few minutes out from your business today to look at what is bugging you about your business and reflect upon it. If the issue in question is stopping you from leading your business to higher levels of growth then it might be time for you to start your own conversation about the issue. Learn more about it, gather helpers to conquer it and then do something to change the situation. And then you can get your mind back on to issues of growth.


All the best,


Giles


Get your improvement projects moving with 'Making It Happen'

If you want some tools and techniques to help your improvement projects come to life then check out my continuous improvement toolkit - Making It Happen.

The toolkit includes tried and tested strategies and methods that I use with my clients to help them achieve the results they needed in their businesses.

Just knowing the improvement methods is not always enough, often it is the strategies that make the methods work that yield the results.

To learn more about the toolkit, and what it covers, click here.

Popular posts from this blog

Where there is a (performance) gap there is a concern

I had a really good day yesterday working with a client's team.

The team has issues. Plenty of issues. Some are managerial issues, some are people issues and some are production issues.

When I first met the team they didn't know what to do with their issues, so I started by helping them to see more issues.

Issues everywhere, they didn't seem very impressed.

And then we captured the issues as 'concerns' into the tried and tested 'concern cause countermeasure' format and followed the process:

Concerns probed for root causes and root causes converted into countermeasures.
Soon they realised that some of their root causes dealt with numerous concerns and they gained momentum.

Yesterday we pulled another one of their processes apart and identified all of the gaps. The gaps became concerns and we fed them back into the process. Now they have a practical action plan (of countermeasures) to upgrade the process in question.

What do you do with your performance gaps? …

Continuous Improvement and the Five Legged Race

Many improvement projects need the buy in of several people before they can progress. Amongst these people there will be some that have a firm view of what needs to happen and are keen to make progress. Some of the people won't be sure and they will need more time. Other people might not be that interested and have other priorities they want to focus on.

None of this is wrong.

It is an observation of mine and one that I see repeat on a regular basis with the businesses that I come into contact with.

But, if we take the principle from the observation we have an interesting improvement strategy (one that I personally use when I get stuck with my client's improvement projects).

You might have worked out the approach from the title of this blog post, but it is analogous to a three-legged race (or four, five, nine...). If someone in the group moves in the wrong direction and / or at the wrong speed then the whole group falls over.


In the example I gave at the start it is no differe…

Do you have time to prepare (in order to become super productive)?

I had a funny conversation a few weeks ago with a team that was complaining about one of their colleagues spending 'ages' preparing their workstation within their factory. I meet a lot of people that spend too long preparing (and effectively procrastinating) so I was intrigued by their comment. It turns out that this individual didn't spend too long but rather his colleagues dived into their work without thinking through what the best way to work was...

The slower to start gentleman did in fact prepare his work area. He was also able to produce a far greater amount of work in the same time period because he had invested in a smarter way of working than his counterparts. The time spent preparing his working area was valuable and not overdone.

This example reminds us of the importance of the second S in 5S (set in order) and how workstation design is critical if we want to maximise the productivity of our teams. Whether this is a physical work area in a factory, the filing s…