Skip to main content


The value of a day

Days pass so quickly and I'm sure that most of us have experienced the feeling when we realise that months have passed by and memories are a blur. But how valuable were those days to our business? From a lean perspective we can either spend our time on value adding activities, or on wasteful activities. Let me clarify - there are two types of waste: 1 - Things that just shouldn't be done (non-essential waste) and should be eliminated 2 - Things that must be done, but we don't get paid for doing them (essential waste) and should be minimised For example: Value adding activities - doing the fundamental work that our client pays us for Essential waste - strategic planning, HR, accounts, system development Non-essential waste - re-working documents, waiting, taking longer than necessary It is worth asking yourself from time to time - 'how valuable is this work that I am doing?' By understanding the payback that the work gives to the business we can craft

What's the current ROI?

When working on an improvement project it's recognised that we should know where we are in terms of becoming better off. Many times however it is apparent that the measures that would tell us how things are going are not in place. Agreeing what these measures are and how to record the right information is a skill that can make a huge difference to the business. More interesting than this is the fact that most organisations only measure external factors - which aren't always in our control. When you look at the business processes in terms of the internal and external measures you can develop a far more complete approach to managing performance. Review your performance indicators and see if you have got a good mix of external and internal measures. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Is progress tangible?

When a project is progressing along isn't it always nice to be able to see how it is going? How many times have you been on a project and you are not sure how it is really going? The use of milestones and agreed communication is a great way to get a project off to a great start. This can even be extended permanently into the processes of a business to understand the continual benefits being derived. Milestones are an interesting tool. When someone asks how a project is going it is often easy to say 'yeah - OK', when the real answer is 'we are behind schedule on part X, but three weeks ahead on part Y... we need help'. The benefit of using a milestone is having the 'go no-go' conversation. It either is, or isn't on track at that agreed point in time. The deviation from that point then can be assessed as to what needs to happen. Agreeing communication routes / methods for the project and the milestones can help to understand how tangible progress really is

Regular service updates

Some days it feels like we are being bombarded with information and some days we just don't seem to have enough. The amount of updates that are being given within and to an organisation is a topic that I find really interesting. How do people keep on track of what is going on? Does it help? Does it make people more accountable? Somewhere in the midst of all the information that flies around a business is the right amount (and the right quality too!). If you ask around at your place of work you are likely to find reports that are produced too frequently and that aren't read. You might find meetings that take place that are no longer meaningful to the current business activities. You may find that data gathering is taking place, but is no longer referred to as information. What are the key sources of information your organisation needs to manage itself effectively? Do you have them at the right frequency, and is the information correct? Could be worth checking out.

Find the little steps

There are certain themes that keep on turning up when you look into the performance of an organisation. One of the recurring themes is that of progress, or lack of it, on key projects. We've talked about the use of 'kaizen' principles before - trying to find the smallest amount of action that you can take to start moving you forward with an endeavour. Many recent projects have utilised this very principle to get some movement on a project before a natural level of acceleration takes place bringing the project back up to speed. It all goes back to the realisation that people can get freaked out by change and struggle to make the right changes to their working ways in order to implement the improvement. Little steps - it sounds like it will take forever, but trust me - it usually saves a lot of time and effort. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Electronic vs. Face-to-Face

You can track the performance of projects in many cases to the amount of face to face contact that takes place during the life of the project. E-mail is an amazing tool that helps to deliver messages at a lightning pace, and often this gives people the impression that face to face contact can be minimised. Many times have I seen people sitting in the same office reciprocating with e-mails whilst both are seated - and it's an ongoing conversation! Looking into someone's eyes when you have a project update meeting can tell you so much more that by just reading an e-mail. I accept that there is a justification for efficiency, but is the balance right in your organisation? Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'

Clarify the distractions

When you look back at the end of a working day - what do you see? Do you see a whole raft of accomplishments that will help to improve your business performance, or a load of inconveniences that only served to hinder? If you do spare a couple of minutes at the end of the day to review these annoyances you can often start to find patterns emerging. When you find a pattern you can then do something about it. One of the best ways to do this is to use the '5 Why' tool to delve down into the root causes of the problem and solve it once and for all. It never ceases to amaze me how many other problems just disappear at the same time - obviously they are symptomatic of the original problem. Smartspeed Consulting Limited 'For When Results Matter'