How Efficiency Changes the Game
eBook - ePub

How Efficiency Changes the Game

Developing Lean Operations for Competitive Advantage

Ray Hodge

  1. 150 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

How Efficiency Changes the Game

Developing Lean Operations for Competitive Advantage

Ray Hodge

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About This Book

Obtaining a competitive advantage in today's business environment generally does not happen of its own accord. With the speed of global economic change, products to market, technology and customer preferences, organizations must light on their feet and be the drivers of change. Given that most businesses deal with the same buyers in defined markets who purchase similar products, gaining this competitive advantage is critical to both thriving and being leaders in their field. To do this, one must drive efficiencies throughout the entire organization while creating a significant point of difference. Yet, inefficiency continues to run rampant and can be found in the often-forgotten pockets of the organization, hampering efficacy at best, leading it out the door at worst.

How Efficiency Changes the Game: Developing Lean Operations for Competitive Advantage provides an insightful process for the executive, manager, and business owner, enabling them to discover inefficiencies where least expected, highlighting both the nature of the primary issues and then how to subsequently correct them. This book will assist in developing lean operations in areas such as leadership, marketing, strategy and planning, sales, time management, workflows, finances, and people.

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Information

Year
2021
ISBN
9781637420454
Subtopic
Operations
CHAPTER 1
Leadership
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
Game Changer: Efficiency does not happen of its own accord but is driven into every corner of a business through leaders dedicated to optimizing their operations. The quality of our leadership is mirrored in the health and well-being of our organizations.
In a large city, two businesses were providing similar products to a similar market that existed in neighboring suburbs. One business was owned by a man who always complained about his staff. They turned up late, stole goods from him and he was always having to hire new people to keep up with the outflow of his bad employees. He struggled to make money and his store was anything but tidy. Inefficiency reigned supreme. The other business was incredibly efficient. It was operated by a woman who spoke highly of her people and in turn, they spoke highly of her. There was no staff turnover to speak of, the place was clean and tidy, there were systems in place, and the business was profitable. The outcomes in both these businesses fully reflected their leaders.
If we look at ourselves in a glass mirror, the reflection is precisely what we look like at the time. And business is similar: reflecting in all the various functions and outcomes, its leadership. This reflection tells you who you are as a leader, serving to instruct and guide you. Sometimes we receive great personal encouragement from this reflection, affirming us in the decisions we have made and the actions we have taken. At other times, we see outcomes that are less than desired, indicating changes are required in our own leadership abilities or the need for broader organizational corrections. Whatever the mirror reveals, it points back to leadership.
The Efficient Leader
Four Foundational Leadership Disciplines That Drive Efficiency
While many disciplines could be covered here, I have chosen four of the most common ones that, from my observations, significantly impact organizational efficiencies.
1. Rest
Rest is the fertile soil from which quality work springs from.
Rest is often relegated to that of a secondary activity—that which we have to do in order to work more tomorrow. Many of us have grown up in an environment where the emphasis was placed on working hard and working long, and, if we did this, we stood a better chance of being successful. Productivity was driven from more hours at the office with success attributed to financial gains and security through effort. Work thus became the centrality of focus for one’s life with all other aspects taking a distant second, including rest.
Rest provides the context for clear thinking. A cluttered, racing mind outputs fragmented directives and diluted efforts, where multitasking becomes the norm, things are never fully completed, and people feel neglected. Efficiency is no friend to the disorganized mind but for the one where the discipline of rest is seen as an equal partner to their work, clarity of thought with cohesive actions will impact organizational efficiencies, and often, with an ease and flow we are unaware of.
Early in my business career, I thought that working long hours would create success fast. I would often turn up to the office on Wednesday morning having worked 36 hours in the previous two days. While there is no substitute for focused effort, relegating sleep to a few hours a night caught up with me. I would walk the edges of burnout every six months or so, losing weeks of momentum as I recovered. It was a case of learning the hard way. I eventually started seeing a naturopath who highlighted the need to stop living on adrenaline and start living out of rest, the foundation of which was a good night’s sleep. Instead of viewing sleep as unproductive time, I came to understand it was the perfect partner of productivity. They were two sides of the same coin.
Sleep deficit impacts workplaces in significant ways. A study conducted on four corporations in the United States found that safety, productivity, and performance were significantly worse for those employees who suffered from insomnia and insufficient sleep, concluding that “Sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity at a high cost to employers.”1
Dr. Michael A. Grandner, Director of the Sleep and Health Research Program at the University of Arizona, says:
Workplace health initiatives should promote the idea that sleep is not unproductive time. Rather, it is an investment of time that has been shown to produce improved productivity and less productivity loss. The available evidence shows that rather than more productive, individuals who are sleeping less are actually less productive, even with more time. The culture of sleep being only “rest” and therefore a sign of weakness or lack of endurance needs to change. (Grandner 2018; p. 1631)
One major contributing factor to poor sleep is the inability to psychologically detach from our work. Numerous leaders have mentioned how they wake during the night with their minds racing, with many of their partners saying they are physically present but emotionally absent when they are home. One process I have found extremely beneficial to assist the detachment process is what I have called closing the door on the day. Fifteen to 30 minutes before leaving the office, review your day’s accomplishments, and then create your plan for the following day, ensuring all your yet to be done tasks have been scheduled. Then, intentionally put your computer to sleep and, as you walk out, purposefully close the door.
One of the other issues that contribute to our struggle to detach from work is a racing mind, filled with uncompleted tasks. A highly effective method is simply getting them out of the mind by writing them onto a page, purposefully allocating them to be actioned tomorrow. If and when they reappear in our minds we can tell ourselves that “yes, I have written that down and it will be dealt with tomorrow,” assuring the mind we have it under control. When we have closed the door on the day and have settled our minds, a good night’s rest is made easier.
Rest is also about deliberately taking breaks, to calm the mind and relax the body. Rest is an activity that does not demand of us nor does it automatically insert itself in our diaries. We have to be intentional in creating space for it. Asking a business owner what personal goals she would like to achieve in the coming year, she mentioned one was to have a daily nap and the other to have Friday afternoons off. When I asked why they couldn’t enact it immediately they said it was guilt driven: if their employees had to work full days then so should they. Leaders often think they have to arrive at work first and depart last so they are seen to be leading by example. But to take time out for daily rest and regular play not only is personally rewarding, but also models the importance of rest to our people. Because busyness is often erroneously equated with productivity, we view downtime as wasted time, thus increasing the feelings of guilt, but as Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of the book Rest, emphasizes: “Too often busyness is not a means to accomplishment but an obstacle to it. Deliberate rest helps you recognize and avoid the trap of pointless busyness and concentrate instead on what’s important.” 2
2. Reflection
Working from a rested position with a calm mind helps us in the process of reflection. The word reflection, from its Latin origin, means bent back3 with one definition being “the return of light or sound waves from a surface.”4 While we view the effects of our leadership being bent back through the business mirror, it then becomes important to stop and personally reflect on the why. Why has this happened? Why did we gain such success here? Why are customer complaints increasing? Why is the team so happy of late? Pausing from doing the work, long enough to reflect on the impact of our work: deconstructing our successes, thinking through our challenges, and failures, enables greater effectiveness in the present with faster and more precise and efficient movement forward.
Some time ago I saw in the mirror of my business a plummeting conversion ratio from proposals to sales. My immediate reaction was to work harder at increasing my proposal output but instead I paused, reflected on what I was seeing, and as a result gained significant insight into the reason for the decline. I was neglecting to fulfill some of the critical aspects of the proposal/sale process that had proven themselves when my ratios were higher. From my review, reflection, and making the subsequent changes, my ratios went from 25 percent to 72 percent within the following few months. This wouldn’t have happened had I not paused to reflect, seeking to gain distinctive insights to move forward.
One of the advantages of reflection is that we can learn from our yesterdays to perform more effectively in our tomorrows. Musician Pat Metheny demonstrates this. He has kept a postshow diary for the thousands of performances he has played and among the many insights the diaries provide he says, “It sounds weird, but over time the journal has helped me work out that I shouldn’t eat before a show. I play better when I’m hungry.”5 How would anyone detect that eating affects one’s playing if they hadn’t exercised the discipline of reflection? And it’s often the undetected performance nuances that go unnoticed in the rush of leadership busyness that locks us into playing as we have always played instead of increasing the effectiveness of our work.
3. Planning
While I cover this subject in detail in Chapter 3, it is important to mention planning here as it is a fundamental discipline of effective leadership. Planning reduces anxiety and the temptation to be reactive. It enables the leader to take a more considered approach with less energy expended on secondary issues. Planning is central to efficiency and the accomplishment of strategic objectives, enabling us to be methodical in our work and build something of worth. What construction company begins a building project without first drawing up the plans? What war general goes into battle without having first strategically planned the process? What sports coach goes into a game without a plan to beat the competition and win the contest? Yet, for many in leadership, they don’t approach their work and their days with a planned approach but rather default to a more reactive style of task and people management. Thorough planning lays the groundwork from which efficient and meaningful activity ensues.
4. Delegation
Speaking with a senior manager recently, he mentioned he performed most of the requests that came his way. Despite having a team of responsible people around him he experienced guilt when he thought of delegating tasks to others. One business owner I was working with struggled to delegate due to their need to feel important. Being overloaded fuelled their sense of self-worth. Many other leaders I have coached have reverted to doing tasks themselves for the sake of speed and quality: they want it done well, they want it done now, so they perform it solo. And yet other managers fear if they are too proficient in delegation, they may effectively make themselves redundant, thus placing their jobs at risk.
Chapter 3 will cover the practical aspects of how to delegate effectively but for our purposes here, consider the following positive benefits delegation can have.
It enables leaders to expand their role capacities and work scope.
When others are entrusted with tasks, it often contributes to their sense of value to the organization.
It optimizes individual strengths.
It promotes growth within the individual, especially when it is combined with specific improvement training.
Focus on high-priority items can be maintained while secondary tasks are being fulfilled by others.
The concept of team is promoted more effectively.
It’s efficient.
Richard Branson notes: “it’s a fairy tale to think that you can do everything by yourself.” He goes on to say, “It’s vital to the success of your business that you learn to hand off those things that you aren’t able to do well.”6 And I think Richard is someone worth emulating in this ...

Table of contents

  1. Cover
  2. Half-Title Page
  3. Title Page
  4. Copyright
  5. Dedication
  6. Description
  7. Contents
  8. Foreword
  9. Acknowledgments
  10. Introduction
  11. Chapter 1 Leadership: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
  12. Chapter 2 Strategy: Go Direct—Go with Speed
  13. Chapter 3 Time Management: Just Where Did My Day Go?
  14. Chapter 4 People: People Who Feel the Love, Show the Love
  15. Chapter 5 Workflows: If It Ain’t Flowin’, It Ain’t Efficient
  16. Chapter 6 Marketing: A Targeted Approach Always Wins the Day
  17. Chapter 7 Sales: It’s All about Process, Not Personality
  18. Chapter 8 Money: “I Think We’re Doing Ok” Is Just Not Good Enough
  19. In Conclusion
  20. References
  21. About the Author
  22. Index
  23. Backcover