We can all stand to get better. And that doesn’t mean a whole new paradigm, like winning the lottery or being dropped into a new career. Sometimes it’s just about making the wheel run smoother than it did before – not reinventing it. Staying focused on efficiency is committing yourself to renewal. It’s not just improving things; it’s believing you can improve things.
So how do you go about making your business run better than it did before – and keep on getting better? There are some habits of mind and routine practices that will make all your projects and processes run a whole lot smoother.
Pay attention to slowly accumulating problems
When your project’s going well – a successful product launch, a popular new service, whatever it might be – you have a tendency to overlook the little things that may be going wrong. A positive result makes everybody happy, but look closer: usually, a positive result could be much more positive. Almost inevitably, there are some little things dragging the numbers down.
The thing is, as insignificant as these problems may seem, they have a tendency to accumulate over time, like kelp on the hull of a ship. One or two won’t make a difference, but if you’re not there to nudge them off, pretty soon you’ll have a whole lot of drag slowing you down. Catch the little problems early – especially the ones that aren’t so obvious.
Own the problems too
One of the reasons we don’t work more diligently towards improving efficiency is that we don’t consider it our problem. People will spend years going to an office and sitting at a desk that’s off-kilter, instead of finding a way to right it. Fundamentally, they think it doesn’t really matter – that it has nothing to do with them.
If you want your business to get better, you have to take ownership, not just of the progress, but of the problems as well. They may not be your fault, but you can do something about them – and ultimately, that’ll make everyone’s lives better, including yours. Don’t let whatever’s going wrong in your business fade into the background. If you care about a business, every problem is yours.
If you don’t know what’s wrong with your business already, someone does – and you need to ask them about it. It’s not enough to have a suggestion box. Actively seek out the opinions of all your business’ stakeholders: employees, clients, and community. For you to get better you have to have a clear idea of what needs improving. And remember: the perspective that matters most isn’t someone who’s too close, like you. Get a dispassionate opinion to get the best idea of what could really use some work. Ideator is a great place to start.