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What to do? What not to do?

Out of all the improvements and changes you could make what are the very few that will make all the difference? This question is fundamental in any organisation. We have all had experience of large improvement programmes not translating through to results for the overall organisation. In contrast to this we have also experienced seemingly small, insignificant changes have, surprising positive impact to an organisation as a whole.

So how do we make more of the right decisions here? We believe this starts with asking the right questions. Try asking yourself or your teams the following questions:

What is the limiting factor of our organisation?

This could be internal such as in production, or external for example in the supply chain or market place. Check be asking yourself:  ”If I  had more of this limiting factor would it improve our bottom-line?”

How well are you supporting your limiting factor?

Once you have identified your limiting factor start to understand how well it is being supported at the moment. If you have a sales limitation, how many well prepared sales meetings is your top sales person making with qualified leads? Don’t be surprised if this is less than 10% of their time. What about production; if your limitation is a particular resource or manufacturing process, how well is the resource being utilised with the right work? Don’t look at your computerised reports, go and have a look; don’t be surprised that this is below 60-70% utilisation.

Understanding the value of improving your limitation is important to give the energy and determination to follow through. If you have a sales limitation, what effect on the bottom line would selling one more product be? This will probably be equal to your selling price, less materials, and the same question if production is limiting you. What effect on the bottom line would making one more product have?

With your team, identify all the things you could do to maximise the potential of the limitation. Start with the ideas that are easy to implement and require minimal investment. If it’s sales, how do you support your best sales people? This may mean off-loading as much work as possible from these people so they can spend more time selling.

Plan to remove your current limiting factor

There may be investment required here, if after supporting your limitation it is still holding back the performance of your organisation as a whole.

With the above in mind review the decisions or indecisions you have made in the past. Evaluate current initiatives with a focus on your limitations. Often improvements are identified through someone having a good idea. This is great for engaging your people and using their creativity but if it is misdirected you will not see the results on your bottom line, and in some cases it can have a negative effect.

Why don’t you try this today? Call a meeting with your team, work on your limitations and see the results. Please comment on the success you have had below.

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