Nothing but…A little Change

Best Practices and Process Improvement

Why are business professionals publically in favor of terms such as Best Practices and Process Improvement, but silently dread them in private?

One would think identifying the top methods in their industry would have great appeal. Improving procedures would be near the top of all professional’s on-going education.  Yet, far too many of these individuals revel in putting major stumbling blocks for transformation between them and the success they ultimately seek.

We often encounter these business professionals fighting this change every inch of the way, with arms folded and heels dug in. Fears include increasing costs, demonstrating competency and sustaining quality.  The ego of leadership can also be a major stumbling block. Past failures with innovation can make a company shy about new efforts. Yet, none of these are valid excuses.

Many organizations lack the brutal honesty to deal with changes in policies, processes and procedures. Only when laws are passed and mandates are made will these companies react to these better practices. Trusted, tried and true methods often have with them a perceived safety net effect. If it worked in the past, many rationalize that it still has to be relevant.

A young equipment leasing sales rep once reported that he was calling on a capital equipment dealer and his contact was the company’s general manager, a man many years his senior. His company appeared perfect for leasing and finance programs. When he would ask the general manager questions about financing options for their customer, the prospect would reply, “Steve wouldn’t like it.”  Each question would inadvertently boil down to the same response, “Steve wouldn’t like it.”  About forty minutes into the sales call, the young account manager asked the sales manager, “I keep hearing you say that Steve wouldn’t like it. May I talk to him and find out what he really thinks?” The general manager responded, “Steve died in 1977.”  The tried and true methods from preserving “The Legacy of Steve” had won out over offering their customers payment plans and finance options.   The account manager reported the company was sold eighteen months later.

Leading and innovative organizations know differently. They are part of the disruption culture. They fully understand that if they don’t look to the horizon and watch what’s coming, they will be found out of style, obsolete or part of the past just like a Montgomery Ward’s catalogue. Having an empowered team of professionals who do the right thing every time, see their part in the picture and can adapt to new tools, techniques and thoughts on how their industry works is critical to maintaining long term success.

In today’s evolving business marketplace, companies need to respond with every best possible method to leverage efficiencies, protect margins, improve process and remain responsive to competitive pressures. The idea behind studying and implementing Best Practices and Process Improvement is crucial. Organizations who perceive change as a strategy to avoid are as outdated as continuing to manage one’s operations by the Gospel according to Steve, circa 1977.

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