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Customers #Disruption #Excellence #Growth #Opportunity #Planning #ProblemSolving #Resilience #Success #Teams #Unstoppable #Winners #QOTWThis is really a continuation of the thinking around last week’s post, “Opportunity doesn’t make appointments” – you should not just be ready for it, but actively work to create your own future.

By this, I suggest looking hard at how you can ensure your organisation keeps momentum on having an innovative and proactive mindset. Things like:

  • Active, open communication with your customers and suppliers – they’re generally very willing to offer suggestions on what you can do differently / better. After all, they’re just looking for an easier relationship with you and this can really help your business, too. I’ve always made a point of meetings with both, asking the famous questions, “What are we doing well?” “What are we doing badly?” “What would you like us to start doing, or do more of?” “What would you like us to stop doing, or do less of?” It’s amazing what you can get as answers that can really add a new dimension to your business and relationship.
  • Similarly open communication with your staff – after all, those who are interacting with your customers and suppliers on an ongoing basis probably know the frustrations felt by them, as well as by themselves in having to go through the current systems / processes. Have a rewards program in place for ideas and suggestions, and reward publicly to encourage a steady flow of great ideas. And, if you don’t have a ‘mystery shopper’ system in place that tests your business interfaces periodically, put one in place – it’ll save your business time and money.
  • Constantly look at how to simplify things – most businesses have systems and processes that have been built and adapted over many years as the business grows. Often these include things that are no longer necessary but remain as “that’s how we’ve always done it.” Keep asking the questions about how you do things, why you do them that way, and whether you can improve this. Can you make it shorter, faster? Ask yourself if you would do something differently “next time” and, if so, change it now.

I remember, for example, in my early days as a programmer, we produced massive reports each month – in triplicate – for the executives. These showed details of every transaction that month, and, frankly, were almost impossible to digest (part from being expensive to produce – this being the days before email, etc.). We asked some questions one day and then changed the reports so they only reported on exceptions (parameter-driven) for margin, size, etc. The result: much, much smaller reports that gave meaningful information to the management team while saving money.

And in this day of pervasive inexpensive apps you should also be looking to see whether you can take advantage of these to produce better systems and processes.

  • Look outside your business and your industry – don’t just confine your thinking to what you’re currently doing or what your competitors do differently. That can put you in “catch-up” mode. While you need to improve your systems and counter any advantage competitors might have, look outside your industry, too, and see what other industries are doing better, where you might be able to use technology to gain an advantage, and so on. Look at what Airbnb has done to the hotel and hospitality industry, Uber has done to the transport business, and so on. Ask yourself what it is that you’re really selling? How can you be the next Uber or Airbnb in your industry?
  • Create fun virtual “skunk works” teams – the original Skunk Works was, of course, coined by Lockheed Martin back in 1943 in response to the need to design and produce a jet fighter in 150 days. Since then, the term has been used for small cross-functional teams that set out to produce innovative products and services. In this virtual world, you can easily create these cross-functional teams and allow them to work on their ‘out of the box’ thinking for a few hours a week. Make it fun by offering rewards for the best ideas, too… The competition helps stimulate thinking, while this sort of fun, engaged environment increases productivity so more than pays for itself.

Combine these ideas with open and clear communication on your vision, mission and values and you can go a long way to creating an exciting and profitable future for your business as a market-leader.

 

#BusinessFitness Customers #Disruption #Excellence #Growth #Opportunity #Planning #ProblemSolving #Resilience #Success #Teams #Unstoppable #Winners #QOTW

 

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