“Being proactive will gain you much more efficiency than just doing something better.”
Only a few short months ago, when we were opening up the cottage for the summer, I wrote about efficiency and the power of a new, modern rake, a $20 tool, to make the spring clean-up easier. Today, as we shut down the cottage for the fall, I’m pleased to advise that we’ve dramatically improved our clean up efficiency in two ways.
We’ve leveraged technology and upgraded from manual raking to power blowers. More importantly, we’ve become proactive and did next year’s spring clean-up this fall.
Instead of manually, physically, painstakingly scraping up dead leaves squished into the ground after a long, cold winter of snow and ice piled on them, we’ve blown them into piles in the bushes where they are happily composting as nature intended. No plastic bags were used in this clean up.
- What are you doing in business, reactively as part of your normal processes, that could be done proactively instead?
- What could be enhanced with technology or leverage such as processes and delegation to make the process more efficient?
Yes, efficiency is about how to get things done more quickly, with less effort or cost, and with less waste.
Many business founders grew their business by doing the technical work. Their major opportunity for becoming more efficient—as leaders—is to delegate the ‘how’ of something is done to others.
Many professional with years of experience know the shortcuts. Yet they become more efficient when they let their people learn and figure out things on their own, thus gaining them experience (which we usually get from making mistakes). Their people will also become more confident that they can figure out things for themselves.
When I’m advising my clients, I always remind them that “with every pair of hands, you get a free brain and a free heart.” It’s management’s job to keep their employees’ brains and hearts engaged.
Figure 79.1 Hands + brain + heart = Engaged
An engaged employee will be much more effective, efficient, and productive than a disengaged employee. How engaged are your employees?
Another way to increase efficiency is to start a routine process from scratch. Just start over. Work backwards from your goal. It doesn’t matter how you used to do things before. It only matters that you’re pursuing your goals in the best manner possible.
For example, when I’m advising clients on financial management, I always interview the Board of Directors and senior leaders and ask them what information they use and how they use it. It’s a shocking surprise to the finance department that their stacks of detailed reports are not analyzed.
It’s also a well-documented fact that most boards receive too much information and often too late for the board to effectively review and analyse the information. You can make your board more effective by giving them less information and definitely less data.
If your managers haven’t summarized the information into observations, insights, or patterns, and they know the detailed significance, how do you expect your board to do so?
Efficiency is less about speed and more about throughput.
Here are some easy things to look for in your business. What processes or tasks in your business are you or your people doing that:
- Don’t add value?
- Don’t improve results?
- Waste people’s time?
- Take too long?
- Consume lots of resources?
- Are done because they’ve always been done, even if no one knows why?
- Waste resources that are more valuable elsewhere?
- Frustrate the creators or users of the information?
- Are redundant? For example, data entry into excel when your accounting system cannot create basic reports.
- Is busy work that people hoard to protect their job security?
It’s easier to improve efficiency when you work backwards from your important goals and tasks. Don’t ask, “How do I do this better?” Instead, ask “What tasks will advance us towards our goal, and who should do them?”
When you get tasks off your to-do list, you will become more efficient. The same approach works for your department and your company. When the tasks are aligned with your goals and done by the right people, you’ll have so much more capacity that you’ll be able to implement new strategies.
As always, if you’d like help becoming more efficient so you can grow your business and build your business wealth more quickly, give me a call.
Full speed ahead!
Thanks for reading.