Everyone always talks about starting a business with the "30,000 foot view" with details to follow. As businesses get established and run into bumps or market changes, management works to remove the impediments or adjust to the need and then gets back to the grind.
How often do you think you've been in the same situation? Now, when was the last time you looked at the business as a whole and asked: "Can we be doing this better?"
Unfortunately for most people, the 'if it's not broke' mentality kicks in quickly when trying to evaluate what could be better. During the initial decision-making process, ideas are quickly discarded due to time, budget, or resource constraints. As a result, processes or requirements quickly ossify and become static and unchanging and are deemed 'not broken' and don't need fixing.
While this is true to some degree, it misses the idea that things could be better.
One of our clients was distributing goods from their warehouse through their website and their Amazon store. Due to Amazon's changes to their integration infrastructure, our client asked us to help modernize their data exchange. As part of the due diligence, I drew out the fulfillment process in a swimlane diagram, labeling all actors, physical handoffs, data needs, and information updates.
When I presented the current and new methods to the owner, he looked like he'd been struck by lightning.
The backstory is our client's business had grown significantly. He had made decisions and scaled his business as best as he could given the time and resources he had at his disposal.
It made sense at the time based on the circumstances. Our client's view was, what's done is done. He believed the only way to grow was to add more bodies to scale horizontally in order to increase throughput.
But by laying out this one process, he was suddenly aware of the malleability of his business processes. The wheels in his head started to spin. He then realized he could apply this same principle to the rest of his business.
At our next meeting, expecting to answer a few questions and get started on the project, I was startled when, instead of the normal greetings, our client thumped a giant roll of paper onto the table. Unrolling it (and grinning all the while), I saw the swimlane diagram I had designed, but significantly expanded. The diagram was printed on a plotter and had come out to nearly 8 linear feet of colored boxes, lines, and text. Over the weekend our client examined the rest of his business and plotted them alongside the original swimlane chart.
The result? We went to work and delivered our client a custom solution that helped him increase efficiency by 20% and reduced points of failure. He was able to invest in staff that could help him grow his business instead of hiring workers to fill the gaps in inefficient systems.
What does this mean to you? What if you re-thought what you are doing today? If your business has grown quickly, maybe you have some hidden gems that will result in higher efficiency? Faster fulfillment. Fewer points of failure. The impact on your business could be extraordinary.
Next time you are thinking, "it’s not broke" consider it may not be broken, but it could certainly be better. Need help modernizing what you are doing today? Contact us. We would love to help you have your "aha" moment.