Actual to Best Practice™ Systemic Change Program: It’s a new way for an old game. A bottom-up, then top down improvement program.
What are the things in your business that are not the way you want? The ones keeping you up at night?
Stock discrepancies, staff issues, high levels of rework*, low margins, poor cash flow, lack of sales, client complaints. All these problems, or challenges, will have a root cause.
The gaps between what is actually happening in your business and best practice will be due to one of, or a combination of, these root causes:
1. Structures – agreed policies, procedures, standards, goals, roles, values, expectations etc.Your game plan.
2. Resources – tools, equipment, technology, information, capital, staff, vehicles.All the tools that you need to play your game.
3. Competencies – Skills and knowledge.Knowing how to play the game and the game structures.
4. Commitment – Attitude and accountability.Playing the game according to the agreed game plan.
All your pain points can be linked back to one of, or a combination of, these four root causes. Yes, even the impact of a drought. After all, rain is a resource.
The process works best when you involve those closest to the problem to put forward their suggestions on how to fix the problem (bottom-up). So, where do you start? Always start with root cause Number 1: Structures. This means either formalizing (documenting) your current game plan or developing a new one.
A sporting example.
We can apply this root cause approach to an elite football or netball team.
Team members in a high performing teams all understand:
Let’s use low margins to test this theory.
When investigating the root cause of low margins, first ask yourself, “Have we agreed and documented margin protection policies and procedures?”
If not, you could meet with your team to discuss and agree upon the margin protection process (this is bottom-up). Then, if necessary, provide training in their new margin protection policies and procedures (competencies).
The next step is to ensure you model the new margin protection process. NB: Cynicism and resentment results from Managers not modeling the behaviors expected of staff!
The final step is reporting. Staff report how many discounts they have given and for you to report on GP percentage and the number of items sold below agreed GP targets (commitment and accountability). Where we have implemented this process, margins have increased by as much as 2 percent.
It is a simple process, but not easy.
Simple does not mean easy, because the process means resolving conflict.
When engaged to help management and staff solve a problem, quite often the problem has not just popped its head up in the last few weeks. It has been ongoing for months, sometimes even years.
For example, one client asked me, “How do you stop someone coming to work late?” I inquired how long has it been happening, and he said, “Six years.” Oops, too late. The informal structure (starting time) is established. We agreed to formalize a later starting and knock-off time.
Try it at your team meetings.
When you conduct a team meeting and a member raises a rework issue, mistake, client complaint etc. ask, “Is the issue due to poor structures, resources, competency or commitment?”
Get staff / work colleagues involved.
Achieving best practice means engaging your entire team to either confirm or formalize your current game plan or to design a new one.
The first step in achieving best practice is identifying (measuring) the gaps between your business actuals and accepted industry best practices. How would your staff/colleagues rate their business structures against the best practices of their industry?
Get them involved. Ownership results from input.
What are your gaps?
So, would you like to know how you compare to the best practices of your industry in regard to:
Benchmarking and confronting the truth is the first step towards best practice, and by taking this step, who knows...you may start getting a better night’s sleep.
*Rework is an efficiency measure. It is doing any task again due to the task not being fully and accurately completed in the first instance. For example, checking for missing stock is rework.