What do the B-17 Bomber and Your Business Have in Common?
During the course of a visit with a business owner the other day, the owner informed me that he had installed some video surveillance equipment on the business premises to ostensibly improve organizational efficiency. His business is in the medical space, where working with various types of prescription medicine is a daily occurrence.
As we visited further, I asked how his new video equipment was working. Interestingly, he told me that the equipment worked well; however, he had already identified some staff procedural errors. The more we talked, I discovered that all-though his business had established, documented procedures for most tasks, it appeared that the employees did not always follow the established procedures. When he told me about some processes which appeared to be egregious, I suggested that perhaps he may have to terminate some employees. He told me that if he terminated every employee every time a procedural violation was discovered, he would have no employees and would end up doing all the work himself!
Now, I fully understand that as humans, we all make mistakes and are prone to errors. However…., the corporate climate (aka culture) determines if we continue to make errors or we follow procedures documented in the process and procedures manual. I asked the business ower, if he had documented processes and procedures. He told me that he had and all staff were responsible for reviewing those procedures on a periodic basis. My suggestion, was that he may want to increase the frequency of the review process, until such time that staff were both intimately familiar with the processes and minimal, if any errors were detected.
I am a big fan of checklists. The Air Force (my former life) ran by checklists. Now, some may say that nobody can think and thus, a checklist is needed; however a recent article in Business Week provided another spin. The recent Business Week article talked about the B-17 Bomber and all of the initial problems that airplane encountered when it was new. What was discovered was that the B-17 was so complicated for pilots, they could not remember all of the steps required in order to land the plane. Thus, several crashed early in the program. Not only were human life lost, the investment in aircraft was also significant. However, after the development of take off and landing checklists, the accident incident rate was reduced to almost zero and the B-17 continued on to a storied history.
The same is true of your business. You should have a documented process and checklist for each and every process in your business or organization. There should be a process for opening the business, turning on the lights, taking out the trash, setting up the displays– EVERYTHING and EVERY PROCESS needs to have a documented process and procedure.
Your next question is most likely, WHY? The real reason is standardization. If all of your processes and procedures are standardized, there is no question about what is expected, how a task is to be accomplished and what the end result should be. Process standardization and checklists also increase productivity and decrease training times for new employees. For a small business, the key to process documentation, standardization and checklist compliance is consistency. For many small businesses, the owner does everything. If the owner is hit by the proverbial bus on his way to work, nobody knows how to do anything.
Think about your business. Do you have established processes and procedures? Do you have process checklists for each and every task? Do you require your staff to follow the checklist each and every time? Do you explain during weekly or bi-weekly staff meetings the importance of following processes and procedures? If the answer is NO to any of these questions you have the opportunity:
- to increase your efficiency
- to achieve greater profitability
- to provide standardization of service.
My health care business owner decided to go back and review his process and procedures with his staff again, following our visit. A quick reminder, the reason you are in business is for GREEN DOLLAR BILLS! Make sure that you have procedures in place to maximize your acquisition of those bills!
To learn more about Solomon Bruce Consulting LLC, visit their listing in the Synergy Station Directory or the company website.