Weak Processes Produce Weak Results

Every system is perfectly designed to achieve the results it gets.  – W. Edward Deming

Weak processes commonly emerge from reorganizations and realignment when there is little time to critically evaluate why activities are being performed and everyone is trying to just get the work finished.  If your area has been restructured, you already know that there are processes around you that are inefficient and perhaps not working at all.

Improving weak processes can take time but the payoff can be exceptional.  Consider P.F. Changs restaurants as an example.  In 2008, other restaurants across the U.S. were failing and many were forced to cut prices to lure cash-strapped consumers back into the restaurants.   Yet, P.F. Changs was able to improve their operating profit by an astounding 38% while their same store sales were decreasing.  How did P.F. Changs accomplish such an improvement?  By examining every element of their business that didn’t negatively affect the food or the guest experience and applying questions such as these:

  • Why is work being done? Is it really necessary?
  • What is being done and what is its purpose? 
  • How is it being done?  Is there a better way?
  • Where else can it be done?  Can other areas do it more efficiently?
  • When is the work done?  Can it be done less often or consolidated?
  • Who does the work?  Are they trained or sufficiently skilled? Should they be doing it?

The questions you ask about your business matter – a lot.  Select a process that you believe is inefficient and ask the above questions about the process.  Chances are good that you and your team will quickly find some “low hanging fruit” in the form of improved efficiencies that more than pays for the time you invested in such an endeavor.  Your payoff will be a more efficient process and, more importantly, extra time for you to focus on high-value strategic activities.  Give it a try and let me know the result of your efforts.

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