Today’s story is a good analogy for business owners who have been running their business for a few years and have not refreshed their working methods. Very often we continue to do the same things each day/week/month without thinking about WHAT we are actually doing and WHY we are doing it.
New technologies and new ideas are great at streamlining and improving our methods of working and can bring a number of benefits to the organisation – not least cost and time efficiencies. Sometimes you may be going through the motions without really understanding WHY you are doing it or WHAT you are trying to achieve.
It may be that when the process was first introduced it worked well, but as the business has grown the process should have been revised or changed.
I have worked with organisations that have never considered the ‘WHY’ or ‘WHAT’ when going about their business.
Business owners should always be challenging themselves to improve their working practices and not be afraid to encourage their staff to suggest better ways of working. This review should be a vital undertaking, especially when the business is growing and expanding, the processes need to follow suit.
He following story illustrates this beautifully. This story is called:
A little girl was watching her mother prepare a fish for dinner. Her mother cut the head and tail off the fish and then placed it into a baking pan. The little girl asked her mother why she cut the head and tail off the fish.
Her mother thought for a while and then said, “I've always done it that way – that's how Grandma did it.”
Not satisfied with the answer, the little girl went to visit her grandma to find out why she cut the head and tail off the fish before baking it.
Grandma thought for a while and replied, “I don't know. My mother always did it that way.”
So the little girl and the grandma went to visit Great Grandma to find out if she knew the answer.
Great grandma thought for a while and said, “Because my baking pan was too small to fit in the whole fish”.
Some business owners are so close to their business that they unable to take time to look at the business strategically and see that there could be a better way to do things.
So take a step back and look at the organisation as a whole and also consider the constituent parts to ensure that they work in harmony. Refer to a knowledgeable specialist that will see the business from experience and with fresh eyes and may be able to see some obvious benefits from change.
I had a classic situation last year talking with someone who had taken over the business from his parents.
He was using post-it notes and scraps of paper to take orders and make notes– because that’s how they had always done it. He did not know any other way of working because he was trained by his parents to follow suit. It just needed someone to show him another method.
He now has a proper day book and order processing system, but it was a real pain to get him to change. But what a massive difference it has made to the way the business runs.
We call this ‘not knowing what you don’t know’ and often occurs when we engage with business owners. After all most business owners are great at what they do, but do not necessarily understand the fundamentals of running a business.
Business owners need to regularly step away from their business and look at it more strategically. Do not be afraid of change, listen to ideas from your staff and advisers, embrace it and see the benefits that can be delivered. Do not be satisfied with doing something just because:
“We have always done it this way”