The 3 P’s to Efficiency and Effectiveness

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Even the most mundane activities in life or in your business have many behind-the-scenes policies, processes, and procedures that guide and govern when and how they’re done.  Take for instance a road trip to from Syracuse, New York to Boston, Massachusetts. Just jump in the car and go, right? Not quite. That five-hour trip actually has policies, processes and procedures that will affect the drive.

POLICIES

Policies that govern the trip are first of all the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law which says:  S 1180. Basic rule and maximum limits. (a) No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the condition and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.

Those potential hazards are whether the road surface is paved or dirt. Construction and weather conditions will also contribute to hazardous driving. New York State has legislated that drivers observe and comply with those conditions as well as others such a speed limits or a traffic lights when the roads are without hazards.

PROCESSES

The process of driving to Boston is from a high-level view. I need to map out the route and the tasks involved within the overall process. The car needs a full tank of gas before departure. Water and a few snacks need to be ready along with a suitcase packed with the clothing and technology needs. Leaving at 7:00 a.m. and taking the NYS Thruway should get me to my destination around noon.

PROCEDURES

Procedures get the trip underway. They are the detailed steps to perform the activity. Make a left hand turn out of the driveway. Then left onto Main Street, left onto Route 5 to the NYS Thruway to Massachusetts Turnpike to the Boston exit.

It’s the same with most business activities and backroom processes. I just completed a project improving backroom processes for a relatively large organization. We initially brainstormed significant processes with 80/20 thinking to ensure we selected significant processes.  I had eliminated this step before and spent a lot of time chasing small issues down a rabbit hole.  Begin with elimination in mind.  We then looked at the current state with a value-stream maps of the processes.  We took the policy, process, and procedure approach to developing and documenting each process.

This documentation process can be arduous at times, but final product can be awesome.  The documentation process also creates ideas for improvement.  In the project I just wrapped up, we not only created team synergy, we estimate the company eliminated over $300,000 in annual cost and created additional value for the business.

Can I help YOU with your policies, processes and procedures? Contact me.

Vital vs. Trivial: Becoming More Effective

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I get obsessed with 80/20 thinking. You’re probably familiar with the Pareto 80/20 theory that was named after the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1896. It’s the doctrine of the vital few vs. the trivial many. The theory was based on his research that 80% of the effects came from 20% of the causes. Simple thinking that has been proven time and time again in organizations. An examination of where your sales are being generated will likely reveal that 80% of sales are coming from 20% of the same customers.

In the arena of time management the application of 80/20 thinking can direct us to be more effective. Here are a few basic bullet points that reveal the workings of the doctrine of the vital few and the trivial many from the book 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch:

  • There are only a few things that ever produce important results.
  • Most efforts do not realize their intended results.
  • What you see is generally not what you get: there are subterranean forces at work.
  • It is usually too complicated and too wearisome to work out what is happening. It’s also unnecessary. All you need to know is whether something is working or not and change the mix until it is; then keep the mix constant until it stops working.
  • Most good events happened because of a small minority of highly productive forces; most bad things happen because of a small minority of highly destructive forces.
  • The majority of activities, en masse and individually are actually a waste of time. They will not contribute materially to the desired results.

I love the idea here, but it’s easy to lose sight and get focused on the trivial many. We high achievers give ourselves credit for accomplishing so much. But we’re not always getting the right stuff done. We need to continually keep this in mind. I’ve built an 80/20 segment into my morning routine checklist. Yes, it may sound crazy, but it helps me remember the doctrine of the vital few and the trivial many in all areas of my life—my business, my clients’ businesses, my health and fitness, my family life, and my happiness. Intentionally focusing on the vital few keeps me from wasting time and effort on the trivial many which easily diverts my attention.

Need help determining what’s vital to your business? Contact me.