Stuck in a rut? Maybe it’s time to challenge your processes!

For a business to grow, repeatable systems and processes are a foundational component for creating a scalable business. The business of franchising businesses would not exist without this model.  It’s not an accident that a Big Mac tastes the same no matter where you order it. Healthy or not, building a Big Mac is a process that is repeated globally 900 million times/year!

What does this mean for your business?  Whether they are documented or not every business operates with several systems or processes in place. With a little effort you can identify numerous procedures you have systematized in your business. Having clear, repeatable ways of completing functions will reduce mistakes, increase productivity, reduce waste, and increase consistency in the delivery of your product or service.

However, there’s also a dark side to getting fixated on repeating the process. Once a procedure is established a company can get so focused on repeating that process, they stop considering other ways to complete it. New suggestions are not considered, because they are to busy focusing on following the established process. As you might imagine, this tends to kill innovation.

Why is this? Too much focus on how things have always been done are how a once creative entrepreneurial business, full of new ideas, becomes a stagnant company repeating monotonous routine procedures day in and day out. Worse yet, their growth stalls, and it’s not clear what’s actually causing the resistance.  Have you ever experienced this in a business?

This stagnation unfortunately is what can happen in every business; even yours.  When a business is young everything is questioned, because everything is new. You didn’t have all the answers and asking questions is how you learn.  But as your business matures you gain experience; you became an “expert in your field”, and you ask fewer questions because you know so much. That entrepreneurial mindset that was constantly looking for new and better ideas to implement innovative processes becomes complacent and stops working and improving.

Processes become outdated. Innovation is lost. And complacency reigns. In a competitive and dynamic business environment this is a recipe for failure…!

So what can you do? Here are a few ideas to start with:

Challenging Your Processes…

Here’s 3 simple steps you can take to challenge processes in your business

1)      Ask Questions…Lots of them!   

  • Forget about all the current processes you have in place and start asking yourself questions about everything. If your gut is telling you a process is broken ask questions. Just like you did when your business was young, you know…before you knew everything! 

2)      Leverage Internal Resources

  • If you have different departments, bring team members from other departments into the picture.  Have them observe and provide input. Have them review the current processes in place.  This can be a great team building exercise and remind everyone how each area of the business impacts the overall success of the company.  

3)      Get a fresh perspective

  • Invite someone from the outside into your business.  You may be surprised what a fresh set of eyes may see. If you know another business owner, offer to exchange this process of reviewing each other’s systems, both of you will benefit!

In today’s environment of constant change the traditional “rinse and repeat” model simply is not enough.  You should be systemically asking questions and challenging your existing “perfected” processes to keep your business moving forward.  Those once cutting-edge processes may have evolved into leashes that are now holding back the growth of your business.

What do you think? Are you improving your processes? Are there processes in your business overdue for challenge? Please share any thoughts or suggestions you have in the comments below.  As always we value your opinions.

Chris Steinlage Kansas City Business Coach

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