New Year, New Processes!

Lean Mean Process Improvement Machine

It’s that special time of year where the gym is full, carrot sticks are out of stock at the local grocery store and everyone is looking to get a little #leanermeanerhealthier. After a week full of delicious wine, bacon topped turkey, and more chocolate than humanly possible, I’m ready to look at how I can be a lean mean process improvement machine. Whiteboard Consulting has learned a boatload this year, and we’ve shared many of our tips and tricks with you. Have you thought about how you are going to lean out your business this year?

New Years Resolutions for your Business….

So you’ve made it through another year, new clients, new offices, new staff turnover. Many changes but you are doing well. What now? Sit back and relax? Or is now the time to really look at how things are moving, and make sure that your operation is running #betterfastercheaper than last year?

Is checking LinkedIn or Facebook your procrastination tactic because you don’t know what to start first? Are you buried in emails and running from meeting to meeting without focus? Does Steve in accounting just drive you crazy because he never likes your ideas? How can you efffectively implement a change without all the drama and naysayers? Well, you are in luck. We’ve picked our top 5 tips from this year and put them in one handy place so that you can start the new year #betterfastercheaper.

Whiteboard Consulting’s Top Five Tips of 2012. New Year: New Processes

  1. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize. When faced with an overwhelming feeling that you’ll never get it all done, make a list. ( Click to tweet.) Write it all down in no particular order. Then, make three sub-lists: Urgent, Priority, and Later.
    First look at the Urgent list. Add due dates and times. Grab a calendar and plot the things you need to do urgently into each day. Cancel or move meetings or social engagements that are in the way. Do the same thing with the Priority list, and finally the Later list. The tasks from these two lists may stretch into two or three (or more) weeks, giving you some breathing room to focus on the urgent items. (See the full article here.)
  2. Email: Info & Action please. It’s simple, cordial, to the point, and it eliminates confusion. More importantly it signals to the intended recipient, whether they need to act, or, sit back and absorb the information for future reference. Begin the subject line of your eMail with (Action) or (Info). You can provide more detail if you like, such as (Action: Approval) or (Action: Your Opinion Please). This allows people to sort on subject line and deal with action items first. The rest of the subject line should provide context for the Action or Info contained in the eMail. (See the full article here.)
  3. I HATE MEETINGS. Always have an objective for the outcome of the meeting so everyone understands why they are there and what to prepare: In today’s managers meeting, make the following final decisions for Project X: final budget and target completion date. Put this in the email request so everyone can see it clearly. Now you understand why you are there, what decisions are going to be made, and you make sure they are complete by the end of the meeting (because you arrived on time too….). AND – the magical 10% Late rule: if you are more than 6 minutes late for a 60 minute meeting and there isn’t sufficient quorum to make the decisions (outlined in a above) the meeting is cancelled and rescheduled. (See the full article here.)
  4. No Buts, AND by the way! How many times have you been in a meeting or on a conference call and heard phrases that start off like these? “I like that idea, but I just want to add…” or “I agree with everything she said, but you should also consider…“I don’t mean to argue, but …” “I’m sorry but…” Next time you hear the word “but” used like that, listen to the context. Essentially, that tiny word negates everything that came before it. (Click to Tweet.) “I agree with everything she said, but…” means I don’t actually agree with everything at all! “I don’t mean to argue, but…” means I’m about to argue. “I’m sorry, but…” means I’m not sorry. And in fact, I’m about to shift the blame to someone or something else. Why do people make this common mistake so frequently? In most cases, it’s a genuine attempt attempt to soften the blow. In others, it’s a passive-aggressive response designed to sound nice, while inflicting some kind of finger-pointing.The easy way to fix this? Substitute “but” with “and”. Easy peasy! Now you’re giving feedback AND adding to it or changing it with clear intentions. It makes you sound better and makes the listener want to hear what you have to say.My challenge to you? Listen for the errant “but” at meetings. And especially – listen when YOU say it. Replace it with “and” – you’ll see the difference, and so will your colleagues! (See the full article here.)
  5. The Squish Method of Change. So if you want to implement ANY of the tips you’ve read so far at your workplace, consider any little change to be an opportunity to practice your change management techniques. Try the Squish Method: Communicate, Role Model, and give Feedback, from the top,down, across and then right back up again creating the “squish point” where magic, and change really happen.(Click to Tweet). Communicate the change you want to make and WHY you are making it. What happens if you don’t make the change? What benefits will we see if we do make the change? Role model the behaviour your want to see (ie. use Info/Action, be on time, no buts etc) then, lastly provide positive feedback to people who change their habits and have a coaching conversation with those who haven’t made the switch. Ask why? What will make you change? (See the full article here.)

So, try these tips out this year. Tell us how they worked at or on Twitter @whiteboardcons using #betterfastercheaper.

Stay tuned for new blogs on Friday’s in 2013 for more new tips from @whiteboardcons to make you the #bestestfastestcheapest. Happy New Year.