(Time to read this important Blog article is about 3 minutes)

As you focus on how to make 2020 your best year ever, there will be some things that need ‘fixing’ in your business. In working with business in over 40 industries throughout the world, I’ve discovered that there are 4 clear steps to fixing what needs fixing in any business. Here they are…

Step #1: Awareness:  ‘Awareness’ is simply knowing that some part of your business isn’t ‘right’ yet. You’re not yet where you want or need to be, to be a profitable market leader, to achieve world-class operating efficiency, or to become your Vision.

Perhaps some of your products or services aren’t the best they could be. Or, you’re falling short in delivering the customer experience that you’ve promised. Perhaps you’ve not created the internal business environment (culture) required to attract, engage and keep the best people. Perhaps you’re falling short in planning and budgeting, control, accountability, profitability or implementation and follow-up. Your shortfall could be in technology, systems or communication. It could be that you’ve not yet met your commitments to your community or the environment or that there are non-performing or toxic employees that you’ve not dealt with.

‘The beginning of wisdom is the recognition of reality.’ Are you aware of the specific areas in your business that aren’t ‘right’ yet? Can you list them and prioritize them? Without ‘awareness, there will be no improvement. To quickly determine which areas of your business need work, click here to download our Key Challenge Audit Sheet. This insightful 1-page business tool takes just 4 minutes to complete and has helped 1,000’s of our clients to ‘get real’ about what needs fixing. Read the instruction page carefully.
But ‘awareness’ alone will get you nowhere! Which brings us to…

Step #2: A passionate and urgent commitment to fix what needs fixing: Many businesses know where they’re falling short…but lack the ability, energy, urgency or passion to fix it. They’re over their heads, burnt out, or just don’t give a damn.

Years ago my father drove a Jaguar XJ6 with the world’s most unreliable windshield wipers, which he thought rather odd, given that it was built in the UK where it rains all the time. By chance, father met the Chairman of Jaguar at some big-shot business event and when he mentioned that he was a Jag owner, the Chairman inquired, “And how do you like your Jag?”

Not wanting to miss an opportunity to go right to the top with his problem, father told him about his huge frustration with the windshield wipers. To which the Chairman offhandedly replied, “Oh Jack, we don’t seem to have that one quite right yet, do we!”

Clearly, the Chairman was aware of the problem. He had arrived at Step #1. But, judging by his offhand remark, there was no passionate or urgent commitment to fix it. Are you passionately committed to fixing the things that need fixing in your business? Do you have a competent team to whom you can delegate some of these challenges?

Step #3 – Analysis / Creativity / Decision / and an Action Plan: Here’s where the real work begins. For each thing that you’re committed to fixing or creating in your business, work through the stages of problem or opportunity analysis / creativity / decision making / and committing to an Action Plan that states clearly what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, measured how and rewarded how.

  1. Analysis: Get the facts! If it’s a problem you’re solving, get to the real root cause. Don’t just attack surface problems. If it’s an opportunity you’re pursuing, make sure that you have all the important facts. Either way, if your analysis is wrong, your action will likely be wrong…and your outcome will be wrong.
  2. Creativity: Encourage creativity within your organization and know when to ‘rent’ creativity from the outside. Ask your team, your suppliers and your customers for their ideas. In doing so you’ll learn from them…and you will honor them. Find out who the real experts are on what you’re trying to fix or create. The good ones will save you a bundle and the bad ones will cost you a fortune.
     
    Don’t try to ‘reinvent the wheel’. What are other successful businesses doing about whatever problem or opportunity you’re working on…and then figure out how to do it even better!
     
    What has never been done? What ideas, when implemented, would blow your customers away or give you an big operational advantage that would transform your bottom line?
     
    Ask the ‘wonderful’ question which is, “What would be the most wonderful thing that we could do in solving this problem or creating this opportunity?” Years ago, in our ‘almost famous’ lady’s fashion store, we came up with ‘wonderful’ in the form of a choice of 7 free beverages; 4 hooks in the change rooms; electric massage chairs for husbands and boyfriends; a pirate ship play area for kids; change tables with free diapers, diaper wipes and cream in the customer washrooms, and an invitation to “Please take as many items in the change room as you wish!”. We came up with all these great ideas simply by asking the ‘wonderful’ question.
     
    So, get creative. What are the possibilities? What would be a ‘BIG IDEA’ here? BIG IDEAS ‘grab’ your customers, clearly differentiate you from your competitors, make you famous and grow your bottom line.

    Finally, what are the costs and the benefits of each of your ideas?

  3. Decision: Don’t analyze and create forever. Commit to a course of action in a reasonable time frame. There’s more money lost through indecision than wrong decision. Nike’s slogan is NOT, “Just talk it to death!” Don’t over-analyze.
  4. The Action Plan: Document specifically what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, measured how and rewarded how. Involve all those whose support you need, or who are affected by in the implementation process. Make sure they understand why this project is important to the business and to them. Determine from your team what additional information or resources they’ll need to be successful, and make sure that they get what they need.

Step #4: Effective implementation and follow up: Get it done! Businesses don’t die from a single shot to the head…they die, slowly but surely, from a thousand uncompleted tasks! Effective implementation is one of the biggest challenges in most businesses today. Here’s the simple solution: Every time you assign a task to someone, or a team, agree on a specific date by which it will be completed, or an update will be delivered. Document that commitment and always follow up. Then, hold people accountable, celebrate success, reward performance and deal firmly but fairly with non-performance.

So, there you have it…4 simple but powerful steps to fix what needs fixing in your business. Realistically, where are you in the 4-step process? First, are you aware of what needs fixing? Then, are you passionately and urgently committed to getting on with it? Is it the analysis, creativity, decision making or planning where you need more focus? Or, is it in the implementation that you need to improve? How will you use the insight of these 4 clear steps to fix what needs fixing in your business so that 2020 is the best year ever in your business or department?

For info about booking Donald to deliver his bottom-line insights on management, marketing and profitability at an Industry Conference or Corporate Event…or to discus our Business Coaching program, contact us at donald@donaldcooper.com or by phone at 1 (416) 252-3703 in Toronto, Canada.

About Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper, MBA, CSP, HoF: Donald speaks and coaches in over 40 industries throughout the world.  He delivers the ‘straight goods’ on how to sell more, manage smarter, grow your bottom line...and have a life!  To chat about ‘possibilities’ for your next business or Industry Association Conference, call me at 416-252-3703 in Toronto, or click here to connect to our ‘Enquiry Page’.  

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