Bottlenecks and systems

Many small business owners believe that problems and frustrations are simply a part of owning a small business. But it doesn’t have to be that way. These bottlenecks–situations that create undesired results–can be eliminated, or greatly reduced, if we have a process for identifying and remedying them.

Problems and frustrations do not go away on their own. They require effort. And the key is to have a process–a method for systematically identifying and resolving these stresses.

1. Identify the bottleneck—Name the problem, frustration, or undesired result.

2. Identify the cause—This often requires probing. Don’t settle for the first answer that pops into your mind. The real cause may not be obvious.

3. Identify the actions that will eliminate or prevent the bottleneck—What actions will lead to the desired results? This will likely require change.

4. Write a detailed list of the steps involved—Make a step-by-step list of all of the actions involved in achieving the desired results.

5. Train and implement those steps—Train the appropriate employees in the procedure.

As an example, let us say that you own a service company. Your employees perform their work in homes and offices, and you frequently receive complaints that your employees are tracking dirt and debris into the customer’s facility. Rather than accept these complaints as inevitable, you can identify the cause and possible solutions, such as removing their shoes, placing a mat at the entrance to clean their shoes, or wear disposable booties.

This is a simple example, and certainly the solution to many bottlenecks is more complex. But if we identify the actions that will lead to desired results and make those actions a part of our company’s operating procedures, we can eliminate most bottlenecks. Different actions lead to different results.

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