A Perfect Time to Improve

For many people, September signifies the return to school and for some the end of summer. It is a time that businesses refocus on what needs to be done. With staff re-charged fresh from holidays they sharpen their pencils to get back at it. This is a great time to use that focus to get improvement initiatives going.

To be able to do this you need to blend an even amount of reporting and communication to seek out what is valuable to your organization.  

Be careful though, like an over eager parent in the stationary store we tend to go overboard in these back to school improvements and either gather too many metrics without understanding what the information represents OR we have fully understood the issues facing the business and don’t truly understand why these are an issue. In some cases both could even be true.

Understanding the Business Outcomes

Having a clear understanding of business outcomes is important. The trouble is that when we don’t fully understand our business we enter into a seemingly never ending loop of assumption and treat all things with equal amounts of importance. On the surface this may appear to work for a while until we spend time working on one issue when we should have worked on another which ends up impacting the business negatively. The key to understanding your business starts and continues as a result of communication and relationship building with them.

Gathering Metrics

The key is to start small. When we think in terms of what to report on it should relate to what the business requires to achieve its business outcomes. Once we know what the business needs all reporting should reflect making strides to reaching the objectives. All other data doesn’t really apply after that point. Once you have the few key performance indicators that roll up to your business objective you can use these to build an improvement strategy on those few items. From there you can report on those, review and iteratively make further improvements.

You might be starting this in September but this should be a regular cycle for those who truly consider themselves business partners. To start with consider quarterly cycles to be able to collect information make some small iterative improvements and then communicate on what you achieve with the business.

September is a great time to get your improvements in hand but you don’t need to wait for a specific date to get the improvement wheel moving. Start today, even the slightest improvements is something that can build to larger gains.

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