All posts tagged: process improvement

The Secret to Growing Your Book of Business

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Add more than you subtract. Whether you are offering more value to your customers, making more phone calls, or even having more quality business meetings, you are well on your way to growing your business.

Scott WintripThe Secret to Growing Your Book of Business
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Avoid Driving Off the Road – How to Engage Rumble Strips for Individual and Team Improvement

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Rumble strips alert you that an adjustment needs to be made. Use this concept in your day to day activities, and you can assure that you will never be too far behind where you need to be.

Scott WintripAvoid Driving Off the Road – How to Engage Rumble Strips for Individual and Team Improvement
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The Pizza and French Fry Test

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A few days before arriving here in Copper Mountain, Colorado for our Spring Break ski trip, I asked my sixteen year old son if he thought he still remembered all of his skills. “It’s been five years Ben,” I said. “How do you think you’ll do?”

“Are you kidding,” he said. “All I gotta do is pizza and french fries.”

For those who don’t know what Ben was referring to, he was talking about how his ski instructor taught him when he was eight. Pizza referred to plow, used to slow or stop. All he had to do was position his skies like a slice of pizza. French fries meant he was to have parallel skies for navigating down the slopes. His instructor just had to yell either “pizza” or “french fries” and he would quickly respond.

Great methodologies, including teaching methods, are not only useful in the moment, they last the test of time. In our world of too much to do, know, and remember, a pragmatic approach to key tactics is a must.

Are your company’s processes this memorable, sustainable, and easy to use? For example, can the sales team tell you how to close a deal in three simple steps? Do they all describe it in exactly the same way? How about the service team? What is the four-step process for resolving a customer complaint? Do they know, use, and easily share it with new hires?

Memorable, sustainable, and easy to use, that’s the Pizza and French Fry Test. Do your processes pass the test?

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Scott WintripThe Pizza and French Fry Test
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Avoiding Mental Asphyxia

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Imagine trying to survive in a room filling with carbon monoxide. Without a detector to warn of the growing danger, this colorless and odorless gas goes undetected. Starved of oxygen, uncertainly and confusion kick in as discernment diminishes and decisions become more difficult.

It takes no imagination to see the results of the mental version of asphyxia as leaders in Washington choke on ideology and politics as usual. Breathing their own cerebral and verbal exhaust, the Executive and Legislative branches keep saying they want something different while surrounding themselves with the same stagnant ways of governing. Oh, what a breath of fresh air could do for the halls of Congress and the West Wing.

Mental asphyxia is not limited to government as people in companies across the globe risk breathing their own exhaust as well. A common example is employing the same business practices year after year when they are not improving results. Innovation is suffocated right out of the organization as this practice is rationalized with statements like, “We’ve always done it this way,” and “It’s always worked in the past.”

Service methods must evolve to outpace and outdo your competitors. Not everything that worked when selling last year will work tomorrow. How employees were trained last time people were hired is not always prudent and effective today. Even best practices that get good results need fine-tuning to achieve even better results.

Nicholas, a senior leader at a UK based staffing firm, told me in a recent conversation that his firm had suffered from mental asphyxia for years. “When I listened to your podcast, If It’s Not Broke, Break It, I liked the idea and thought it would only help take what we do well and make it better. Much to my surprise, I discovered that some of our beloved methods were not as effective as we thought. In particular, our hiring and training processes had not evolved with the times. We’d become way too attached to our supposed best practices and weren’t paying attention to the reality that they weren’t improving our results. ‘Breaking them’ was like a breath of fresh air for the entire organization.”

In addition to the ideas in the aforementioned podcast, process improvement starts with an acknowledgement of inherent impartiality. Simply put, people are biased about their own ideas. They fall in love with them, even when the results aren’t as good as they’d like them to be. To break out of this, ask yourself:

  1. Am I happy with our results?
  2. If not, how long have we been trying to achieve those results in the same or similar ways?
  3. What’s the likelihood that we’ll reach our goals if we continue to go at it like that?

Just as Nicholas’ open-minded appraisal demonstrated the problem with how attached he was to the status quo, many people discover that their attachment to current methodology is the problem, not the solution. Breaking out of that is the difference between staying stuck and achieving sustainably better results.

Now, if we could just get leaders in Washington and across the globe to engage in this type of rigorous honesty and self reflection. What a breath of fresh air that would be!

Scott WintripAvoiding Mental Asphyxia
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