Learn how to eliminate waste and focus on value to improve your effectiveness.
For businesses, waste is anything that doesn’t deliver value to your customers. And value is any thing or any process that your customers will pay for. For individuals, waste could be described as anything that distract you or cause you stress (too much or not enough of something) and value could be the tasks and activities that will enable you to do a great job.
This idea works equally well at an individual level, a team level and at a business level. And it’s completely focused on creating value for your customers.
We often only look for better ways of working when something either goes really wrong or really well. We either want to avoid ever doing something again or we want to replicate our success. This is a reactive approach to improvement and means you only improve when you have been triggered to do so.
By proactively thinking about how you do things, you can continuously improve your performance. Using this simple approach when you have something really important to deliver can easily more than double your productivity and success.
Plan > Do > Monitor > Review
- Plan: Plan what you will do
- Do: Implement your plan
- Monitor: Track your actual behaviour
- Review: Identify what went well and what needs to improve
Imagine you have a report to write, or an important piece of research. You have a fairly clear week ahead of you with only a small number of meetings that will take up 5 hours. Assuming you have a 35 hour working week, you have 30 hours for completing your report (this is your value adding time). So you start with your plan. You decide you want to spend 4 hours drafting the outline report, 15 hours writing the main content, 10 hours refining it and 1 hour sharing it.
Step 2 is to implement your plan, in our example this is writing your report by following your plan.
Step 3 is to track what you do. Make a note of the time you’re following your plan, and all the other things that happen (extra meetings, unexpected issues, social media!, etc. I.e. WASTE!).
Step 4: What worked and what didn’t? How much time have you spent following your plan (value) and how much time were you doing other things (waste)? Use this information to adjust and improve your plan for the coming week. For example, will you block out more time in your calendar for writing your report or turn your phone off? What can you do differently next week to improve your performance and to provide more value to your customers?
This is a very simple approach that can be used for everything from making ourselves more effective to making a department or even a company more effective. This great video from Niklas Modig explains how he significantly improved his report writing technique and this case study describes how we used this approach with Africa Exclusive to identify ways to significantly speed up their customer order to invoice process.
How much time will you save?