In a place where yams were not common, a husband bought a huge healthy yam and took it home for his wife to cook. To his astonishment, she took the yam and cut of a quarter of it from each end and threw them in the bin and prepared the remaining half.
"Why did you do that?” He asked, “That’s what my mum did when cooking yams” she replied. Curious, he called his mother-in-law to seek for an answer. “That’s what my mum did when cooking yams” was her response. Determined to get to the root of it, he called his grandma-in-law and asked her why they cut off the quarter ends of the yam and throw it away. She told him the yams were too big for her cooking pots and so she would cut off to leave what could fit in the pot. Plus they had plenty of yams in the garden which they could take whenever they needed more!
I remember hearing this story and I thought how true! Many a times we do not seek to know the logic behind something and we just follow blindly.
Back to business, are the procedures and processes in your business all necessary? Are you trapped in this-is-how-we-have-always-done -it mentality?
I have seen some business running both a manual accounting system and a computerized one because they are unwilling to let go of the manual system. The manual system could have worked perfectly
1) when there were no computers
2) the business was starting out and had only a handful of transactions
3) the business was too small to afford a more efficient system
What if now the business has grown and the number of transactions are many per day and there are labour saving devices like accounting soft wares which are affordable, would you still say no to change?
I was reading by an article by David Parmenter on One aspect that sets Toyota apart from nearly all organisations is its focus on continuous improvement (kaizen). In a marvelous book about the car manufacturer, The Toyota Way, author Jeffery Liker reports that every Toyota employee is expected to reflect each day on ‘What could I do better tomorrow?’ and come up with at least one innovation per month, no matter how small. The Toyota average, internationally, is 10 innovations per employee per year.
‘Abandonment’ needs to be embraced alongside innovation, as you need to clear the way and free up time for innovations to have a chance to succeed. Abandonment means letting go of processes and practices that are not adding value.
Are you too busy to improve?
Image credit: Hakan Forss