When you started your business, what was your motivation? What do you aspire to deliver to your customers – your value? What gets in the way of using all of your resources to deliver that value?
Many activities in our business consume time, energy, and resources, yet are they truly adding value? The business grows so quickly that the processes and methods we use to deliver customer value just happen. From a Lean perspective, to be value added, an activity needs to meet three criteria:
- It transforms
- It is done correctly the first time
- The customer is willing to pay for it
Yet how many activities meet all of these criteria? Activities might be necessary, but still fail to meet all three. Slowing down to evaluate periodically how you, as a business owner, are using your resources to deliver value to your customer is a vital step to longevity and sustainability. Minimizing non-value-added activities frees up resources to focus on your customer.
When evaluating processes, look for barriers to flow: flow of information, flow of product or services, flow of people. Look for variation. Look for overburdening or stressing of your people, processes, or systems. Look for defects, overproduction, waiting, transportation (moving things), inventory (too much or too little), motion (people movement), or excess processing. Ask your people how they would improve their jobs. Engaging people in improvement is one of the most untapped opportunities in business.
You are in business to make money through delivering outstanding value to your customer. They define what they value. They vote with their wallets and feet. Value matters.
In this ever-changing marketplace, if you do not constantly improve to meet their needs, you may find your business is no longer viable. Improvement matters. What can you improve today?
Natalie J. Sayer is with i-emerge.com