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Last week, I wrote a premium article called “Silos Kill Business" about (surprise, surprise) how surveying and business silos undermine your success. What I didn’t discuss there, but that is so important, is that you need a clear understanding of your existing systems and procedures to begin to know what processes just aren’t working for you. Then, you need to develop and implement new and effective systems and procedures that yield results.
If you feel that you’re clicking on all cylinders and are enjoying enough abundance and success, then you need do nothing more. For the rest of us, the first step is to evaluate how you get things done now and then make improvements. I don’t care if your path to improvement is oriented to self, the department you manage or business-wide, the systems and procedures you use will either lead you to success or failure. Which end result do you desire?
Many years ago, before the land surveying bug bit me, I went to school for computer science/programming. In those days you learned how to craft individual software solutions because there weren’t available software packages for companies to buy. As such, there was a heavy emphasis on evaluating systems and procedures to implement customized software solutions. I really enjoyed that aspect of programming (it really was a robust, holistic approach), but had no idea how useful it would be in all aspects of my life and business. And, at the time, I had no idea how little these concepts and techniques are used by individuals and companies.
As soon as you can begin, I’d like you to begin a journey of self-improvement by mastering your systems and procedures. First step, I think, should be looking at yourself and time management. Once you master your time you’ll be way out ahead of your co-workers and competitors, while being able to focus on really important things, like your relationships and family.
Let’s say you constantly feel overwhelmed, behind schedule and aren’t getting all your tasks completed on time. Why is this? If you’re like most people, you’re not using your time wisely or effectively. Do you waste a lot of time or tackle the easier, less important tasks first. If so, this is a big mistake. Studies show highly successful and effective people often do (at least) these two things:
- Start their work day early.
- Tackle the most important tasks first thing.
I also used to take on the easy tasks first, while wasting valuable time early in the day. That was my system and procedure before. Now, however, I get an early start to the day - although I have slacked off a little this summer - and tackle the biggest, most important tasks right away. This is my new system and procedure to a productive day
Business systems and procedures often devolve into dysfunction over time, even if they start with strong and effective processes. As a consultant, I see this dysfunction resulting mostly from lack of leadership, resisting change and silos. Some companies require major, seismic changes and others just need a tune-up. Most businesses recognize their problems but lack the clarity and space (from the problems) to make objective observations and decisions.
With that said, and if you do not have the budget to hire an independent consultant like myself, there are steps you can take to improve your system and procedures. First, your company must develop backbone and embrace honesty. This goes for EVERYONE from top to bottom in your company. Truth be told, the problems you’re experiencing likely have more to do with the top or your organization than the bottom - with plenty of malaise in the middle.
Second, assume that there’s room for improvement with every step and process in your business. The first thing I like to do is have everyone write down their business processes, step by step, and what they think they should be, again, step by step. Outlining every step on paper usually is eye-opening for everyone.
The next step is both simple and complex at the same time. All you need to do is apply common sense and a strategic vision to craft better systems and procedures that increase efficiencies and deliver results! Simple, right? Okay, so it’s much simpler in principle than in practice, but you can do it. Just take it step by step, adding improvements as you go along, with an eye on achieving the desired result. Too many times, I see people and companies complaining about poor results and business resulting from doing the same thing, over and over again. By any definition, that’s insanity!
One example of a broken process I often see in land surveying companies and with AutoCAD Civil 3D (and LDT and other cad software, too) has to do with point descriptions and other basic field to finish standardizations. Nonconformance to a company-wide point description standard and a reluctance to adhere to a basic field to finish system is costing your company time and profit. So, while this might not even be the biggest problem for you, it’s a good problem to tackle that will yield immediate results.
The economy is really starting to heat up and I believe that business this fall will be robust. I want you to be in the best position to get more work, be more profitable and add a little of that elusive life-balance to your life. The only way you can possibly achieve all three of those rewards if you put in the work to understand and improve your personal and business systems and procedures.
Please contact me to work with us. My team and I can help you grow and improve your business.
Thank you, work smart and be brilliant!
Eric D. Colburn, PLS - Land Surveying & Civil 3D Consultant