I get it.
You're a small company.
But you still have challenges. Maybe your results are stagnant or going in the wrong direction. You know you need fresh perspective, but you can't afford to hire a consultant.
Don't sit and worry that your competition is getting a jump on you.
Get new eyes from inside your business. Or as my friend Amanda says, "See life from a different lane."
Here are 4 ways you can change perspective and get new insight without having to hire a consultant.
1. LISTEN to what's being measured.
Do you REALLY know what your organization is delivering? Listen closely to what they're measuring, that will tell you their true goal. Be prepared: their goal may not be the your goal.
I worked in a plant where we proudly talked about our equipment efficiency. We talked about it so much the plant manager took a closer look. She found out that teams would skip making smaller batches of technically challenging product in order to keep efficiency up.
The teams were so focused on equipment efficiency that they produced more inventory of the product we didn't need, and not enough of what was needed. Costs went up and product available for shipments went down. Big problem.
Whatever you talk about most IS your focus. Whatever you're focused on becomes your goal.
2. SOLVE PROBLEMS - Don't manage solutions.
When times are challenging and problems are tough, managing solutions often times becomes more important than solving problems.
A few years ago my plants weren't producing enough cases and we were cutting orders. Customers and sales were screaming for product. After several months, our full attention swung to micro-managing one plant's plans and output. My entire focus became:
"Did the plant follow the plan."
I finally realized I was managing a solution, but not solving the business problem. Instead I refocused on the business objective and asked,
"What will it take to fill customers' orders?"
Once we focused on filling customer orders, we found multiple options to fulfill orders without overly stressing the plant's recovery. We then stabilized the business and returned to normal quickly.
If you have a problem that is stuck, take step back and evaluate what you're working on. Sometimes there's a BIG difference between solving the business problem and managing a solution.
3. TRADE places with your direct reports.
When in a turnaround situation, I'm an advocate of trading places with members of my teams. I've even rotated on shifts as a team leader to get the right perspective. My goal is to be in the roles long enough to see a cycle of results which can be up to 4-5 weeks.
I've learned that trading places was an invaluable way to see disconnects first hand. I often found my original assumptions were wrong, or even making matters worse, not better.
Do you want new perspective? It's right in front in of you. Sometimes the best way to get perspective is to experience the problem from a different vantage point.
About a third of the way into my career, I transferred to a beverage plant where they were starting up new-to-the-world technology. The start up had been delayed once already and the engineers were talking about a second delay and potentially scrapping the design.
They saw a technical problem.
I saw paper industry technology in a beverage plant. So I sent my operating team to a paper plant for one week to understand operational strategies.
As soon as my team saw the paper technology, they knew exactly what they needed to do to fix the issues. They developed new operational plans and then started up the line ahead of the new schedule. The line is still in operation today, nearly 15 years later.
Sometimes the answer is available, you just have to look around.
Don't hire a consultant...yet
You can get an outside look from the inside.
Try these tips first. You may be surprised at how much you can change and grow with just a simple twist of perspective.
Business can look at lot different, and better, from another lane.
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Photo/Old Timey Viewfinder goes to the beach by Matt Coats, on Flickr