Business improvement with purpose, clarity and speed: Part One

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Business improvement specialist Gert Theron reveals the power of collaboration.

I believe that not everyone will survive and thrive in these rapidly changing times. The question is, do you want to be among the small group that defies the odds?”

In this series, I will provide seven steps that will help you improve your business in a measurable and sustainable way. Each step builds on the preceding ones, and will give you a rock solid framework to make things better.

There are three pillars required to defy the odds:

1. See things as they are:
There are many ways to approach this, but classifying your people as enablers or producers will open your eyes to a whole new perspective. Enablers support your core operation, the core function that enables you to sell your product or render your service.

The strategy is simple: the enablers strengthen the hands of the producers. Michael Schumacher, the producer, drives the car and wins the race, but he has a whole team behind him that makes it possible – the enablers. One is incomplete without the other; enablers and producers need each other.

The key enablers in my view are finance, HR and IT. Finance is not core, but there is no aspect of business that does not have a financial implication. It is all about the money: finance is the glue that keeps things together. No profit, no business.

While HR is not core, without people you don’t have a business. Strong HR is a strategic asset. People are the most critical resource of any business. IT is also not core, but in our rapidly changing world, it is quickly becoming a strategic asset – almost on par with people. Technology helps people to do things quicker, better and more efficiently.

2. Be brutally honest
Often, but not always, the clear picture is not pretty. You can choose to turn your head and look away, but when you look back, ugly will still be ugly.

Or, you can choose to look reality in the eye, forget about what was, and work towards what can be. This is the difficult way, and there are only a few that find it. This is also a rewarding way.

3. Count the cost
Business is about adding value, about meeting needs. If you cannot add value at a fair profit margin you don’t have a business. It is important that everybody understands this. Nothing less than a firm commitment by everyone on the team will be absolutely necessary if you want to succeed in your endeavour to make things better.

Looking ahead, significant improvement requires mature and determined leadership on every level of the organisation, but that will be discussed in Part 2.

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