I once took a job that was beneath my expertise and experience level because I thought I wanted to “just be an employee” for a while and let managers deal with and fix the problems. When I told my mother about this job and my reason for taking it she replied, “Yeah, ok, I know you and you will be running the place before you know it because you could take a job working with a circus and by the end of the first show you would have made an analysis and set into practice the most efficient way to shovel elephant poop off of the stage.” She was right, minus the elephant poop. It turns out that for me, an intrinsic aptitude for management and an interest in problem-solving always assert themselves. I like fixing things and my propensity for repairing broken processes are defining traits, recognized by anyone acquainted with me. Fixing things comes in all forms for me. It may be simple mechanical repair, an intricate organization-related issue, facilitating necessary connections, or providing support for employees in need. Essentially, any problem presented to me is met with my utmost effort towards a solution.
My professional experience spans various sized businesses across many disparate industries, and in each role, I found myself identifying and implementing improvements universally. The thing is, most businesses lack comprehensive growth management. They speculate about the resources required for expansion but fail to devise systematic controls over new inputs and products. For example, I spent many years working for a large company that I was attracted to simply because they were a large company, and presumably a well-oiled machine. They were well-oiled in so many ways, which is what helped them to become wildly successful. What I quickly learned though was that the company had multiple independent operating units, adhering to common policies, yet each operating unit ran differently due to being fundamentally different. And while the location I was working at was hitting every corporate-level desired target and checking all of the company-wide boxes, there was still room for improvement. For a description of this improvement, and to not reveal the company name, I am going to pretend that the department I worked in made doo-dads and the doo-dads’ monthly sales were $20,000 for this department at this location. The doo-dads’ prices varied between $1.99 and $9.99, with the average doo-dad selling at $3.99. That is roughly 5,000 doo-dads sold per month. You may be thinking: “What amazing sales! This is great news!” All in all, moving 5,000 units every month was an amazing quantity of this type of product to be sold, but what you don’t know is that this same department was overproducing this product, resulting in $14,000 worth of waste every month. When you take that not insignificant waste into account, the actual sales were only $6,000. Add in the other inputs involved with these doo-dads (materials and labor cost), and you realize $6,000 was not a bragging point. This oversight was mainly due to the team supervisor’s unfamiliarity with threat identification and mitigation strategies. While I possessed this expertise, my role did not include supervisory duties, and my observations were not well-received by the supervisor, illustrating a separate organizational challenge.
Within a few months, the supervisor realized they were in over their head and quit. When the supervisory position became available, I stepped in to mitigate this inefficiency. After meticulous analysis, I formulated and implemented processes reducing the monthly waste from $14,000 to $2,000, a move widely appreciated by the company. Additionally, my intervention expanded to other departments grappling with similar issues. These initiatives were particularly rewarding, affirming my affinity for diagnosing and rectifying operational inefficiencies. Long-serving staff, often possessing a myopic view, miss out on potential improvements, thus underscoring the importance of an outsider’s fresh perspective.
The same principles are applicable in smaller business environments. Many enterprises stand to gain from an objective operational analysis and implementation of suitable solutions. Their inability to self-correct leaves them stranded in persistent inefficiencies, creating an environment of frustration for all involved.
The bottom-line: every business grapples with latent problems that inhibit success. The key lies in identifying and resolving these issues. Sometimes, though, it is difficult to see the forest for the trees. An external perspective is all it takes to highlight areas of improvement and maximize efficiency. If your business seems to be stalling or you have hit a roadblock you cannot quite pinpoint, let’s chat. Are you ready to unlock the full potential of your business? Let’s talk.
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