6 Business Fables Facilitating Frustration and Failure
Over the past 20 years, I have heard about all the business fables that facilitate small business failure. These failures manifest first as daily frustrations, caused by poor business systems, due to lack of knowledge.
Sadly, business frustrations tend to keep multiplying until the company’s owner experiences “burn-out.” This results in critical business functions not being completed. Therefore, failure is imminent.
For this reason, we do battle against FABLES spread by those so-called “business professionals” who look for quick excuses, rather than facing the challenge of eliminating chaotic disorganization.
6 Business Fables Repeated by Business Owners:
- You need good people, not good systems
- Chaos is “normal” in business
- Mistakes happen, because we’re only human
- I can’t get my people to use a system when I put one in
- More business will solve all of our problems
- We don’t have time to do checklists
Folks, these business fables are pure management fiction - fables uttered by those who have not spent the necessary time to check out their validity. Frankly, some of these silly statements are from those too stubborn and/or apathetic to care about real value found in good business process management.
How do I know? I’ve personally debunked each of these six business fables and have proved by measuring, through time and cost analysis, their credibility. As a result, I can say emphatically, these six statements are simply business MYTHS! In other words, don’t believe them.
Let’s address each of the 6 business fables above, and shed some light on such fairytales that have caused dysfunction throughout the business world. To be sure, believing these fables is the difference between REAL success and failure.
No. 1 – “You need good people, NOT good systems”
Surely you need “good” people in business; those who can think on their feet and need little supervision. But, in many service businesses, “A-list” people are hard to find.
On a scale of 1 to 10, for people/employees, we’ve proved that a person regarded as a “3” can become an “8 or 9,” using a well-written procedure and/or control checklist. We’ve proven that giving people a SYSTEM brings everyone up to a higher level of service!
In my book, System Busters: How to Stop Them In Your Business, I describe in detail a person my team had mistakenly regarded as a “10,” making most of the stupid mistakes in production; versus a person we had regarded as a “5,” making the least mistakes.
You probably already know that people don’t like to be managed. So, give them a SYSTEM they can manage themselves, and they’ll become star employees; maybe even a “10.”
No. 2 – “Chaos is Normal in Business”
In my fifth year of owning a printing business, I called my brother Billy who also owned a commercial printing company. I asked him if he experienced the same frustrating chaos I was experiencing. Billy laughed and said, “Philip don’t you remember when you worked at Kennedy Print Shop, when you were in high school; how you laughed telling me about all the mistakes and chaos that was happening?” I remembered that.
Billy commented, “Philip, don’t you KNOW? Chaos in business is normal!”
Now that the shoe was on the other foot and was the owner of all the chaos, I wasn’t laughing anymore. In fact, I was thinking of getting out of the printing business, at that time.
Well, folks, I decided instead to FIX the chaos. I implemented quality control checklists to start my journey out of disorder and saw an immediate turnaround. We went from making 7-10% errors, down to 1-2%. That was a huge turnaround, and in only a matter of weeks!
No. 3 – “Mistakes happen, I’m Only Human”
You will hear that from employees when you find them making stupid mistakes by not focusing on their job. To be fair, the statement is true. But, would we except that excuse from an airline pilot who causes a crash, because he forgets to put the planes’ wheels down upon landing? Of course not! All pilots are trained using control checklists. WHY? Because, checklists never forget!
Trust me, control checklists work in ANY business!
No. 4 – “I Can’t Get My People to Use a System”
Wow, sad to hear that! So, who’s the boss? Who’s pays the employees for their labor? Apparently, these owners can’t get employees to do anything, even their regular work.
Something a business owner needs to decide before starting a business is, if they have the guts to look any employee in the eye and tell them what’s expected of them for the pay they’ll receive. And, if the employee fails to do what’s expected, will the owner have the courage to insist, or show the employee the door? An employee can then decide to stay or go. We do live in a free country. But, a business owner can’t be a wimpy boss!
No. 5 – “More Business Will Solve All Our Problems”
There’s a reason why the subject of “sales growth” is the most popular in business books, seminars, blogs, programs, software, podcasts; with consultants, coaches, etc.
All businesses want to grow; to scale up. It’s the dream! Bigger and bigger!
However, after interacting with many business coaches and consultants over the years, most agree that the problem with most businesses is NOT growth. The problem is, they can’t take care of the business they have, without mistakes and miscommunications causing waste. For this reason, as new customers are coming in the front door, many are leaving out the back door. The result is little net gain.
How do I know? When we began implementing control systems to guarantee quality and service, our company’s sustained sales growth was the norm.
No. 6 – “We Don’t Have Time to Do Checklists”
That’s fair to say, IF you’re doing a job that involves only a few steps. However, if you are performing a service, or manufacturing a product that has many steps, a control checklist is a MUST! These checklists will pay for themselves many times over. In addition, as employees utilize the step-by-step prompts on the service & quality control checklist, these prompts become ingrained in their brain.
You’ve heard the old adage, “We never have time to do a job right, but we always have time to do it again.” Really?
Did I mention? Great systems work!
Related story: MIS Software: Failure to Launch
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.