Are Fires of Chaos Consuming Your Business?
How many times have you heard an owner or manager say, “My title should be head fireman. I’m constantly putting out fires.” I sometimes wonder if these “firemen” have ever considered finding the source of those “fires”—the root cause!
I’ve come to understand you can’t have a fire if you don’t have a source. It makes sense that, if an owner or manager would take time to eradicate the source, the fires would be extinguished permanently.
Imagine...when you eliminate every source of every fire in your business, you could take off your fireman’s hat, put on your marketing hat, and really grow your business! After all, isn’t growing your business what you desire to do? Wouldn’t it be nice to take time away from your business without worrying that the whole place might go up in flames?
If you want to retire your Fireman’s hat, there is a way to extinguish those flames forever
Where do you start eliminating the source of your fires?
Start by making a commitment—no matter how small the fire, you are not only going to put the fire out, but also investigate and find the root cause. Next step: with the help of your team, put in place a SYSTEM that will eliminate the source of that fire forever.
DO NOT buy into the lie that, “Chaos is normal in business.” It is NOT normal!
OK, I can hear you thinking, “What kind of SYSTEM will end my fire fights?” The SYSTEM I am talking about is actually a network of systems that will work in concert to stop fires before they start—i.e., control checklists, procedures, policies, etc.
I have seen simple Quality Control Checklists save companies thousands of dollars a year. The company where I first observed these flame-ending systems working was my own. Since then, I have heard numerous testimonials of success using the systems, from our employees, our clients and other companies all over the world.
TRUE STORY about the first time our company used a Quality Control Checklist: We wanted to stop the errors (fires) in our pressroom, as we were burning up a lot of money. Not to mention causing other small fires to break out all over our company. So, we developed a Quality Control Checklist for ensuring the quality and accuracy of a job before printing it.
On Day #1, I walked into the pressroom with the checklist and gathered everyone in production around a table for a demonstration of the correct use of a checklist. I asked a press operator to set up a letterhead job and get it ready for approval. After he made ready his press and printed the first letterhead sheet, he brought it to me to be approved.
I took the new checklist, along with the Job Ticket containing the specifications for printing the letterhead, and started reviewing the checklist one item/prompt at a time.
Prompt #1: INK COLOR CORRECT
I compared the color of ink on the letterhead with the ink that was specified on the Job Ticket. It was correct. I made a check in the box by the prompt.
Prompt #2: PAPER TYPE CORRECT
I compared the paper type of the letterhead with the paper type specified on the Job Ticket and it also was correct. So I put a check by it.
Prompt #3: PAPER COLOR CORRECT
The Job Ticket specification was for a gray color paper. So I looked at the color of stock we were about to print—it was cream colored. We had the WRONG color paper, and we were about to print 10,000 letterheads—incorrectly. You should have seen the expression on everyone’s face.
Yes, the very first time we used a checklist it saved a job from having to be reprinted, and us having a very unhappy customer—not to mention the extra expense. I didn’t have to convince anybody that using a checklist saved time and money. I believe that was providential, as we started out with our first system to stop fires at their source. It worked!
As a matter of fact, the person operating the press that day became one of our strongest supporters of the checklist system. His rework, due to errors, almost went to zero by using this Quality Control Checklist.
Thousands of dollars and hours have been saved using control checklists throughout our companies. They can make the difference between success and failure, especially in poor economic times.
Did I mention—Great systems work?
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.