All organizations share a common goal: to improve efficiency. When your company is more efficient, it delivers products faster, provides better customer service, and gives a better return on investment.
But too many companies are convinced that boosting efficiency will take some paradigm shift, assuming that without a significant change, there won't be any marked improvement. The fact is, you don't need some sweeping change, a major culture shift, or anything hugely disruptive to become more efficient. A simple strategy change can make all the difference.
Focusing on the Positive is not the Answer Here
Focusing on the positive is a great strategy, especially if you're just starting out with a new business venture. When you focus on the positive, you can replicate what's working. It is hardly every a bad idea to do more of what is working.
However, you should not ignore the negatives. Little spats, office gossip, the recycling program? These are the trivial problems that you know need attention, but you are busy focusing on "big picture." By ignoring these problems, you are telling your team that cultural issues and operational inefficiency are acceptable. "Little" problems are actually signs of bigger issues. What is confusing here is that bigger issues are intangible. They are not staring you in the face. They are not immediate. Big issues in organizations are actually the accumulation of "little" problems that add up to big issues.
These major issues could be cultural or operational. These "little" problems can be things that seem redundant or are small time wasters. For example, how many steps does it take you to process an invoice? Is it three or ten? Maybe twenty? Does it go from a scanned copy to printing for approval and back to the scanner? Things like paperwork bottlenecks may seem trivial, but they are evidence that the organization may not have a mindset towards improvement. That is a big problem in today's competitive and rapidly changing business environment.
Non-profits need to be working towards efficiency as well. Non-profits are often competing fiercely for donors and resources. Often their attitude is to find the cheapest solutions instead of the most efficient or highest value solution. The problem with the "cheap" strategy is that it hides the true cost of operations. When you are not buying efficiency, you are guaranteed to be wasting your resources somewhere else.
Don't fret. The effect of this problem is also the key to turning it around. Just as little problems build into big ones, "little" solutions turn into big positive changes.
Little solutions can build a positive change culture. Take the example of invoices again. Once your team sees that their invoice processing went from twenty steps to twelve, they will feel that positive effect and believe that the leadership team cares about improving their environment and the operational efficiency of the company. When they believe that simple, positive, incremental change is possible, they will begin to own that culture. The leadership won't need buy-in. The suggestions will spring from all levels of your organization. This effect is even easier to see in small organizations.
The way to become extraordinary is by doing the ordinary. That sounds cheesy, but it is true. Just taking care of the little issues that are close to your customers and your team will help to build a positive change culture and will set you apart in your industry.