I’m writing this two days before the start of the big dance. The men’s NCAA basketball tourney; the Road to Indianapolis. The NCAA is headquartered here in Indy and I was privileged to attend a presentation and meet members of their marketing team earlier in the month. They were seeking input. They wanted to improve.

There are many Paths to a Championship

The 64 teams seeking the Final Four in Indy have many and varied game plans. Some depend on three point production, others on a stifling defense, and still others on controlling the ball and limiting turnovers. Regardless the plan, I know this for certain, they will all work on basics—shooting, passing, dribbling. And they all will look for areas to improve. That’s a constant.

What’s Holding you Back?

Whatever your business plan, there are basics we all should concentrate on; organizational shooting, dribbling, and passing. However, too often, we don’t want to invest the time or funds. Let me explain. A department manager came to me seeking advice about establishing teamwork between his department and another. He felt they didn’t always work well together. I offered to:

  • Complete individual improvement surveys with his team (15-20 minutes each)
  • Conduct a weekly meeting with his team on silo busting, establishing cross-training and interaction with the other department. (30 minutes per week)

The manager told me they didn’t have time. If your business isn’t improving it’s because you’re not working at improvements. I didn’t say you weren’t working hard, you may be working your tail off to the point you don’t believe you have time to invest in improvement. Businesses don’t magically get better. They improve because someone championed the improvement. Someone strove to make it better. Someone took the time to improve.

What should you Work on?

While it’s always good to have a business plan, marketing outline, and a financial path—improvement begins with the basics—shooting, dribbling, and passing; in business that’s, training, maintenance, and flow.

Training – Train procedures, systems, and policies, but don’t stop there. Offer leadership training and team building exercises. Continuous improvement begins with continuous training.

Maintenance – Equipment should be maintained at the highest levels on a continuous schedule. Safety and efficiency should always be the priority. Losing the production of shutting down a machine for half a day’s maintenance almost always pays for itself.

Flow – Eliminating shift disruption through procedural communication, and utilizing personal where and when they’re most needed.

Continuous Improvement is an Investment

Most would agree that investing time and money in training, equipment, and flow is the surest way to improvement. However, when it comes time to turn off a machine for a tune-up, take your team off task for a meeting, or send personnel from your department to help another…too often, it’s a another story. Let me end with this thought. None of us have got better at anything without working at it, without investing the time and energy needed. Why would we expect our businesses to be any different?