Finding Your 'Fifty Percent'
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One of the most impactful books I’ve read is titled “The Economics of Trust” by John O. Whitney. The former business school professor and turnaround specialist made a career of taking charge of troubled companies and getting them back on track. I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with Professor Whitney on multiple occasions. Despite his accomplishments in business and in academia, he was gracious, humble, and generous with his time and his insights, patiently answering my many questions about his experiences. What struck me the most was his down-to-earth way of explaining why companies get into trouble and why they can’t seem to find their way back out.
He approached each assignment with the belief that he could eliminate 50% of the activities inside the business and that customers would never notice. Many of these activities, he noted, were created over time, and had become corporate habits, rarely challenged, or held to the scrutiny of productivity, contribution, or necessity. And most organizational policies and procedures were promulgated to correct a misstep by a team member; one offs which could have and should have been handled by a competent manager. Instead, a policy was created, designed to ensure that “this will never happen again.” Worse yet, many are prompted by and written in a way that communicates clearly the belief that employees cannot be trusted.
The process of identifying and eliminating these time wasters was comprehensive but not complex. Simple, direct, respectful and consistent communication was an essential element; one that became firmly established as a foundational value going forward.
If 50% sounds like a lot, you’re not alone. Consider this: Suppose you could eliminate thirty or even twenty percent of wasted time, energy, and effort inside your organization. What kind of impact would that have on through-put, effort, and efficiency? Imagine the energy and enthusiasm that might take hold as team members begin to spend more time questioning, in a productive way, the “why” behind the “what.”
For more information on ways to amp up operating efficiency in your organization, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., CAE, is the Founder and Principal of Alexander Joseph Associates, a privately held consultancy specializing in executive business advisory services with clients throughout the graphic communications industry.
Joe spent 30 years with NAPL, including 11 years as President and CEO. He is an adjunct professor at NYU teaching graduate courses in Executive Leadership; Financial Management and Analysis; Finance for Marketing Decisions; and Leadership: The C Suite Perspective. He may be reached at Joe@ajstrategy.com. Phone or text: (201) 394-8160.