Process Improvement

Muddy Footprints | Extraordinary Business

I have two big labs that love to play out in our backyard, which, thanks to them, has more mud then grass.  When they come in the house, of course, their big paws are usually full of mud, so we (less than) gleefully wipe their paws each time when they come in so that they don’t get mud all over our light-colored carpet.

If you don’t know, mud on the carpet can be grounds for divorce, dismemberment or even death.  Therefore, mud on the carpet is a bad thing.

In the business world, we often meet many, many people.  People most often do business with other people.  Buying decisions often involve some level of emotion, which could mean that if someone doesn’t like you, they will probably not do business with you.  If they like you, they’ll probably make you first choice, and might refer you to others who might need your assistance.

No brainer there.

When you don’t treat people with the respect they

are do, i.e., treat people the way you would want to be treated, you are leaving muddy footprints on their lives.  Just the same, if your employees, partners and processes leave soiled carpets all over the place, the effect is the same as your personal lack of respect toward those people.

While you may have opportunity and the gifts of cleaning up the messes, think about the fact that these faux pas are costing you money – directly or indirectly, meaning that a) people won’t do business with you, which affects your direct revenues, and b) the time you spend cleaning up the messes means that you cannot service another client or otherwise grow the business – again, missing out on revenues.

The remedy, of course, is to make sure that your paws, and those of every member of your business’s, are clean.  While there is an upfront cost to developing, training and monitoring your business’s methods of doing business, the payoffs could be astronomical.

Don’t settle for being ordinary.  The results will be ordinary.  Be extraordinary.  Run an extraordinary business.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Relationships,Extraordinary Business,Extraordinary Leadership,Employees,Customers,Messes,Business,Service,Revenue

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Muddy Footprints | Extraordinary Business

I have two big labs that love to play out in our backyard, which, thanks to them, has more mud then grass.  When they come in the house, of course, their big paws are usually full of mud, so we (less than) gleefully wipe their paws each time when they come in so that they don’t get mud all over our light-colored carpet.

If you don’t know, mud on the carpet can be grounds for divorce, dismemberment or even death.  Therefore, mud on the carpet is a bad thing.

In the business world, we often meet many, many people.  People most often do business with other people.  Buying decisions often involve some level of emotion, which could mean that if someone doesn’t like you, they will probably not do business with you.  If they like you, they’ll probably make you first choice, and might refer you to others who might need your assistance.

No brainer there.

When you don’t treat people with the respect they

are do, i.e., treat people the way you would want to be treated, you are leaving muddy footprints on their lives.  Just the same, if your employees, partners and processes leave soiled carpets all over the place, the effect is the same as your personal lack of respect toward those people.

While you may have opportunity and the gifts of cleaning up the messes, think about the fact that these faux pas are costing you money – directly or indirectly, meaning that a) people won’t do business with you, which affects your direct revenues, and b) the time you spend cleaning up the messes means that you cannot service another client or otherwise grow the business – again, missing out on revenues.

The remedy, of course, is to make sure that your paws, and those of every member of your business’s, are clean.  While there is an upfront cost to developing, training and monitoring your business’s methods of doing business, the payoffs could be astronomical.

Don’t settle for being ordinary.  The results will be ordinary.  Be extraordinary.  Run an extraordinary business.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Relationships,Extraordinary Business,Extraordinary Leadership,Employees,Customers,Messes,Business,Service,Revenue

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Business Strategy: Innovation Process | Extraordinary Leadership

Part of every business’s strategy should be innovation, or the creation, management, evaluation and implementation of ideas.  As a business leader, consider how many ideas you have and how many more ideas you are presented with over the course of a week.  Then consider, how many you don’t get, meaning those that your stakeholders might have, but don’t give you for whatever reason.

The reason you would want to create a process for ideas and innovation is that without effort, ideas are just ideas.  Even if you consider yourself an innovative company, not having a process makes the innovation process very inefficient.
Something that might have normally taken a few weeks or a few months to develop might end up taking a few years.

The process is relatively easy.  Like any process, you would want to start with the vision, and work backwards.  Consider inclusion of the following as part of your evaluation and process development:

  • What is the idea?
  • Who will manage the idea?
  • Who will manage the process?
  • Does it fit into company beliefs?
  • Is it feasible?
  • How does it fit into our current offerings or the way we do things?
  • What are the risks?
  • What resources will be required?
  • When would we like to have it done?
  • How will we know if we have been successful?
  • What will the outcomes be?

Getting the process down on paper will help the process move along, and help your business to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the marketplace.  As with any process, realize that the process should be reviewed, periodically, to see where it can be improved.  Continuous improvement is a mark of an extraordinary business.

Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Technorati Tags: Strategy,Innovation,Ideas,Extraordinary business
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Business Strategy: Innovation Process | Extraordinary Leadership

Part of every business’s strategy should be innovation, or the creation, management, evaluation and implementation of ideas.  As a business leader, consider how many ideas you have and how many more ideas you are presented with over the course of a week.  Then consider, how many you don’t get, meaning those that your stakeholders might have, but don’t give you for whatever reason.
The reason you would want to create a process for ideas and innovation is that without effort, ideas are just ideas.  Even if you consider yourself an innovative company, not having a process makes the innovation process very inefficient.
Something that might have normally taken a few weeks or a few months to develop might end up taking a few years.
The process is relatively easy.  Like any process, you would want to start with the vision, and work backwards.  Consider inclusion of the following as part of your evaluation and process development:

  • What is the idea?
  • Who will manage the idea?
  • Who will manage the process?
  • Does it fit into company beliefs?
  • Is it feasible?
  • How does it fit into our current offerings or the way we do things?
  • What are the risks?
  • What resources will be required?
  • When would we like to have it done?
  • How will we know if we have been successful?
  • What will the outcomes be?

Getting the process down on paper will help the process move along, and help your business to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the marketplace.  As with any process, realize that the process should be reviewed, periodically, to see where it can be improved.  Continuous improvement is a mark of an extraordinary business.
Be extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Technorati Tags: Strategy,Innovation,Ideas,Extraordinary business
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Planning for Chaos

I was working on a proposal this afternoon when the phone rang.  It was my bookkeeper telling me that we needed to set up a meeting with one of our clients.  In the midst of that call, another client called to ask if I’d had time to review her book.  Finally, my wife called to let me know she was getting off work and was headed home.  Being the love of my life, I chit-chatted with her for a little while as she made her way onto the highway.

Each of these tasks took me away from the task that I had at hand for the afternoon: to complete the proposal, review it three times and send it out to the appropriate parties.  With the interruptions I’d had throughout the afternoon, it took me twice as long to complete the proposal, and some of the work I’d hoped to get done didn’t get done when I wanted it to.

Now…what will that look like at the end of the year?  It is kind of like watching a snow plow when it first begins moving snow…at first, it has a little snow on the blade, rolling over and over.  After a while, they are pushing show up six feet in the air, lumbering along, appearing as though they will never complete their task.

 [···]

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No More “What’s Next?”: Simple Process Design | Extraordinary Business

Processes take the guesswork and delays out of “what happens next?”  This could be in sales, marketing, customer service or any other area of your business that you need to do, repeatedly.  Personal productivity Expert, Peggy Duncan, reminds us that “if you have to do it more than once, you need to create a process for it.”  It’s just that simple.
Creating a process isn’t simply a matter of talking about it…it is a matter of writing it down, which will serve for several purposes:

  1. Visualizing the process will help you and others on your team see, immediately, if everything makes sense.
  2. You can put a dollar value to the process (how long does it take, who needs to do it and how much do they earn) in order to determine the total cost of the activity.
  3. You have a foundation for continuous improvement.  You can conceptualize ways to make the process easier, and move toward integration of assets to improve the process.  For example, if you are in sales, that might look like finding an intuitive CRM system for the sales team to use.
  4. You can pass the process along.  When bringing new team members into the team, being able to walk them through the process and give them documentation to reinforce the training will make the training process more efficient (as in costing you less).
  5. You can determine the best person for the job.  For example, if you, as the business leader, are used to doing the lion’s share of the business development activities for the business.  Are there parts of the process that other people (who cost the business less than you do) could do?  Are there parts of the process members of your team might do better than you do?

To create a process, you need a few things.

  1. Sticky notes and something to write with
  2. An understanding of what needs to happen
  3. Room to work.  The more steps in your process, the more room you will need.  You might consider using a wall if you have access to one with enough space

Write the destination, or what you hope to accomplish on the first sticky note.  If you begin with the end in mind, you won’t end up getting off track.  Then, write down each step on individual sticky notes.  For example, if you were going to create a process around going outside, one of the steps would be check the temperature.  That would go on one sticky note.  The next one might say something along the lines of determining what clothing to wear based on the temperature.
Next, you’ll put the steps of the process in order.  Without adding your resources (people, software, etc.), review it, and review it, again.  Leaving your resources out will allow you to be objective, so you can see, clearly, if you need to realign resources with steps.  Are there steps in the process that need to be added?  Are there extra steps?  Are there things that could be done better.
On separate sticky notes, decide what resources will be used for what steps, and create a sticky note that you can stick to the process step.  Again, using the sticky notes versus writing on the step, itself, will allow you to realign resources with processes.
Once you are satisfied with what you have created, write it down. Now let your team review it and try to break it. Address the “what if” scenarios.  Address the concerns that your team shares with you about certain steps in the process.  Realize that you may not be able to meet everyone’s concerns, make an effort to discuss them, and offer logical explanations (it’s in the best interest of the company doesn’t quite cut it).  Make any necessary updates, and work with your team to implement the process.
Remember, you will need to review your processes periodically to make adjustments.  Getting better at what you do and how you do it is a hallmark of business success.
Separating your company from being a mediocre one will require a bit more work.  While things might not immediately move extremely quickly, if you are able to look at the longevity, stability and profitability of the organization, you will find that the extra work lays the groundwork to launch you from ordinary to extraordinary.
Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].
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Technorati Tags: Process,process design,business effectiveness,extraordinary business
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No More “What’s Next?”: Simple Process Design | Extraordinary Business

Processes take the guesswork and delays out of “what happens next?”  This could be in sales, marketing, customer service or any other area of your business that you need to do, repeatedly.  Personal productivity Expert, Peggy Duncan, reminds us that “if you have to do it more than once, you need to create a process for it.”  It’s just that simple.

Creating a process isn’t simply a matter of talking about it…it is a matter of writing it down, which will serve for several purposes:

  1. Visualizing the process will help you and others on your team see, immediately, if everything makes sense.
  2. You can put a dollar value to the process (how long does it take, who needs to do it and how much do they earn) in order to determine the total cost of the activity.
  3. You have a foundation for continuous improvement.  You can conceptualize ways to make the process easier, and move toward integration of assets to improve the process.  For example, if you are in sales, that might look like finding an intuitive CRM system for the sales team to use.
  4. You can pass the process along.  When bringing new team members into the team, being able to walk them through the process and give them documentation to reinforce the training will make the training process more efficient (as in costing you less).
  5. You can determine the best person for the job.  For example, if you, as the business leader, are used to doing the lion’s share of the business development activities for the business.  Are there parts of the process that other people (who cost the business less than you do) could do?  Are there parts of the process members of your team might do better than you do?

To create a process, you need a few things. 

  1. Sticky notes and something to write with
  2. An understanding of what needs to happen
  3. Room to work.  The more steps in your process, the more room you will need.  You might consider using a wall if you have access to one with enough space

Write the destination, or what you hope to accomplish on the first sticky note.  If you begin with the end in mind, you won’t end up getting off track.  Then, write down each step on individual sticky notes.  For example, if you were going to create a process around going outside, one of the steps would be check the temperature.  That would go on one sticky note.  The next one might say something along the lines of determining what clothing to wear based on the temperature.

Next, you’ll put the steps of the process in order.  Without adding your resources (people, software, etc.), review it, and review it, again.  Leaving your resources out will allow you to be objective, so you can see, clearly, if you need to realign resources with steps.  Are there steps in the process that need to be added?  Are there extra steps?  Are there things that could be done better.

On separate sticky notes, decide what resources will be used for what steps, and create a sticky note that you can stick to the process step.  Again, using the sticky notes versus writing on the step, itself, will allow you to realign resources with processes.

Once you are satisfied with what you have created, write it down. Now let your team review it and try to break it. Address the “what if” scenarios.  Address the concerns that your team shares with you about certain steps in the process.  Realize that you may not be able to meet everyone’s concerns, make an effort to discuss them, and offer logical explanations (it’s in the best interest of the company doesn’t quite cut it).  Make any necessary updates, and work with your team to implement the process.

Remember, you will need to review your processes periodically to make adjustments.  Getting better at what you do and how you do it is a hallmark of business success.

Separating your company from being a mediocre one will require a bit more work.  While things might not immediately move extremely quickly, if you are able to look at the longevity, stability and profitability of the organization, you will find that the extra work lays the groundwork to launch you from ordinary to extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Don't Wait – Plan for Success

Have you ever walked into a department store, gotten your items and headed toward the line, where there were 15 or so people waiting to check out?  How do you feel when you notice that there are 10 lanes that are unoccupied, and no one there to operate them?  If you are like me, you are probably thinking to yourself that someone needs to open up another line or two and get these people out the door.Still waiting?

According to several managers I spoke with, the problem arises when there are staff shortages, when large orders come in or when they simply didn’t schedule enough people for a particular shift.  Other managers I have spoken with tell me that their goal is to provide an outstanding customer experience, therefore, there is always adequate staff on hand.  The tradeoff, there, is that they have to charge a little bit more for their services.

Which company do you think plans for success?

Well, company ‘A’ is completely dependent on selling a large volume.  Their margins are very slim, their turnover is high because they don’t pay very well, and more often then not, they are running on a “skeleton crew” or the bare minimum to keep the doors open.   Customers aren’t very satisfied with the products, quality or the shopping experience.

Company ‘B’ is also dependent on selling a large volume of goods.  Their margins are also slim, but their turnover is low because they pay their employees a fair wage.  They can get a bit more from their customers because their customers appreciate the clean environment, quality products and the great customer service.  Store lines don’t get to be longer than five minutes or so, and the store has plenty of self check-out lines.

Looking at the whole scenario, it is obvious that both companies have a place in the marketplace, and they appeal to different markets.  During tough times, people may even be more likely to go to store ‘A.’  However, I would bet dollars to donuts, that their loyalty would probably be with store ‘B.’  Additionally, I would bet that when people at store ‘A’ want something nice, they will go to store ‘B.’

Still stuck?

Which store do you think would be better apt to handle a recession?  Which one do you think would be better able to handle an economic boom?  Which one do you think makes a better impact on the community?  Which one has a better shot at longevity?

I would bet that store ‘B’ has spent more time planning, learning and growing in order to get to the position their at.  The simple act of charging higher prices, and getting them, demonstrates the fact that they have a product that they know is superior to the rest of the market – they are an extraordinary business.  They plan – not to be adequate or mediocre.  They plan to be extraordinary.  While during economic recession, many stores in their industries closed – including many of the store ‘A’ type stores, the store ‘B’ – type stores continued to thrive.  As we head toward a period of economic growth, ‘B’ – type stores will continue to adapt and provide for the needs of their growing market.  At the same time, ‘A’ type stores may find that they are facing a dwindling market.

The time to plan is now. Don’t wait until the market starts to change. If that means you should start looking for new employees, begin to do so. If it means that you should be positioned to upgrade your equipment or process, proceed with it. If it means that you need to prepare for a huge marketing or branding campaign, make it your priority.

Planning is essential to becoming an extraordinary business. Remember: being ordinary is easy. Being extraordinary takes work. Be extraordinary.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Business Growth Strategies,Business planning,Management and leadership,Business Strategy,Process Improvement,Recession Buster,Small Business Consulting,Strategic Planning,Extraordinary Leadership
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Open Your Eyes! Seeing Opportunities

This morning, I told my five-year-old son to go into the kitchen and get his jacket.  He returned to the kitchen a short while later stating that he couldn’t find the jacket.  I told him he should have put it away so he would know where it was.  He told me that he’d put it on the counter at breakfast time.  I told him to run to the kitchen, and get it.

Well, we were on our way out of the door, so I quickly ran to the kitchen to take a look.  There, hanging on a door knob, was the sweater.  All he had to do was turn around a look.

Sometimes as business leaders, we find ourselves in a similar position: we are looking for opportunities or people or products or services, and we can’t seem to find them.  Sometimes we get so keenly focused on a process that we fail to realize that there might be another path to achieve the same results.  Sometimes, we are over-complex in our dealings when simplicity could be what is called for.  Sometimes extraordinary is behind door number two, and we get focused on door number one.Explore Your Opportunities

Just to be clear, that happens to most of us in many situations.  But having the knowledge and ability to change and doing nothing about it  is pure foolishness.  So let’s look at some options.

Sometimes, the solution could be as simple as taking another look at your goals, and creating several ways (milestones) to accomplish the same thing.  Give yourself an appropriate timeframe as follows:

“Looking at how to achieve the goal, I am going to give myself 24 hours to come up with alternate processes or steps to reach the same solution.”

  • If you’ve got the resources, enlist the assistance of other stakeholders, be it clients, employees, vendors, advisors, investors, etc..  Do an brainstorming session.  Keep the timeframe appropriate – if a decision needs to be made within several hours, consider, realistically, the number of people you could reach out to and what could be accomplished.
  • Ask questions, do research.  Keep in mind that you only know what you know, and you don’t know what you don’t know.  If you can become better versed in a situation, then you will have a better perspective on the situation.
  • Consider what could go wrong, or what could go right with the solutions you’ve chosen.  While it may seem like some unnecessary steps, you will find that you can do this in a reasonable amount of time, depending on the situation.  Again, give yourself a reasonable timeframe within to work
  • Consider how important the situation is.  Invest the appropriate amount of resources into making the decision.  It shouldn’t take a team of consultants, the board of directors and a brainstorming session to determine how your office should be set up.  On the other hand, major expenses should be weighed and measured before pursuing them.

Great opportunities are only gathered and acted on by those who are attuned to seeing them and ready to move once they do see them.  It is a mentality and a decision.  If you tune your mind to constantly seek out opportunities, you will find that opportunities are everywhere.  If you develop a process to identify, evaluate and purse opportunities as they present themselves, you will find you can manage and take advantage opportunities as they present themselves.

Aepiphanni Business Solutions is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping people get into business, and stay there.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including restaurants, catering and event planning.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected].


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Technorati Tags: Business Decisions,Business Path,Business Process,Extraordinary,Focus,Management and Leadership,Process Improvement,Recession Buster,Vision
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