Making sure your business is future-fit

 April 13, 2016
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 get in touch“The Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by smartphones, cloud technology and explosive connectivity was the topic for the recently ended 2016 World Economic Forum at Davos”, as reported by Brenda Chiremba from News Day in Zimbabwe. Take a second and just let this sink in.

Current news feeds are filled with headlines of economies and markets suffering very low growth rates and some even on the brink of a recession. Many businesses are and will suffer as a result of this. The question that lingers – is it really necessary and are there solutions to avoid this suffering? The answer is there most certainly are.

The process of revisiting a business’s expenses in tough times is one of the first steps, especially when there is a decline in revenue. Human emotions tend to be heightened in these situations as well. This sometimes clouds decision making and overlooking solutions that could assist a business in being more efficient and can automate many processes.

Research does however show that internal barriers such as a risk-averse, unsupportive culture with inflexible processes and silo mentality often stall change efforts (Sim & Rogers 2009). As mentioned this could cloud decision-making and business responsiveness.


How do you improve or remove business complexity?

To identify areas where operational efficiency can be increased, businesses should consider asking themselves the following questions:

  • Are our policies and processes easily understood, accessible and up to date to enable speedy decision-making
  • Is there duplication or decision points that are redundant e.g. unnecessary inspections and sign-offs, and multiple data sources, with potential for error?
  • Can processes be done in parallel, rather than in sequence?
  • Are people in the right roles, and do they have the right tools?
  • Can technology help to increase productivity and reduce potential for costly mistakes?
  • Does the organization have the skills and resources to identify and attract the right people when new expertise is needed?
  • Is leadership visibly committed to agility and continuous improvement?

Moving Forward

Today’s globalised and free-market environment sees the emergence of more non-traditional competitors and increasing customer demands, which concludes that companies should consider ways of making their systems more agile and flexible.

The call to simplify and remove complexity means limited resources can be directed to satisfying customer expectations (Harvard Business Review 2012).

Most times employees have a wealth of knowledge and fresh ideas. External sources are also available to guide and assist businesses along this road and develop practical solutions whether it is a workflow change or the implementation of a software solution.

Importantly too is developing the “kaizen spirit” in every employee through a shared commitment to improve things via step-by-step changes, starting small.


Ready to become future-fit?

If you’re ready to optimise your business practices, get in touch and we’ll work out a plan to get you there.

Reflections from Toyota’s lean strategy:
‘We get brilliant results from average people managing brilliant processes. We observe that our competitors often get average (or worse) results from brilliant people managing broken processes’.

– Acknowledgement and a word of thanks for the contribution to this article goes to: Brenda Chiremba is an experienced HR and OD Consultant with IPP Learning, a Harare-based training and development consultancy;

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