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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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Are Your Standards Slipping?

Would you even notice?


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 17/11/2021 @ 8:00AM

This week's blog post was prompted by a visit I made to someone’s offices last week. Whilst they went off to sort out our meeting room I was invited to help myself to coffee. All recyclable paper cups and wooden stirrers ...

If you're worried your standards are slipping then maybe we should have a chat?

If you're worried your standards are slipping then maybe we should have a chat?

copyright: kues / 123rf

I went over to the recycling bin which had two openings. One was marked 'recycling/cans and paper' and one marked 'general waste'. For a moment I wasn't sure which one to deposit my wooden stirrer in so I peered through the opening to see what others had done. It really didn't matter.

"Both openings fed into the same plastic bag inside!"

Now, I was surprised and a little bit disappointed as this was a business that prides itself on its green credentials. How could they not have noticed the loss of their two waste buckets which would have cost, but pennies to replace? My next thought was, "I wonder what else has slipped?"

Easy to be judgemental, isn't it? The truth is I had noticed it, but the team hadn't. As any consultant knows it's a common phenomenon. No matter how well managed you are or how well documented your processes, you will get inefficiency creep.

As time goes on people leave, join, change roles or just refocus and little things stop being important and get missed. Then it becomes the norm, everyone knows that they need two buckets in the waste bin, but it's obviously not important because no one has addressed it. Then everyone stops even noticing it, and one bin liner becomes the norm.

A good non-work example is how your perfect home suddenly develops all sorts of deficits when you put it on the market to sell. The leaky tap, sticking door, and loose floorboard. It all embarrasses you when the first estate agent comes around to look!

The counter side of this argument is that the company suffers from efficiency creep. All the effort of the company goes into perfecting existing processes. Everything is monitored down to the nth degree and every process is detailed. Ultimately, the workforce and senior management stop thinking.

After all, you can't be sacked for doing it by the book, can you? Everyone can take comfort that their efficiency will outperform the newcomer in the market with their whacky new ideas. Now, how much effort you put into fixing that depends on the cost/benefit!

Sticking with the home sale example, is the buyer of your house going to pay more or less depending on you fixing those little niggles? Is that moment of embarrassment worth avoiding?

Back to my bin liner example. If the company is selling itself on its green credentials then the bin liner may have considerable significance especially if the company's environmental audit is due next week.

"I'm not advocating for one or the other approaches. What is needed is balance!"

Some processes need to be highly efficient and by the book. Paying staff the right amount on time each month comes to mind. On the other hand, remember to build in the space for people to use their creativity to come up with the new.

Then you can fly instead of creeping.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like to discover more, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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