Want to know how to improve your business? Take a golf lesson!
The day had finally arrived.
It was my very first golf lesson and my face was gleaming with excitement at the thought of being on the course with a golf master right by my side. I was certain that my transformation from a useless hacker to a brilliant golfer was about to begin!
Picture the scene – a beautiful summer’s day on a lusciously grassy outdoor range. With a 7-iron in my hands and my eyes focused on a distant target, I began to swing and show my instructor what I could do, while he relaxed into a nice comfy chair behind me.
After hitting several golf balls and seeing them fly off in different directions, my instructor (who was still in his lazed position) began to commentate “TOO FAST, TOO SLOW, OVER-THE-TOP, YOU PUSHED IT, YOU PULLED IT…”
This went on for 15 minutes. All my instructor did was criticise my swing; he offered not a single word of encouragement or advice. Can you believe I had actually paid good money for this humiliation?!
Eventually my instructor asked what I wanted to do. I looked at him in disbelief and blurted out with exasperation “I want you to fix my swing!”
He looked at me and smoothly uttered the words “OK … but which swing do you want me to fix?”
I immediately started to laugh because it was in that moment that I got it. I understood exactly what was wrong.
You see, I had no problem understanding the game of golf, my problem was that I lacked consistency in my shot technique. I could hit ten different golf balls in ten different ways!
Later, my instructor explained that for us to work on my swing, I had to first have a single swing to improve on.
This problem is very common in business organisations because they have their eyes fixed on creating a perfect product or service but neglect the importance of having their own people work in a standard way.
Any organisation pursuing high quality outputs and operational excellence knows the importance of continuous improvement. But the cycle of improvement can only begin once there is an agreed standard – a clear sequence of steps that employees can acknowledge as the norm. At this stage, the process does not have to be flawless, in fact, recognising that a process is bad is the first step towards improvement!
A standardised process can be remoulded and sharpened by the help of methodologies such as business process management.
Organisations can only ace their processes once they realise that standardisation is key. The presence of a standardised process eliminates ambiguity and welcomes common understanding and language into the work environment, allowing people to have an established framework to do their job properly.
The moment I developed a consistent swing was the moment I started to become a better golfer. Every now and then I review my swing with my instructor and we introduce small improvements.
Customer and employee satisfaction plus efficiency and compliance can be improved when an organisation chooses to be consistent in their ways of working,as standardised processes are a foundation for continuous improvement and sustained business performance.