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It really doesn’t matter who you think your external competitors are, because the only competitor that really matters is you. Of course, you will look externally to stay on top of latest trends, but when it comes to competition, just competing with yourself is a win. When you look at yourself as your greatest competitor you will start with a huge advantage: you already have great intel on how “your competition” thinks. Ask yourself, “What can I do to displace my ‘competitor’ and create something much better?”
Process efficiency: The first area in which to compete is process efficiency. If you can perform your processes in a more efficient way, you will begin to add capacity, increase employee happiness, enjoy higher productivity, and find greater customer satisfaction. This will lead to more sales and ultimately higher profits.
And when we talk about process efficiency this includes all processes: how you answer phones, make sales, process orders, manufacture your products, do your accounting, shipping, filling out paperwork and every other process step in your business. When doing these tasks in your business, think differently. Think in terms of crushing the competition. Albert Einstein said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” So, if you are busy chasing your so-called external competition, you will miss the greatest opportunity sitting right in front of you—the opportunity to think differently and compete with yourself.
Use the formula: As we start the new year—what we are calling the year of continuous improvement—it’s a good time to start with the simple process improvement formula: X = Xc – 1. When you look at any current process (Xc), the question you want to ask (and have your coworkers ask) is, “How can we reduce (Xc) by (1)?” It could be one day, one hour, one minute, one less piece of material, one less percent of scrap, one less form to fill out, or it could even be lowering a risk factor or other even less tangible things. By reducing (Xc) by (1) we now have a new (X) and the process starts over.
The tricky part can be deciding what to choose for your first (X). In the early phases of process improvement, the common advice is to start with small improvement projects and grow from there. By doing so, you and your team will be able to feel and celebrate the success and benefits gained. X = Xc – 1 is perhaps a new way of thinking for some. In any case, X = Xc – 1 focuses you and your team to really compete with your greatest competitor—yourself.
This article appeared in the January 2021 issue of PCB007 Magazine.