The Failure Analysis Exercise: How to Reset Your System For Success
In the beginning, your remodeling business had systems and you were on top of the world. It was you, your clipboard, pager, tool belt and pick-up truck. You were making decent money and drowning in client praises. Your company’s systems were the key to your success.
One successful job after another and you found yourself in a small office with a receptionist, a part time bookkeeper and 3 – 4 lead men in the field running 20-25 jobs a year. Gradually, the client at-a-boy back slaps and appreciative handshakes turned into days of dodging bullets, plugging holes in the dam and apologizing for schedule delays, budget busts and lapses in fit and finish.
I know, I’ve been there… success and efficiency were pushed aside by busy-work and the “Busyness Monster” ate your lunch, kicked you in the teeth and stole your girlfriend.
I know personally, when I hit this point, I realized I had failed to identify, codify, implement, adhere to and train my employees in the systems necessary to ensure high quality, consistent success for everyone (myself, my employees, my clients, my subcontractors and supplier).
Now what to do about it? How do you reset your momentum and regain your quality of life, your work excellence and your profit?
Well, the things I identified above are the real key steps to success; identifying, codifying, implementing, adhering to and training the systems that worked for you in the beginning. You are, in fact, looking to clone yourself.
What could you accomplish with a “team of yourself?” Think about what you could accomplish with a team that understands, in real time, your heart, unspoken objectives and core values. No communication necessary.
So, where do you start?
Start here. Get your key team members together for a one hour meeting. Take the first 10 minutes to identify the most costly, recurring, toxic mistake your company is making. I find that most teams know what it is and that the issue is often deeply rooted and tolerated, creating a cultural habit that everyone feels is too difficult to change. It’s just “the way it’s always been” and “the way it will always be”. This issue usually lies very close to you, the owner.
These toxic mistakes might include: unrealistic and sloppy estimating, rushing jobs to production (before they are adequately packaged in order to solve cash flow problems) and compulsively changing plans and strategies based on some urgent issue.
Let’s get back to our one hour meeting. Now that you have identified that key toxic idea, take the next 50 minutes to collaborate on an established procedure that eliminates the possibility of this toxic issue re-occurring. This is a 360 -degree failure analysis. Identify why the failure is happening and what procedures can be implemented to stop it. Put the procedure or steps your team develops in writing. Distribute and discuss it with everyone, every day. Accept no excuses. Your Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Manual now has a Chapter 1.
At the next month’s meeting (schedule it for one hour & fifteen minutes) take 10 minutes to identify the next most costly, recurring, toxic mistake. Conduct the same 360 degree failure analysis exercise. Take the next 50 minutes to eliminate it. Distribute and discuss it with everyone, every day. Accept no excuses. Your SOP Manual now has Chapter 2.
The final 15 minutes of this meeting will be some of the most profitable, powerful and meaningful time ever spent with your team. Review and discuss your progress on the issue you identified in Chapter 1 and celebrate its success. Show your team how smart they are and what new heights they can reach.
Proceed this way for 6 to 8 months. If the team is consistent in abiding by this growing SOP Manual and has the courage to hold each other accountable, you’ll be amazed. A team- authored document will be much easier to implement because everyone owns a piece of it from birth. Pride of authorship is incredibly powerful!
Final Test; the secret vacation
At the 12-month anniversary of your first meeting, force yourself to take a secret vacation. Your SOP Manual has gown now to 10 or 11 chapters. Time to put your changes to the test. Take an unannounced three or four day leave of absence to your favorite happy place. Upon your return, every weak link in your established procedures will be obvious. Weak links can show up in a particular form, a channel of communication or a person. The next most costly, recurring toxic mistake has identified itself. You know what to do.