Good Busy and Bad Busy

Being busy, for many of us is looked at as a good thing. Sometimes being busy isn’t good for our business. It depends upon the type of busy.

Certainly, we have all heard someone in our lives say, “I’m busy.” “I’m too busy to do that now.” “I wish I had more time but I’m too busy.”

Sometimes we looked at those comments as excuses. Sometimes we marveled at the energy and commitment of the person saying them. Sometimes we looked at the person saying them and thought, “No, you’ve filled your time with unnecessary activity and are paying a terrible price for it.”

Look at these examples;

John and Mary are co-owners of a business they took over after their father retired. The business manufactures and sells its own consumer product. For the last 3 years, the business has been steadily declining in both sales and profitability. They hired a Consultant to help them turn the business around. The Consultant gave them a plan of action, specific causes of the decline, processes to fix the causes and a variety of tools to use to measure and ensure that they desired progress was taking place. John and Mary took some of the suggestions and implemented them. They cleaned up and organized the manufacturing area, they eliminated old inventory either by selling it, donating it, or throwing it away. They measured their production processes to make sure that they were charging enough to both cover costs and make a profit. They retained non-productive employees and continued to dust, clean, organize and rearrange everything in the business. Friends and neighbors repeatedly commented on how busy they were and Jon and Mary agreed.

What John and Mary were doing was keeping busy. However, the difficult things that would actually improve their business, create more productive work and eliminate the type of work that keeps them from developing a profitable business were not done. They said they were too busy doing the others.

David owns a very profitable business that employs 14 people. David approves everything and nothing gets done unless David says it is OK. David is gone all day, working with customers because he doesn’t think his employees can do the job as good as he can. David employees ask him for things they need and he tells them he doesn’t have time to do those things. He doesn’t have time to pay bills, invoice customers or make decisions. David says he is too busy.

In both instances above the type of busy is bad.  While the person has a lot to do, their busy isn’t doing the right things for their business. Those things would be improving performance, productivity, and profitability. Their busy is best categorized as waste.

It is almost impossible to eliminate all waste. But if your goals are to have zero waste, you can reduce the waste you do have to its lowest possible level.

There are many different kinds of waste but for now, we are talking about the waste created by doing things that do not add value. Those things that on their surface look like good effort and work, but are in reality costs to your business that take away from your revenue and ultimately your profitability

You begin to eliminate waste by looking at your processes. Use your team members and their knowledge of processes to help you do this. As you go through this process, remember this is not the time to blame anyone, this is the time to identify wasteful practices and eliminate or reduce them. You do this by mapping out your process step by step and then find the problems and fix them.

When I work with clients I have them map out an entire work process minute by minute. Every step is included from the actual hours you spend working on your product and service, to materials you purchase, and;

  • Prep time and planning
  • Purchasing and order entry
  • Lead times for supplies or training
  • Cycle time necessary to make product or provide a service
  • Travel times to get the product or service to the necessary location(s).
  • Determining Specifications
  • Scheduling
  • Transactions & Reports
  • Paperwork

As you do this look at your existing processes and identify areas where waste is a problem. You could compare materials and component purchases with output, or simply walk around your business.

As you identify all of the steps, remember they have a cost, a cost in time that you must pay for. Identifying these time and cost comparisons tells you where to focus your attention and what is worth your time (more cost) to fix.

Waste takes money directly away from your profitability. Eliminating or reducing that waste puts that money directly back into your profits.

Want to know more? Ask me, I’m here to help.