zero-tolerance for inefficiency

Zero-tolerance for inefficiency [PMP #269]

Every week, my Zapier expert, Warwick, and I do a ’weekly review’ where we run down the list of all clients we’re currently working with to determine where we’re at and what we need to do next. During last Friday’s review, we were exploring whether there’s a better way of managing our workload and I said something that has since stuck in my mind.

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I said:

“We need to have a policy of zero-tolerance for inefficiency. We need to always be improving how we do things and not put up with inefficiency just because we’re busy.”

It’s very easy, especially when you’re busy, to continue doing things the way you’ve always done them. Changing a process or the way you work can be scary for those involved. In fact, there’s even a little bit of risk that you make things worse.

But if you want to save time (and money) you need to take this risk and plug the holes in any inefficient processes you can find. As I mentioned in episode 260, for the last few years, instead of focusing on revenue growth, I’ve made efficiency my number 1 goal. Coincidently, when you make your business more efficient, revenue tends to grow as a result.

I like to think we have a pretty good process already. We handle a decent amount of work for a team our size. But we can always do better. If I had to give us a grade out of 10, I’d say we’re about a 7 or 8. But getting to a 10 is going to be difficult (maybe impossible). It’s going to mean being on the lookout for even the smallest improvements we can make. For example, this might mean using a simple email template when closing out a project. On its own, it doesn’t seem like a huge time-saver. But when we have to send hundreds of client updates a year, if we can reduce the number of follow-up questions we get by having a better template, this will add up to more time saved over the long run.

By having a zero-tolerance for inefficiency and chasing these micro improvements the goal is to:

  • Save time (obviously). Because given the choice, if we can deliver the same project in less time, that’s more profit for the business.
  • Increase capacity. Saving time is great but for a business, the real ROI comes from being able to take on more projects or clients at once.
  • Less stress. When I have to do something in an inefficient way, it pains me. When we can implement a solution that saves us time, it makes everyone’s life a little easier.

For us, part of adopting this philosophy means solving the problem quickly. Once we identify inefficiency or that something can be done better, the goal is to implement a solution, quickly. The faster we can implement an improvement, the quicker we can benefit from the change and break even on the time spent making that change.