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Finding One-percent Improvements – a Tiny Success Story
A few of my previous posts have concentrated on increasing productivity by finding the one percent improvements you can make in your business; the ‘one-percenters’. These small, incremental improvements really do make a difference.
It’s very easy to write blogs about improving productivity, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to even start looking. So, I thought it would be useful to share a recent experience in my own business. The saving may be seeming minuscule, but I can guarantee that it will make a difference.
Our environmental team obviously spend a lot of their time out in the great outdoors, collecting environmental samples and working with clients to find solutions to their environmental issues. Consequently, they are often away for whole days or even weeks on some of our remote projects. So, to make sure that they are all safe, we instituted a Safety Check System. Positive contact (contact – reply – acknowledge) must be made between the office and the field team at given intervals throughout the day. To do this, we use a mixture of technologies, but by far the majority of communication is via our smartphones using a text message. We do have 2-way radios in all the vehicles, but their range is limited.
Text is an incredibly efficient means of communication, especially compared to when we started our business 20 years ago when there was nothing except those limited 2-way radios. But to send a text, the field team must stop what they are doing, probably remove their gloves or other protective equipment, type a reply into the Message app and wait for the acknowledgement from the office.
Then, a couple of weeks ago, we came across one of the gazillion apps in the App Store that we thought we would try. It’s called Zello, and it effectively turns a mobile smartphone into a 2-way radio. Yes, I know that apps like this have been around for some years, but we just didn’t click on to how useful they could be to us. You simply press a button and speak. We hadn’t been ‘looking for the peas’ in our business.
Now, we can set up groups that include all the team members who will be out working that day. The responsible person in the office speaks a message that goes to everyone at the same time, and they all simply speak their reply. No more texting and waiting.
The new system certainly doesn’t save mountains of time, but over a day, a week, a year… the cumulative effect will certainly be significant. The field team love it; no more trying to text with dirty, sweaty fingers.
Finding the one-percenters in your own business takes vigilance. They can be right under your nose (or in our case, in the App Store), but you don’t see them. I invite you to look around your business and try to spot any tiny changes you could make. Ask your team. Maybe even bring in someone from outside, because it can be hard to look at our own business with a critical eye.
I’d love to hear your success stories. As they say in a certain advertisement, from little things, big things grow.
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