Wordsmith Business : Idiot-proofing your business processes

We all are idiots, depending on domains, time and circumstances.

An exceptional man of one domain may prove to be a certified idiot in another domain.

This is a facet of life and not your misfortune or something specific to you or your business. In short : your business will encounter idiots (including yourself) and it stands to reason to think of idiot-proofing your business.

Here are some recommendations based on experience, observation, hearsay and field data :

I. Simplify your processes and an atomic level step should be so simple that an ape can also do.  This is must if you want to scale up and scale up fast. Observer all fast food franchisee chains. Their processes are more or less idiot-proof. Any idiot may deliver below par pizza but cannot ruin it completely.

II.  Management Idiot-Proofing. One of the ways to make the business idiot-proof from management / owners is to ask four questions everyday – a) Why did we make a sale today ? b) Why we did not make a sale today ? c) Is my team happy and why ? d) Is my team unhappy and why ? 

III. Idiot Proofing from Big Idea and Big Vanity. Many small businesses reach a certain level and then two dangerous diseases might develop, unless diagnosed. One of the lure of “Big Idea” and another is “Big Vanity.” Big Idea is shooting far above one’s own station and Big Vanity is reclining in the invisible pillow of old glory. This can come from any level.  Idiot proofing processes are – a) we shall be debt-free and b) we shall ask our existing customers for our Big Vanity project. A man I knew built big office and so on as a Vanity Project. How it was Vanity Project ? His customers complained that he was charging more and they had thought that this was to fund his Office project rather than adding value to them. He lost old clients, got into debt and in short : lost money, reputation and vanity. 

IV. Idiot proofing from Delusion : It is one of the greatest paradoxes of human nature that many small businesses do not love their customers. What they like or love then ? To be in delusion, what else ? Many businesses have employees who in course of time start hating customers.  If you talk with such employees and listen intently, they talk of customers as a nuisance – someone who is disturbing their delusional stupor.  Select few customers and ask them to spot such delusional idiots – if you, as Management or Owner  disagree to do this for any reason whatsoever, you are most likely in delusion. See  II and III above.

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