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Organic or planned it’s up to you

Have you noticed the rate of change in your business is speeding up, yet the productivity and profits are seemingly drifting apart? Perhaps there are some obvious reasons like – we are slaves to mobile phones, we are online and connected 24/7. We have an overload of information, phone calls, people asking you questions, quotes to do today, job sheets to process, clients to visit, just stuff to do and loads of stress… and your effectiveness and output has declined.

They are the obvious reasons. We are suggesting it is YOU who lets this happen. The following may serve as a template to let you consider how you arrived there and how perhaps you can clear the decks and make life easier, more fun and more profitable. If you are interested, then read on.

Your business may have morphed into a situation that can be either:

1. Organic:  originally you probably designed your factory and offices taking great delight in getting it just right. Over years another machine arrives, new people join your business and so on. These resulting slow and gradual changes are potentially like a creeping cancer robbing the health of the efficiencies you planned. While worst of all robbing your productivity and profits.

2. Planned: Whereas just as the new machine and people are necessary for growth, ponder that specific moment in time when you introduced those assets to your layout and employment pool. I’m all for grow and increases profits and by taking a few moments to plan at critical times may pay huge dividends to your business.

When your company grows, the levels of complexity, management and production process exponentially multiply. Many lose sight of simple yet highly critical changes while struggling to comprehend why the frustration of additional mistakes, production delays and lost profits causes such pain! I put to you if you have one staff member and you are a sole trader that is a 100% change! Or another example – you invest in a new printer – your old printer output was 20 metres and hour, the new on produces 45 meters per hour – that is a 125% increase in capacity. Just two of my questions are “where are you going to sell it? and how is the output going to be designed, prepressed, printed, laminated, packed and installed?”

Let’s consider a case study:

Rapid Organic growth: A 30+ years of highly successful trading Company “A” which prides itself on agility and customer focus is offered an instant and huge opportunity. In reaction – Company “A” installs new high output large format printers increasing the factories capacity around 10+ fold – that is equal to 100’s of square meters per hour. So, what is the problem one may ask?

Potential Risks: In previous growth phases, the old formula always resulted in success; however, 2016 brings many changes – from massive capital investment, rapid staff increases and many more issue. Although many hundreds of thousands have been invested in machinery, little has been invested in people, understanding the space, skill sets, processes, increase in space and logistics required.

Threat: This opportunity opens the door to becoming an enormous risk if deadlines and installs are missed. The new client can easily move to another printer, yet company “A” will face serious issues to find work to feed those hungry machines and repayments!

Potential Solution: Hopefully it is not too late to revise the “ROG” (rapid organic growth) and re-planned certain areas, which offer the greatest risks, and this is always achieved by careful planning, although it is a complex process by planning the end to end work flow can ensure they are minimizing risk and building layers of safe guards to protect all area from risk.

How can you look to evaluate changing Organic to Planned where needed?

The more co-ordination required and more complex the process becomes then obviously in hindsight the more refinements are needed. Consider the end to end view from the sales operation, quoting, office administration, production planning, print, assemble though to goods outward and delivery have become an increasingly complex and ever-changing batch of processes dependent on sites, time frames and the like.

While developing processes polices and systems, they must be a tailored for your specific needs and desired outcomes. Typically, they must be driven in co-ordination with all areas including the clients, suppliers and stakeholders. Yes, involving the whole end-to-end operation and people can add unnecessary complexity. There is a saying my son Ben often uses in software development – “Complex is easy, developing simplicity is complex!” I stand by his comment and what are your alternatives? That is why planning in the beginning is far simpler than retrospectively!

These are 6 quick approaches that may help:


1. Change direction: Over the last few years, many of businesses have survived mainly cutting prices – this is dangerous and ineffective. Profits and costs have bottomed out. Businesses will have to change how they engage the customers to develop clients and learn to find profit and growth through selling value, NOT just price.

2. Everybody in the team should be onboard: It is very naive to think your people don’t see the pain. However it is reflected in static wages for one. Try to educate and encourage them to understand everyone is responsible to create the product with perfect results. Build responsibility to increase output, pride of work and effectively customer delight!  Focus culture on “Everyone supports the sale” – NEVER accept comments like “it’s not my job.”

3. Merge, Sell or Buy: Right now the smart money is on the move. If you ended up in the organic quagmire and just don’t have the energy, passion or will to continue as you are then perhaps it’s time to PLAN what your future is? Who knows you might find very exciting opportunities that you have overlooked and reinvent a happier and more fulfilled life for you and your family by just considering – “What is the future for you?”


1. Shake it up: If you have the energy for it, we highly recommend – wake up tomorrow, go to work with a new ethos and throw out those old rose coloured glasses and change! Create your own mantra that ensures you excite your team whether you employ 2 or 200 people.

2. De-Junk and De-clutter: Whether it’s your office, factory or even that messy car, frankly I don’t care where you start; it’s all about where you finish. In all honestly the process actually never finishes as if you truly embrace improvements then you will soon get your head around “the process of continuous improvement.”

3. Optimize everything: Yes, it’s a big call. It is more about looking at a single piece of your own personal puzzle and drilling down to achieve the best results! Let’s look at systems briefly – if you can’t find a quote of job sheet for “xyz customer” in a few seconds, copy it, pdf to email then once accepted convert to a job in under a minute or so – well you are costing yourself time and therefore money – find a software system that will help optimize your time or better still allow the process to be passed on to someone else dedicated to client fulfillment!

What is the answer?

Start now, not tomorrow. The speed of the changes is breathtaking, and above all, is increasing not slowing. Your challenge is – each company, each proprietor has their own set of in-house, usually unwritten, rules that will require consideration and an understanding of your own circumstances to achieve successful results.

My very best advice is just don’t sit on your hands and think in past tense like how great it was yesterday – think tomorrow and act. So, talk to your consultant, mentor, or association to help you plan your new sunny future.

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