Break-through Improvement


Break-through improvement starts with your customers. Who are they? What do they want out of life? What do they want from you? You may not be a mind-reader but there are a few things you can do to find out the answers to these questions (and these answers are vital to your success!)

One option is to perform market research (or outsource it to the professionals) to find out what your buyer personas are (you can learn more about that in our blog – Knowing Your Buyer Persona: Why it’s Essential to Increasing Profits).

Another option is to look internally. Review your customer complaints. What is the frequency of complaints? What are the complaints you are worried you might get? What are your customers’ buying trends? What is your new product or service plan to make sure you stay ahead of the competition?

After you have figured out the answers to these questions, you need to act quickly to solve them. Most people are familiar with the phrase, “The customer is always right.” Many are starting to adapt an attitude of indifference to this “policy” because a select few are taking advantage and costing the company more than benefitting them. But neither way is entirely effective.

When you have a customer, you must do all you can to keep them (it is much easier to nurture a customer, than to find a new one!) (Click to tweet!) Find out what they want, and if they are unhappy, do everything in your power to make it right or even go above and beyond. If they continue to cause trouble for you, then consider finding a better customer to take their place.

Which brings us to how to solve these issues and improve customer satisfaction…It’s all about systems and data. Which systems are in statistical control? Which are not? What data do you have to the key quality requests of your customers? What systems control do you have or waste regarding any of the following:

  • Work in process
  • Output Capacity
  • Bottle-necks
  • Re-work
  • Cycle Times
  • Costs and Expense
  • Plan versus Actual

People Information Systems

  • What data do you have regarding employee turnover?
  • Why do people leave?
  • Is your recruiting effective?
  • Is your training effective?
  • Is everyone productive and organized?

Prioritizing Data

  • Look for variances and potential problems.
    • Which trends and new developments could create problems up the road?
    • Which financial variances and profit trends may cause real problems?

Look for Opportunities

  • What does market research show you about new direction and new capabilities you could offer that take advantage of your unique expertise?
  • What trends do you see that could put you in a unique position to capture more markets and technology?

Look for what is Urgent

  • Opportunities that may soon disappear
  • Problems that could develop into crises

Get Employees Involved for Break-though Improvement

  • Look for problems and variances that lead to consequences
  • What causes problems?
  • What are the causes of the causes?
  • What are the systems or factors that lead to problems?

Make sure you have data; not opinions or guesses, only data.

Define the Ideal

  • What new goals get you really excited?
  • What new series of strategic projects will push your Organization to new levels never dreamed of before?
  • New Products
  • New Services
  • New Strategic Alliances
  • What new systems and processes action plan will take you to the next level?
  • Who is invaluable to head up the break-through?
  • What is the purpose of the break-through team?
  • How will you measure progress?

Leaders shift from planning to review; from decision makers to researchers and educators. Break-though improvement results from theory and experience. The break-through strategic project plan is theory. As it is applied, people learn what works and what doesn’t in order to learn to do better.

Did you learn something new from this article? Is there something you would like to share that may benefit others? I’d appreciate your comments in the section below!

Also, I would definitely appreciate it if you would please share this with your friends and coworkers; you would be helping me, and maybe them as well.

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Published On: December 8th, 2014 /

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