I put real value in having the right routines, metrics, objectives and controls in place for a business. Sometimes, however, you just need to take a step back and make sure that what you are doing looks right. Taking this short time out can make a real difference to the pace and direction of the improvements you are trying to make and the way that you run your business.

Having very fixed ways of working is often helpful for efficiency, but not always for effectiveness. If you get your blinkers on and get stuck into a certain way of working it can lead you down a sub-optimal path and over time you might not see the ‘wood for the trees’. Taking a step back and looking at what you are doing, in general, can help you to see things differently.

What was the right thing to do six months, or six years, ago might not be the right thing to do today. Stepping away from the systems and processes that you have created can help you put your business operations into context once more. Just the other day I started working with a new client and what I saw and what they saw were two different things. After a short conversation we listed out a raft of improvements because they had just gotten used to working in a certain way, without ever lifting their heads up to see if it was still the right thing to do.

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Over time standards tend to degrade. Without constantly referring to an agreed standard it is quite common for little things to get missed out from a process. Over time these small downward tweaks add up and can take your business results off course. Standing back and gauging where you are can make a welcome change, especially if you can ‘put your house in order’ with just a couple of small changes. This is why the sustain element of 5S is such an important element; sometimes you just need to step back and take a look at the wider picture.

So, when was the last time that you took a time out (even just for a minute or two) and looked at what you were doing as a business? Does it look right to you? If you have no grumbles then carry on, you’re doing well. And if you have a few tweaks to make then add them to your action plan and get them resolved.

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Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.