If you focus on “Fixing” it will cost you plenty!
(Part 1 of a Series)
You have heard that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. This bit of wisdom applies to us as individuals, and it also has a lesson for today’s modern organizations competing in a tough business environment. The wrong Prevention Profile will cost you and the right one will put you over the competition.
In this series, we will look three Prevention Profiles and their impact on the company:
- “Fixing” is a too common approach to business that drives up costs and disappoints customers
- “Maintaining” is a better approach that keeps you in the middle of the pack
- “Preventing” is the breakthrough profile that results in lower cost, higher productivity and greater market share
Understanding the various symptoms associated with the profile levels will allow you to determine where your organization resides, and what you might do to improve its prevention profile. In this first post, we will look at “Fixing”, and we’ll address the remaining two in additional posts.
Part 1: The Profile is “Fixing” and It Costs You Plenty
An organization may focus on fixing problems when they occur because they operate under the belief that management energies and employee efforts are better used by “getting things out the door.” This results in higher costs (due to rework, returns and redundancy) and lower productivity. Here are the Profile characteristics:
Processes are considered slapped together and mistakes are considered normal
In the “Fixing” profile, work is considered to be simple. Little effort has been put into defining the requirements of the job and there are few, if any, detailed procedures. The knowledge to do the work is acquired on-the-job. Workers may struggle as they figure things out. Supervisors may have different preferences about how to do the work and this further confuses the situation. Costs will increase and customers will be disappointed.
Measurement is not important
There is a lack of routine work measurements. Estimates of how things are going are subjective and unfocused. It’s like driving a car without a speedometer. You can estimate speed by observing the number of cars you pass, but the police may measure your performance differently
Training is minimal
Training is a “one and done” type of activity. There is little or no refresher training. Why should there be? The work is considered to be simple and easy to learn. What could possibly go wrong when we assume people can do the job without any instruction?
Management is distracted
Improving how work gets done is considered to be beneath managers and executives. That sort of work is expected of first-line supervisors but no one ever really checks. Periodic reports on “work problems” are reserved for occasional meetings. Little attention is spent on preventing problems; instead the emphasis is on cost-control and meeting schedule.
Problems become the new normal
Internal work processes are frequently out of control in terms of quality, cost or delivery. There are dissatisfied customers, disputed accounts and billing, and a negative toll on employees which can sap the vitality of an organization.
Organizations that live with the “Fixing” profile are doomed to be non-competitive as they misuse their resources and lose business to more capable competition. Fixing comes with a hefty price tag and you cannot afford it.
In our next segment, we will look at a “Maintaining” profile and how that impacts the organization.
(Note: The pioneering work of Philip B. Crosby is the basis for the Prevention Profile.)