Transitions… Opportunity or Cost?

I have been enjoying the Olympics – especially the downhill skiing like Super-G. The amazing transitions that racers make as they fly down the course clearly take tremendous energy and consume critical fractions of time. The skiers who minimize unnecessary transitions and execute the necessary ones most effectively are the ones that win. On the other hand, it doesn’t take much of an error to cost the race.
All transitions require time and energy; from getting up in the morning to being interrupted or distracted while doing a project. Think of how many transitions occur in the course of your daily business operations. What might you gain if unnecessary ones were eliminated or reduced and necessary ones were significantly improved? For instance…
Are you or your experienced employees having to unexpectedly ‘transition’ because you get interrupted with questions that have been asked before and will be asked again? Save some of that time and energy by:

  • Documenting your accumulated knowledge and making it widely available
  • Developing simple process outlines and flow charts
  • Creating checklists for common activities – traditional ‘task completion checklists’ as well as ‘thinking checklists’ that help people consider important aspects of what they are doing
  • Maintaining a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that provide guidance and direction for common issues

Do you or your staff ‘transition’ information manually from your main system to some other software tool like Excel so you can analyze it better? Consider these options:

  • Talk with your software vendor. Chances are good that there is more capability in your existing system than you are currently using
  • Use connectivity tools already built in to Excel, Word (and many other applications) to ‘link’ directly to the information in your main system (technical term: ODBC – Open Data Base Connectivity)
  • If your existing system doesn’t have any custom report writing capability, there are third-party tools that will help you get what you want directly from your database (Crystal Reports is a common one)

There are many other examples where reducing or improving transitions will pay off in terms of more time and money (not to mention peace of mind). Things like…

  • The flow of any information, in any form, as it transitions from one group or department to another
  • The transitioning of customers from the sales process to production, support, accounting, etc.
  • Getting an employee transitioned from being brand new to being knowledgeable and capable

This isn’t rocket science (or Super-G). It is a matter of identifying the opportunities, prioritizing initiatives and then just getting it done.
Related Posts:

The Benefits of Operational Alignment
The Problem with Friction… (Operationally Speaking)

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