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5 things about Business Improvements I wish I knew when I started

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The global lockdown has been in place for what feels like an eternity now but is in fact just a few weeks. Luckily, there is finally a small glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Presidents and Prime Ministers are starting to talk about slowly reviving their industries and business. While the news briefings begin to sound more positive by the day, we should not lose sight of the fact times will continue to be tough. There is no magical overnight solution to the world’s economic problems, and recession is almost inevitable.

In these troublesome times, businesses must fight to survive. Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the “Survival of the fittest” principle is more relevant today than ever, manifesting itself in the shape of the global economy. Only the smartest, adaptable, and experienced businesses will survive.

Many will turn to Google for their Business Improvement advice. This is great if you just want to read some low quality, SEO optimized tips, used to drive traffic to mediocre webpages. To become a real fighter; however, you need an experienced leader, like a King going into battle.

So, let me help you take those first fighting steps, and use my experience to help your business progress from the economic turmoil to become not just a survivor but a front runner in the fourth industrial revolution. There is no doubting, the journey will be tough, but working together we will succeed!

In this article, I share some of my personal experiences and lessons learned from my early days of Business Improvement. These tips and tricks make the difference between merely winning the battle and winning the war!

1 – Engage employees from the beginning

Not Invented Here syndrome is a problem all leaders will experience whatever the industry. As humans, we are programmed to resist change. As intelligent human beings, we have a natural urge to be in control. If someone comes along and tries to tell us to do something new, we will resist, regardless of how obvious it may be that it is a good thing to do.

Entering any workplace (particularly as a young consultant) and trying to tell experienced workers how they could do their job better will never go down well. To effect effective change, you must engage and make friends with all stakeholder’s whatever level they are in the organisation. This starts at the door; the most important person to impress is the receptionist. They will undoubtedly be gossiping about you by the coffee machine.

For any system or process to succeed, it must be owned by the team that uses it. Engaging the workers and users to understand their current process and coaching them into discovering better ways themselves will produce a much more successful outcome. This can be achieved through a combination of coaching, brainstorming, away days (visit another business that has recently implemented change), role play, and prototypes. 

The effects of your improvements will affect the whole business. Make sure you empower the teams to become leaders and drive change throughout the business.

Never forget – bring a box of chocolates for the team on their go-live or rollout day. They will forever be on your team!

2 – Plan the work and work the plan

“Plan the work and work the plan” has been attributed to many high-profile people, and today we add one more – Shivendra!

Imagine putting 20 builders in a field with a few tools and some materials. “Build me a house,” you say. What do you think you will come back to 6 months later? That’s right, probably a bunch of guys sat where they were 6 months ago.

Without a plan, you will never succeed.

As a very minimum, you need to understand the goals of the project clearly. For a business improvement project, this may be a case of improving a particular KPI. Before you begin, you must clearly understand how the existing process is performing. Benchmark the current performance, set the target for the improvement, then create a proper clear plan as to how to achieve it. This must include all of the resources, tools, materials, and external resources. In 2020, an Agile methodology is well suited to this kind of project.

If you need any help, I am always here to help progress your project and turn your paper to profit.

3 – There is no I in team

Every business improvement project is a collection of ideas that develop with the project. No one person can ever claim the idea as their own. Your job as a leader is to provide the seeds that help ideas develop. If the team own the idea, they will believe in it and want it to succeed. If they think it’s being forced upon them, they will automatically be invested in its failure.

A good leader will help to build and promote successful teams. So, next time you work with a group, help them drop the I’s and grow the team.

4 – Simple, clear, communication

Keep direct, open channels with all stakeholders. Do not allow toxic energy to infect your project. Gossip, mistrust, and fear of the unknown can all lead to failure.

Make sure you have clear, direct communication with all levels. If there is a problem, discuss it either in person on the phone to make sure there are no bad feelings, then follow up the solution in an email.

During team meetings, discuss the progress of the project so that everyone knows what is happening. Minute these meetings and distribute to all attendees before final formal circulation. This makes the whole team accountable and prevents anyone from claiming not to know about what is happening.

When producing minutes, use a simple, clear, familiar template form. Do not record unnecessary details. Remember, minutes are meant to be a clear summary of any decisions made and actions. Do not attempt to make a verbose record of every word said.

Clear communication will help build your reputation is business. 

5 – Simplify everything

KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid. This phrase has never been truer than in the world of business improvement. Many leaders believe they should justify their existence by developing the most complicated, mind-boggling processes, and impenetrable documentation. If this is your style, quit now, in any other industry you would probably be classed as a fraudster.

Improvements = Increase in performance

If the workers perform a task in three steps, adding ten more is not an “improvement”.

When planning a project, break it down into small manageable phases that show continuing improvement. Your project should progress, not fall.


Over the coming months, Business Improvements will impact the global economy to the tune of trillions of $. While this happens, new areas will be identified and discovered.

What does that mean?

There is always scope for improvement. Every organization and leader recognizes the importance of business improvement, and everyone can see it as essential to maintaining profitability, competitiveness, and attractiveness for employment. In these uncertain times, improvements need to be made quickly. Make sure you are at the forefront of driving that improvement.

Authors note

In my early days, I performed a lot of trial and error to discover the real-world things they don’t teach you in the classroom. With this knowledge, I have made 7 figure savings for the organizations I have worked with.

So, here I am sharing my knowledge with you. Please take on board the above points to achieve your business improvement success and progress to the next level.

Shivendra Kumar is the founder and director of Shivendra & Co, a business improvement consultancy that helps businesses in the construction and infrastructure sector resolve problems, remove inefficiencies, reduce complexity and uplift customer satisfaction – quickly. His blogs cover topics related to business improvement, strategy implementation and innovation.