How To Stop Inefficiency From Sinking Your Business

"It works well enough for now," should never be an excuse for remaining with inefficient processes. Adaptable companies take more risks and spend more time innovating than those who content themselves with subpar processes — but they also tend to survive longer.

Efficiency Demands Engagement

The new protocols for communication were effective. However, they might not have been if the disparate locations involved had been less willing to embrace change and break out of their geographically-distinct bubbles. Worker engagement fuels business success just as much as disengagement prompts business failure. Business leaders can outline detailed communication plans all day, but their efforts will come to nothing if their employees opt to isolate themselves within their teams.

When employees or teams are “siloed,” they have reservations about sharing information with those outside of their department and tend to keep important details to themselves. This closed-off perspective tends to form in companies that already have significant problems engaging their employee base. The business might, for example, lack a unifying vision or struggle with a backbiting-prone office culture. Ironically, a “Silo Mentality” could even develop as the result of employees’ cynicism over company-wide inefficiencies.

Whatever the cause, this closed-off atmosphere tends to hamstring any efficiency that does remain, lower morale, and sour company culture. If a business gives in to its cultural flaws and allows its teams to withdraw into silos, it will not be able to support internal communications or function efficiently as a whole. It falls to the central leadership to shatter the silos, re-engage team members, and build more effective channels for interdepartmental communications.

The Perfect Process Doesn’t Exist

There is no stopping point for improvement and innovation. Business needs shift, market conditions alter, and technological capabilities inevitably improve; processes need to evolve in response. If they don’t, businesses risk falling into corporate inflexibility and becoming, as entrepreneur Thomas Kim puts it, companies “that perform reasonably well and are completely dysfunctional.”

Old habits are reassuring in the business world, even as they hinder a company’s ability to remain competitive in an ever-evolving market. To quote business writer Drew Hansen on the matter: “Stability is rewarded. Change not only threatens to disrupt the current business but has the potential to lead to disaster. As a result, organizations continue to do as they’ve always done, even when it seems irrational to do so.”

Change comes part and parcel with business development. The processes I put into place for the elevator manufacturer were undoubtedly more efficient than their predecessors, but I never expected them to stay the same forever. When I returned to the industry years later, I found that the sales-to-delivery process I had built was not only still in place at the company, but it had also spread across the industry and undergone some significant changes in my absence. It needed to change and expand — and I was glad that it had.

“It works well enough for now,” should never be an excuse for remaining with outmoded processes. Adaptable companies take more risks and spend more time innovating than those who content themselves with subpar processes — but they also tend to survive longer. A company that can nimbly adapt to new circumstances will thrive; those that find themselves bogged down in efficiency-draining protocols will inevitably sink into failure.

Read more: How Your Corporate Culture Is Leaving Money On The Table

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