How to Implement Change: Start with How You Do Things

It’s a little bit early for Christmas (for some people), but as it turns out Santa Claus has some stellar ideas — especially when it comes to his methods of choosing who gets presents! You know what I’m talking about… He’s making a list. He’s checking it twice.

Checking the list twice might sound excessive, but it helps Santa make sure he’s not giving presents away to any naughty kids.

The same is true with your business.

If you’ve ever had a big business plan go wrong, you might be wondering what you can do differently next time before you get started.

That’s why you should consider following the Santa Claus method. Check your processes. Twice.

Here’s why.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

But if it is broke, fix, fix, fix. It’s vital to evaluate and repair outdated/broken processes before you move forward with your plans.

Why? In graphic design, we called it “crap in, crap out” — meaning if the artwork was terrible going in, the final product wasn’t going to be any good either.

The same is true in project management. If you’re launching a new initiative while relying on outdated or broken processes, you’re significantly decreasing your chances of success. It’s better for your business to update procedures before moving forward with any new initiatives.

I’ve seen cases where the new efforts weren’t even necessary because fixing old processes resolved the ‘problem’ the initiative intended to address.

CHecklists are an effiscient way to track processes.
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

How to Evaluate Business Processes

First and foremost your processes need to make sense. You can’t analyze data before you have a chance to gather it and you can’t capture data if you don’t have the right program in place to do so.

Makes sense, right?

Do you have your processes written down?

If your business includes repetitive tasks or procedures (e.g., how to handle money, how potential customers move through your sales pipeline, etc.) write down the steps so you can re-create the tasks over and over.

Do you — and your employees — follow proper procedures?

Following your processes is key — especially before doing something new. It’s all well and good to write things down, but if you’re not doing what you’ve written out as the “right way to do things” then you don’t have a good starting point for adding something new to the mix. It’s like baking a cake without the butter. Sure, you can go ahead and add frosting to it, but don’t expect it to be a cake when you’re finished.

You need to be able to commit to your processes.

I know. It’s hard to commit to doing the same thing time and again. We want to be creative. Some things aren’t intended to be creative. Some degree of formality will help you get through tasks quicker. It will also help you add more complexity down the road. If you want to be creative, make your checklists fun!

You shouldn’t dread any of your processes.

Of course, there will always be a part of the process you don’t enjoy (i.e., crunching the numbers, staying on top of social media, etc.), that’s only natural. But, if you have a process in place that is too cumbersome or complicated chances are it’s not going to get done and then your entire plan will fall apart.

So, if you are dreading starting the next big project for fear of failure, don’t. Just stop and take a little lesson from Old Saint Nick and remember to check things twice!

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Jen McFarland is a business owner, business advisor, podcaster, blogger, and project turnaround artist. She’s helped hundreds of businesses and thousands of podcast listeners make better business decisions. Jen’s passion is helping women business owners overcome leadership and technology struggles.

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