Last month’s blog, I discussed how technology has changed the way we do transportation, for better or worse. This month, I want to continue on that same path and discuss continuous improvement. Pope Francis recently said, “Let us give this wisdom to the youth, like a good wine that gets better with age.” You want your business to get better as it matures and the only way to do that is to continuously improve on the processes you have in place and make them better. Unlike wine, though, your business will not improve if you just leave it alone and forget about it. I was recently talking with a friend of mine about this and he said that with his company, the vast majority of its upper management workforce will be retiring in the next 10 years. What worried him the most was that the younger generation that will inevitably replace them, is not well equipped for change, they take constructive criticism personally and this could cause improvement to slow down. In transportation, though, I have seen the opposite. The average age of America’s truck driver is 49 years old. I think the younger generation can teach the older generation a thing or two and vice versa. We have the same problem in the trucking industry where the older truck drivers are retiring and getting replaced with young “greenhorns” of the road. These young guys may not have the same experience as the older guys, but they are much more tech savvy than previous generations. They may not be able to read a Rand McNally atlas, but they know how to work a Garmin GPS better than anyone.
So how does all of this relate to “constant improvement”? Well, for starters, as a business owner you need to take advantage of having a diverse workforce be it experience, background, cultural or other. Know that this is the prime time to mold each member of your team by cross training them with another person of different credentials.
Secondly, invest in your people. I read a comic today where the CFO looks at the CEO and says: What happens if we invest in our people and they leave us?” The CEO responds: “What happens if we don’t and they stay?” So many companies these days think like the CFO in this example, but remember investing in your people is more than just investing in the development of your people. That is a major part of it, but you also have to pay a fair wage, open up opportunities for advancement, benefits, vacation, etc.
Last, but certainly not least, look at each individual process piece-by-piece. If it takes 12 steps from beginning to end, how can we get that down to 8 steps? Some of the greatest, most successful leaders of all time, were industrious in their processes. This sounds like common sense, but many leaders look at the big picture and don’t see the individual pieces that go into making that picture. Removing true “waste” will always improve your overall process. Hope everyone has a great month and keep on truckin’!
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