I’ll come straight to the point. In my view the pre-requisite for understanding what is happening in any business is to spend time with the “lads on the shop floor” It’s the first place I head to when I want to really understand what’s happening.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a service or manufacturing business. To me it’s not about Balanced Scorecards, fanciful strategy, big words, flash business suits and the latest gadget to impress, it’s about – Is my business working? and if not why not? and what do I need to do about it?
The “lads” as I often affectionately call them, don’t need a Harvard MBA, they have a Fred Dibnah approach that is refreshing and honest.
Think about it – the gossip, the inter departmental relationships, invariably the marital relationships with “her Ladyship” in the Accounts Department and “Sir” on the deck means that information flows faster than any BT Superhighway and don’t believe that pillow talk doesn’t happen- it does!
I’m not being sexist and certainly have no intention of proffering offence, merely stating what happens.
I have a huge amount of respect for the man/lady on the floor because often the view that they have is unfettered with office and career politics, they are invariably close to the Customer- the very raison d’être of any business and they mask, they fix, they cajole and bridge the inadequacies of the Company through loyalty and respect and pride in what they are doing. Don’t get me wrong the long hours and early morning starts by many an Executive falls into the same category but it all becomes a bit grey and dare one say it mushy compared to a barking Customer who’s been sent the wrong part for the umpteenth time and has spent the last hour pressing button 3, then button 4, then option 6, only to be told that “we’re experiencing exceptionally high demand at the moment and that we really do value your custom……………” well frankly, if you did you’d answer the phone….. NOW!
You want to know what’s going on? Get out from behind your desk – sit down with the young lady in Customer Service, go out on a delivery in the truck, pack shelves in the warehouse, go talk to some Customers – it can be scary but at least you’ll know what’s wrong with your business.