Old School – Not What You Think

Anyone that knows me, knows that I’m a big fan of technology.  Heck, I’ve been helping companies buy and implement advanced technology solutions for nearly 30 years.  Of course, when I started, microfilm and microfiche were advanced technologies, but that’s another story.

I’m also a big fan of “Old School,” but probably not the way most people think of it.

My father was old school, but not in the mean, short-tempered, yelling at everyone to teach them to be tough way.  Not at all.  He was kind and extremely polite to everyone; with hands like stone.

My Dad taught me that having great fundamentals is the most important thing to a successful life.  I learned a lot from him, but a few simple fundamentals I remember were;

  • never let anyone out-work you
  • integrity is not negotiable
  • practice good manners
  • try to leave a place better than you found it

He didn’t like it when people would say, “The good old days.”  He used to say, “What the hell was so good about them?  I was being shot at.  There was no work.  When there was work, we worked hard for peanuts.  Good old days, my ass!”  He would get red in the face when he would say that.  I miss that.

He told me that most contractors get it wrong, because they don’t take the time to think things all the way through, which is why most of their projects cost more and take longer to complete.

He would know what tools we would need, the materials required, and when we might need an extra pair of hands.

My Dad’s philosophy was, “If you do the right things the right way, people will always call you back.”  For every job, I would always have to make sure the tools we needed were cleaned, oiled and ready to be used, so we wouldn’t have to make multiple trips to the truck, which saved a ton of time.

Oh, and I’ll never forget, “measure twice, cut once.”  Those were his fundamentals and they worked very well for over 40 years – still do.

What Does Old Schools Have To Do With Process Fundamentals?

You might be saying, that’s nice Dave, but what does that have to do with business process automation?  It has everything to do with it.

We didn’t have the latest, greatest, most expensive tools, but we took care of what we had and we always did the right things, the right way.  By the way, we always had repeat customers.

Most businesses I walk into today are walking right past the fundamentals of operating a business efficiently.  Are invoices paid?  Sure.  Do they deliver products?  Yep.  Do they on-board new customers?  Absolutely.

Are they spending too much per transaction, sacrificing the customer experience and generally taking longer to get things done, while using more resources?  You bet they are.  The problem is, they don’t even know it’s happening.  What’s the old saying, “Death by a thousand paper cuts.”

The problem is, these costs don’t show up on a P&L.  How would you know you’re paying 5x too much to pay an invoice?  Or that you’re spending 3x more than you should on annual software support contracts?

If you think you’re automating a process by adding another fax machine, or because you’re scanning documents to a network folder, or you’re OCRing printed email documents – you’re walking right past the fundamentals of automation and you’re dripping profits, like a bad paper cut.

Where You Should Start: Think “Simpler

You don’t fix the fundamentals with Blockchain, or artificial intelligence.  You fix the fundamentals by examining the evidence (i.e., data) and you look closely and objectively at what would have to be done to make it better.

It sounds so obvious and easy, but it’s not, particularly when you don’t know what to look for. This requires executive level support and input (i.e. vision and accountability) for it to be successful.

When it’s done correctly, the increase in productivity and the decrease in “exception costs” will be dramatic.

And, it will be across the entire company, because every solution will come from a similar vision and will have the same fundamentals applied.  No more silos.  No more fiefdoms.  No dependence on one person, or one group.

Everyone will be accountable to the same set of fundamentals and expectations – no matter who is managing the process.

If you take anything from this, remember this fundamental; “Measure twice, cut once.”

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