I used to be a recruiter for management level professional candidates working within the US healthcare system. We recruited for managers and directors in several key hospital departments in particular, one of which was Quality Management.
Through my work talking with these high-powered professionals actively engaged in measuring quality goals against standards set both internally and externally for mostly for-profit hospitals, I learned all kinds of systems from LEAN process improvement (non-value add is waste), the Baldridge Award, JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations), Six Sigma and others.
Eight years later I am 12 years into the business of self-publishing web directories/magazines and providing web design services to a local market, and I am just beginning the process of examining my own systems, measurement tools, gap analysis, and go-forward process improvements. I need to point out that this process is happening in a business that is self-owned and operating singlehandedly with the exception of the billing and A/R processes, which are handled by my fabulous contract bookkeeper.
Through my involvement in the E-Myth Group Mastery Impact program - a one year business leadership/management/coaching program in a group format that includes international participants; E-Myth Revisited is a must-read book by author Michael Gerber - I am learning not only that I need to do these things like implementing a quality control program to ensure the success of my business, I need to change the underlying thinking and language of everything I do.
Today I'm learning to think strategically even when I'm acting as a technician. I'm learning that if I say my business is chaotic, I am pointing myself towards that reality, when in fact things are considerably more ordered than the 'great disorder or confusion'. Even the fact that I have taken one step back to look at the word chaos implies a sense of perspective that chaos does not allow.
Where I struggle in my business is figuring how to implement systems and forms of measurement inherent in quality control, when I am both the quality system designer AND the technician applying the program. I am honest enough with myself to know that I have become adept at 'lying' to myself about things I need to address, to the point where it happens subconsciously, thereby undermining every tool or system I seek to implement.
Strategies to deal with this myopia and framework manipulation I have discovered are:
- Gaining a clear understanding of what my customers' expectations are of my business
- Understanding what my 'promise is' and what happens if I fail to deliver it - QUANTIFY!
- Creating a Board of Advisors to whom I can turn for truly frank discussions of what is working and what is not
- Finding mentors with significant business PROCESS experience, preferably even outside of my industry - that way I am implementing tactical changes that are about business structures regardless of what technical tasks are happening inside it
- Talking with peers who also run more or less solo operations to see how they are managing quality
So I'd like to ask you, how are you monitoring and implementing quality initiatives in your business? What tools do you use? What courses have you taken that have made a positive (or negative) impact?
Laurie McConnell, owner/operator of:
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I heartily endorse the E-Myth Group Mastery Impact Program to anyone serious about not only being and staying in business, because that's simply a baseline of survival. E-Myth will help you understand WHY you are in business, and assist you with creating the underlying structure of thinking and processes that will enable you to truly be successful, whether that's growing your company, selling it, franchising it, or even finding a new path uniquely suited to who you are in the world and what's important to YOU.