Business Improvement – A Lesson from Sports

Recently I had the opportunity to take a few days off from work and attend a golf school and it started me thinking about how we can use those lessons in business improvement.

During those days it occurred to me that many of the techniques I was applying to my golf swing also apply to business performance inprovement.

The biggest problem that I have is not remaining in balance during my swing. Because my balance was off I was unable to make good, solid, direct contact with the ball consistently.

Balance is one of the key issues in business as well. If we talk about introducing a new product instead of a golf swing the same principals would apply. Let’s take a look.

First, in order to get good results you need to establish what your target will be. No amount of effort will overcome lack of direction. For example you could hit a 300 yard drive only to find that you sliced (hit the ball to the right) onto the next fairway. In businessimprovement we decide which goals help us reach our target. As in sports, business improvement is based upon knowing your target and keeping that target in mind at all times.

Once you have in mind the target that you are aiming for you start to align your resources so that everyone is facing in the right direction. In golf this is called the setup process. It is interesting to note that out of a sample of ten professional golfers that only one could align properly more than fifty percent of the time. Most companies and people have the same challange. We all hope for the best, but don’t spend enough time aligning our resources to achieve our goal. All of the most successful business improvement projects I have been involved in had a clear vision of where we were going. In other words we keep the target forefront in everyone’s mind.

Now that you are aligned toward the target you start the process of the swing. The key to the swing is smooth movement of all parts of the body to allow the club to make solid, direct, contact with the ball. These body parts are considered the functional areas in your business. In the example of new product introduction one area will start the motion. It is key that this area establish the direction for the rest of the “body.” This might be the Marketing or Engineering Departments.

Once your swing is started adjust your resources to keep all parts of your body in balance. It would do you little good to have a very strong downswing if you can not lift the club past your ankles. If you think of the backswing as the development cycle you have to be constantly checking your effort to make sure that as you start the motion forward you had in fact remained in line with your target.

Now that you hit the ball it is necessary to determine the result of your effort. Did you in fact crush the ball or did you duff it. At this point you must make an honest evaluation of the your effort.

No one can expect to be a professional the first time out. There is a learning curve in all our activities. The critical point is to make sure that you monitor your activities to keep them in line with your target, at all times. Only by working on small improvements you will make the entire unit better.

Once you perfect your balance of effort you will find that it will take less energy to achieve your business improvement goals.

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