For the last several weeks, the Business Improvement Group on LinkedIn has had an ongoing discussion on whether the old adage, “If it ain’t broke don’t try to fix it” is still relevant in the contemporary business environment. The full range of viewpoints have been put forth, from “don’t mess with what’s working”, to “don’t settle for the status quo”. The majority seems to weigh in on the side of continuing to improve as a requirement to stay competitive and survive in today’s economy.
Several important points can be extracted from the discussion. The first point is on the definition of “broke”. Do you look at it from the perspective of internal operations, or based on customer requirements and feedback? It would seem that many people who are satisfied status quo do not look outside their organization’s business operations at what is happening in the broader business environment with customer requirements and new technologies. As it relates to our industry, even the best run commercial print operations are struggling due to changes in customer demand and competitive technologies both which are driving down volume and price. The second point that I found in this discussion is that even in companies that understand the importance of change, many of the failures, (and new Coke was used as an example), have to do with not clarifying and documenting the driving forces behind the improvements being sought. Entering into a business improvement project without a clear understanding of the business environment, including business goals, customer needs and technology, is almost certain to fall short of expectations.
A Business Process Improvement methodology can be a helpful tool in deciding whether something is “broke”, and what to do to fix it. BPI provides a framework and structure for answering these questions, and is definitely still relevant to contemporary business and especially our industry, where both customer demands and technology changes are happening at a very rapid pace. Where is your business on the “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” continuum?