What Do You Have To Bury?

Vtwatflavorgrave_nuts So I’m at the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury, Vermont the other morning.  The last leg of my 800 mile "walk-about."  For me, Ben and Jerry’s represents the ultimate business.  If you’ve not read about this company’s history, it’s a grand lesson in living your passion.  These guys worked their asses off, had a blast, did what they loved to do, did what they were good at, and sold out for big bucks. 

New to Ben and Jerry’s since my last pilgrimage there some ten years ago (when my kids were still kids) is the "Flavor Graveyard."  There, they figuratively bury failed flavors like "This is Nuts," "New York Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge" and "Appley Ever After."  This is Ben and Jerry’s way of saying goodbye to products that didn’t work or outlived their usefulness. 

The Flavor Graveyard reminded me of a video I once viewed of a company holding a funeral for an old process.  The team didn’t want to let go of doing things the old way, so the astute manager held a funeral.  Buried the process.  Slammed the door shut on yesterday.  Not a bad idea.

So, I ask you.  What old ideas; what aged processes; what tired methods in your practice need to be buried?  Perhaps it’s time for your own "graveyard of old ideas."

Old processes die hard and they’re expensive. 

For example, one of my pet peeves is listening to opticians call patients to tell them that their eyewear is ready.  It’s an old idea that makes little sense to me.  After all, you know the delivery time for your typical job from your lab.  Let’s say that it’s Monday and your typical job takes 5 days to be delivered.  Tell your patient, "Mrs. Jones, we expect that your eyewear will be ready for delivery by next Wednesday (allow some wiggle room).  You can stop in and pick them up after Wednesday.  We’ll call you if that’s not the case."

What have you done here?  Well, for a practice delivering 2000 pair of eyewear a year, you’ve reduced the number of calls by about 1950 (assuming that 5% of the jobs don’t meet the standard delivery).  That’s 1950 phone calls worth of staff time (at just two minutes a call, that’s 65 hours of staff time a year).  That’s 1950 phone calls worth of tolls.  That’s a lot of savings.  And that’s also more time available to focus on the patients in front of you.  I say, "stop calling everyone…call only the exceptions."   

This is just one example of old processes that die hard.  Often, we focus all of our attention on what needs to be done in our business.  Start spending equal time asking yourself and your team "what do we need to stop doing?"   

Next time you have a staff meeting, brainstorm about processes and actions that need to be buried.  Then bury them.

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