Do better, or eradicate your worst?
Harder, better, faster, stronger, do more, be more, develop yourself - I'm getting tired just listing these messages that we're battered with daily.
There's genuine value and merit in self, system and process improvement, but most people don't even consider the most important part of the equation - negative outputs. By decreasing your negative outputs, and making the worst that you're capable of better, you will exponentially improve your outputs and see rapid overall improvements.
All of your positive outputs
(All of your negative outputs * 10)
Balance of outputs
As you can see, your negative outputs carry a much heavier weighting. After all, a chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.
To quote another phrase - 'One negative review erases 100 good ones'. While the maths might not be exact, there is certainly some real sense in this.
This concept doesn't just apply to reviews, this concept applies to almost every output everywhere in personal and business dealings.
How can we put this knowledge to good use though?
- You have fantastic products and provide fast delivery that your customers love. You even have a great website which generates many leads via phone calls. This is all great. What would the impact be if all of the those leads were directed through a highly volatile person with poor phone manner? Probably not a good overall outcome I'm guessing.
Removing this person and replacing them with someone who gives even a consistently OK customer experience would make far more of an impact on sales than improving the website further or speeding up delivery. It would be a lot cheaper too.
- What impact would removing the goalkeeper have on a soccer team? Even the very best team can't continually win without a good goalkeeper.
- You have a beautiful and spacious house that you're trying to sell, and yet the front door is broken, making the entrance unsightly and difficult and dangerous to enter. Would you fix it?
While the door itself might only cost a few hundred dollars, I can guarantee that devalues the house by far, far more in the mind of potential buyers.
- Most Golf tournaments are decided by a margin of 1 or 2 shots out of a total score of about 270. To shoot lower scores and win tournaments, golfers don't practice making holes-in-one, they practice their consistency and aim to eradicate their worst shots so that they don't undo 17 other great holes (or 63 other holes in the case of a tournament) with one terrible one. One terrible shot has the potential to cost several strokes. A par every hole (4) will yield a consistently better result than birdie (3), triple bogey (7), par (4), bogey (5), birdie (3) etc.
Next time you're looking to upgrade, improve or maximise an output, ask yourself:
"What's the worst that we're capable of outputting and how can we improve or eradicate that?".
If you're feeling bold and are interested in changing things, ask your team as well.
If you need simpler versions of the question, it could be "what's something that we do that our customers don't like?" or "what's something we regularly do inefficiently?".
Once you have the answers, empower a team member to fix it or take the time yourself to stop and see if you can improve or remove that part of the process altogether.