March 02, 2011

Setting the Stage for Best Practices in Small Business

Part I

First develop a corporate culture built on excellent communications, collaboration, cooperation – These business practices have taken on special importance in the highly competitive, global business environment of the 21st century – they are at the foundation of business success today. If these characteristics are part of your business culture or you are actively pushing your organization in this direction, your potential for joining the ranks of successful best practice companies has a good start.

Why are these practices so important? They are about creating a “learning organization” the kind of organization that is sharply attuned to changes in its marketplace and can adapt quickly, the kind of organization that thrives in our technology driven “knowledge economy.” It is about gathering and using knowledge and information effectively; corralling, sharing and applying all of the knowledge and experience your employees bring to their jobs and acquire during their work day as they perform their jobs, from interactions with customers, with one-another - within and across functions, through their professional affiliations, and yes even from interactions with competitors. It’s about using this information to challenge the status quo in your organization to become better at what you do and what each of your employees do within their departments. When you reach this level, your organization is (or will soon be) working smarter and establishing a culture where looking for new ways to improve productivity, work better in teams, innovate products and processes and meet the needs and wants of your customers is the standard.

Where good ideas come from: " the collision and mingling of ideas"

You went out into the job market and hired, skills, knowledge and ability and you are paying your employees for these things. Help them to contribute to both the organization’s success and their own success. Ignite their enthusiasm and creativity by creating avenues for their participation in improvement strategizing. In the process, increase their job satisfaction and get an even better ROI – Return on Investment - your investment.

Employing technology is an essential component in achieving the level of communications and collaboration that will accelerate your organization’s development. There are tools out there that can be implemented to help your organization become a “learning organization” and they are not out of the reach of the small business. Many companies already have the rights to use such tools and don’t even know it. Customizing these to specific business needs is often affordable and well worth the expense.

JoAnn McClellan, M.S., SPHR

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