Do yourself a favor and copy the link below and put it in a browser and read this article about GE: https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/03/20/business/larry-culp-is-ge-ceo-who-would-rather-hang-out-factory-floor/?p1=Article_Recirc_Most_Popular
The above article about General Electric CEO Larry Culp is a must read for product companies, including those related to services. The two constants to any organization should be 1) what is important to your customers and 2) how efficient your production has developed – and hopefully how little waste has been incorporated in your processes over time. People think GE and they immediately think an enormous company and that it has nothing to do with my business. Also, they hear concepts like Lean and Kaizen and they think book smart and only applicable to GE size companies. This is not necessarily true.
Waste can come in many forms and does not necessarily just improve by itself over time unless a company is willing to take an ‘under the hood’ critical look-see. This has been often referred to as consultant work – which I don’t have the money to afford – when in reality it is the product of an open mind willing to evaluate things with an objective eye. Waste can relate to materials being used – material science has evolved enormously both in terms of cost as well as material qualities – strength, weight, durability, appearance, as well as cost. Old ways and methods, while relevant at a point in time, are usually nothing more than just old. Processes also need to evolve over time because materials, equipment, tools, and people also change. The layout of a shop can also be a product of time and not be updated accordingly as other things in the shop change. The GE example of a part that moved over 3 miles when its destination was only 165 feet away. Each company is different and must look at what they do to with an objective eye to determine efficient / wasteful and have the courage to make changes.
What is important to a customer is not the same thing as what is important to an owner of a business. They can be very different viewpoints and can also evolve and change over time. What is most important is to listen to what your customers are saying and appreciate their perspective. After all, it is the customer who has the money you want…as long as you have the product they actually want and it meets their needs. I have met numerous CEO’s who are only focused on what they view as important and believe they actually know more than their customers about what is important. That would be translated as arrogant and likely one of the last stops on the ‘going out of business’ train. Take the time to engage with your customers as frequently as possible and view value from their eyes. Your business is not necessarily all about you.