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Cooper: Everything between intent and delivery is process

 11 May 2023     Donald Cooper 

Creativity and innovation are hot topics right now, and I applaud that. But, in the end, it’s boring, unsexy process that actually gets things done. Even creativity is often a process. Sometimes it’s just dumb luck or a sudden flash of brilliance. But, often, it’s a process.

Most successful companies have disciplined and consistent processes that deliver a stream of innovative products or services, well-trained and highly engaged employees, more efficient operations, consistent quality, employee safety, increased sales and an amazing customer experience.

Process is what keeps airplanes from falling out of the sky. It’s what makes a Big Mac exactly the same in Montreal as it is in Moscow. Process is what gets cars designed, engineered and produced. Process is what allows a hotel chain to know that you want a non-smoking room on a low floor, near the elevator, with a king size bed, foam pillows and a USA Today at your door each morning.

In fact, everything that happens between intent and delivery is process. As a business, you can have the best intentions for your customers, your staff, for the environment and for your bottom line. But without clear, effective and well-communicated processes, these wonderful intentions will be just that – intentions.

To quote the late W. E. Deming, the internationally renowned authority on quality and efficiency, “If you can’t describe what you’re doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

So, exactly what is a process, anyway? Simply put, a process is: 

  • An effective and well-communicated sequence of activities,
  • Supported by the necessary resources,
  • Designed to deliver a consistent, efficient and effective result,
  • To a specific standard.

Okay, so it’s not so simple. But that’s what a process is and there are no shortcuts. Re-read the definition above again and, while you’re at it, rate your business’ performance, on a scale of one to ten, on each of the four elements. Then, ask your team, “What needs fixing, or better training?” and then be clear on what will be done, by whom, by when, at what cost, with what outcomes, measured how in order to fix what needs fixing.

Make systems and process a priority in your business.

Here’s something else to think about: 

Business quote of the week: The two most valuable things in your business are your team and your customers’ trust. Anything or anyone that endangers either of those must be fixed or eliminated immediately.

Quick business tip: Do you know your costs and are you using that information to price and manage effectively?

Many of my clients do not have accurate costing information for their products or services, especially when it comes to understanding and allocating overhead or indirect costs. They’re making pricing decisions without taking into consideration all their costs and then wondering why, at the end of the year, they haven’t made a profit. Our profit is something we plan for, not something we hope for. Sit down with your accountant and calculate your costs accurately.

Then, start working on how you can be more efficient, reduce costs and improve profitability.

Solving two big problems at once. Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have developed a low-cost, easily manufactured advanced membrane that generates electricity as it turns wastewater, seawater or groundwater into high-quality drinking water.

The big exit: 76% of Canada’s small and medium-sized business owners want to exit their business within the next ten years, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business but only 9% have a formal succession plan.

Why it matters: small and medium businesses employ over 80% of the Canadian workforce and account for 50% of Canada’s GDP. So, it’s vital these businesses stay in business after their current owners leave.

Helping business owners exit from their business gracefully and profitably is a big part of my coaching work. If you’d like to chat, I’m easy to reach at

That’s it for this week. Stay safe. Live brilliantly!

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This HGO article was written by:
Donald Cooper
Donald Cooper

Donald Cooper has been both a world-class manufacturer and an award-winning retailer. Now, as a business speaker and coach he helps business owners and managers throughout the world to rethink, refocus and re-energize their business to create compelling customer value, clarity of purpose and long-term profitability.

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Home Goods and its accompanying newsletter - HGO This Week - covers the furniture, bedding, appliances, consumer electronics, accessories, lamps and lighting and floor coverings product sectors of the big ticket home goods market in Canada. HGO is also a forum for the dissemination of market research and hard-hitting articles on best practices for Canadian retailers.

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