We all waste time. Sometimes it’s un-avoidable, like cooling your heels in the customer’s lobby waiting to get escorted up to the decision-maker’s office. Sometimes it’s self-inflicted. Ever had “one more cup of coffee” in the break-room or check your stock portfolio during working hours? Sometimes whiling away a small chunk of the day can even be a good thing. If I blow a sales call, five or ten minutes of feeling sorry for myself somehow helps me get back on track.
Bottom line, though, we all need to maximize the number of hours we invest in executing the critical activities that lead to sales growth. That’s where the notion of a “muda-factor” comes into play. Muda is a Japanese word that means waste; something that consumes resources but produces no value for a customer.
The concept has been around for a long time in the manufacturing world. It’s the basis for “Lean Thinking” – a powerful business concept and a classic management book by Womack & Jones. There are a multitude of examples where its application has led to multi-hundred percent increases in performance.
Is it also a useful concept for sales?
How can it not be? Consider, especially, the guts of the definition above; “something that consumes resources but produces no value for a customer.” How much “important” stuff do you do each day that does not produce value for a customer? When you put your ToDo list together, do you think through which items will and will not produce value for a customer and prioritize them accordingly? Have you ever looked back at a week and quantified your muda vs. value-producing time?
Here’s how I looked at last week… I spent Monday morning writing a proposal and scheduling time to review it with the decision maker. I gave myself an “A” for Monday AM. The afternoon was spent driving and flying. Normally that would be a “C,” but I listened to over three hours worth of podcasts from Business Week and the Harvard Business School, so I gave myself a “B” for Monday PM. I scored each remaining half day on the same scale, then added up 1 for each A, 3 for each B, 5 for each C and came up with a muda-factor of 26 for the week. (Note that the lower the number, the more valuable the week.) Is 26 good, bad or indifferent? How did you do last week? (…and give me break since I took Thursday off to play golf with my brother and nephew.) What does your planned score for next week look like?
I intend to calculate my muda-factor for the past week and projected muda-factor for the next week every Friday from now on. I’ll be surprised if my scorecard doesn’t drive me to scrub out a bit more waste every week. That would also force me to continuously add more and more activity of direct value to my customers.
Sounds pretty simple. Maybe you ought to give it a try also…
Think about it…