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Making the bright spots within your company shine

It is very natural to look for best practices when planning a transformation. We research benchmarks, competitors, leading companies from other industries, management books, latest technology solutions, and talk to consultants and experts. However, we often overlook one of the most promising resources of all: our own companies.

Why should you bother looking at your own company when you want to transform the way it operates? For two reasons: (i) parts of your company may already have figured out how to address some of the issues you need to solve; and (ii) your employees have been dealing with those very same issues on a daily basis, and they can often offer great insights on how to address them. Those pockets of innovation are called bright spots.

I recall working with a small service provider trying to redesign their approach to accounts receivable. We interviewed the CEO and the internal experts appointed by him, looked at competitors’ practices, and talked to three different financial institutions to finally come up with an approach that would work for the entire portfolio. We were proud of it - at least until we started socializing it with the account managers.

They immediately shot our original solution down because of the burden it would place on their already stretched team to retrain all clients. Instead, they helped us rethink the entire problem, leveraging what they were already doing for a handful of at-risk clients. This led us to segment the entire client portfolio based on probability of default and focus on the high risk customers. The new approach was much more streamlined, taking a fraction of the effort of our first design. And it worked wonders: just three months after roll out, we were able to reduce open AR by 80%.

When you find your bright spots, you must shine a very strong light on them. Recognize employees for the great work they have done and give them the opportunity to share their ideas with the rest of the organization. Instead of management having to convince the organization to change, you get front-line employees talking to their peers, which completely changes the dynamics of the conversation.

There are a lot of good things happening within the walls of your company - you just need to look for them. And when you do, you will meet employees with great potential who are committed to improving the way your company works without even being asked for it. That’s pure gold waiting to be mined. Are you ready to start?


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