The Business Improvement Network

Leap into Business Improvement and Transformation

By PJ Stevens

Skyscraper view

Every four years we add a day, 29th February as an intercalary day and we name it something special, a LEAP Year. 

Given that this year is special, and we have an extra day, in essence free, lets use it effectively. By far the majority of businesses and people will do what they always do, the same, more of the same, business as usual and so on. This extra day will pass them by, as do most opportunities probably.

But a few, and I’m hoping that means ‘you’, might choose to do something special, something different and courageous with this day. Remember this day is free, business directors and owners won’t be paying anyone a bigger salary based on this extra day, right? 

How about we all invest that extra day in improving the business, working on it, not in it, getting creative and innovative or identifying possible change, understanding it, de-risking it and helping the business improve. 

Imagine if every working person in the UK, for example, was given this free day to use their resources in any useful way they want to improve business, wellbeing, performance, systems, reporting, IT and who-knows-what? Imagine the possibilities that might come from it and the cumulative effect of harnessing all that brilliance in service of building even better British business and businesses.  

There are some 26 million people employed in the UK and some 5 million self-employed. Imagine for a moment the ocean of talent that exists? What if we managed to engage just 10% of this talent and create environments and space for them to innovate and improve collectively? The potential is mind blowing! 

The UK is often said to suffer from poor or low productivity. How about we all get together and solve this matter on our free Leap day? We could transform business and business exponentially, and therefore improve lives, communities and the environment with just a slither of the increased profits from such a purposeful exercise.

What if we got groups of people together from across different businesses and companies, to share knowledge and ideas, and solve business problems or exploit ideas through their collective brilliance? The results would not only help develop individuals in their thinking and development, but help to develop projects, businesses and industries. 

Now, I can already hear a bunch of managers moaning that ‘I have not got time to let people go floating off to work on the business’. The investment of time is free, it’s a free day given to us. So lets use it wisely and not just clog it up with the usual bullsh*t. If you are so time strapped that you need to swallow up an extra day, then chances are you need all the help you can get to improve the culture, leadership and productivity in your business, and doing the same-old-same-old will not help one bit.

Here’s my suggestion, business leaders get together and figure out ways to allow people to take a day to work on business improvement in the broadest sense, and see what ideas arise from it? 

We are in an exciting time in business with many opportunities – and challenges, too – and with change happening faster than ever it means businesses are winning and losing faster. I believe we, as leaders, have a responsibility to our businesses, the wider business community and our country to improve business. Those that take courage this year and work with purpose, will greatly increase the likelihood of becoming the winners and enjoying the fruits of success.

My sense is Britain Business – your business - has massive untapped potential that we are simply not recognizing and harnessing.  Taking this extra Leap day to let this potential free could be a defining exercise for business. 

Here’s a couple of ways you might like to tap into the potential that exists in your business:

• Simply give people the freedom and trust for a day to work on what they like, how they like and with whom they like.

• Get groups of people together from various departments or projects for a day and run an Open Space style session to target improving a particular part of the business, overcoming some hurdles or challenges, or finding innovative solutions to exciting opportunities together. 

• Create open facilitated sessions with other businesses, suppliers or clients to connect, share and learn together, and draw on the collective brilliance to improve business on a greater and wider scale, solving issues together, developing relationships, improving performance and value creation for the greater good.

This won’t work for the unambitious, business as usual attitude, or the ‘that’s not they way we do things’ brigade. Shame, but true. Undertaking this type of activity takes courage, commitment and a purpose that elevates people’s thinking and behaviours, that values and respects ideas, differences and innovation, and which understands that its greatest resource are its people who deserve the opportunity to be amazing.

So why not take a LEAP of faith, invest in your people and business, and do something special with this day in 2020. The time is free, so the real costs will be minimal, whilst the results could be staggering for those who take the opportunity.

If you would like any free advice on how you might go about putting on low-cost high-value business sessions such as Open Space to improve business, please do ask us at the Business Improvement Network.

About the author

PJ Stevens is an expert in organisational change, performance and improvement, with 20 years experience. He is chair of the business improvement network.

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