by Skip Cohen
I was out of town not long ago at a friend's house and there was the new copy of the Super Yellow Pages on his desk. The book isn't cheap to print and yellow pages ads certainly aren't free, but when was the last time you went to the phone book to find something? How many of us have hundreds of friends whose numbers aren't even in the phone book, white or yellow pages, because they only use their cell numbers?
So, why in the world would somebody still bother to produce the book - I guess it's still the standard with little kids when you don't have a high chair!
There's a great story about a little girl watching her mother make a roast beef. As she prepares the dinner, she cuts three inches off the roast and throws it away. "Why are you doing that?" the little girl asks. "Because that's the way my mother taught me to make a roast beef!" The little girl went to her grandmother and asked the same question. "Because that's the way my mother taught me!" she responded. Finally the little girl asked the great grandmother, "Why do you cut the end off the roast beef and throw it away?" The Great Grandmother looked at her and put her hands about 8 inches apart and said, "Because I only had a pan this big."
Don't manage your business by the exception. Every business has something they do because years ago something went wrong and they swore they'd never do it that way again. They put procedures in place to make sure they'd be protected, but times have changed and more than likely the problem no longer exists. Even in our relationships we have things we do because some time in our past something went wrong - so we develop a new "procedure" to protect ourselves. We swear we'll never get burned again!
The guys publishing the Yellow Pages are still doing it because they can obviously still make money on advertising. The "managing by exception" is on the advertiser's end, thinking that thousands of people still use it. The "managing by exception" is also on our end as consumers, because it's so rare that anybody throws them away. Every kitchen in America has a drawer with at least one phone book in it - yet, when was the last time it was used?
So, as you're heading into the last quarter of the year and starting to think a little about 2014, it's not just your desk that might need an overhaul. Think about your work flow and the processes in place to run your business. It might just be time to clean out your files of procedures as well as the files themselves. Then look at your website, your blog and your social media presence. Just like your workflow, odds are there's something you're doing that's time consuming and might not even be necessary any longer.
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