Size Up Your Team

A Page from the Lean Six Sigma Playbook

 By Chris Liebtag, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt  |  September 2012

Are you ready for some football?

From youth leagues to high school to college, pro and even fantasy, most of us are tuning in or showing up to watch America's most popular pastime. Fantasy football aside, a great many lessons are taught and learned on the field: teamwork, strategy, how to win and how to lose to name a few. 

The early part of the season is when coaches size up their teams by looking at their ability, or inability, to execute. Yes, there is external competition, but coaches have very little control over what another team does. That's why they focus on their own team and players. As you look at the players on your team, have you sized them up?  

You need to ask yourself if your team is strong on the fundamentals. Or do you have a group of role players led by a few superstars. Or perhaps a team of seasoned vets with some new rookies trying to make their mark. Any one of these teams can win, but they can also lose by not executing and not playing like a team.

Strive to Continually Improve

What's the first play in the Lean Six Sigma playbook? It is understanding that you are your first and biggest competitor. 

Continuous improvement is one of the principles of six sigma. To achieve this mindset, you have to look for ways, big and small, to not waste time, money or energy. Be your own benchmark. Know what you need to do to meet and exceed client expectations. Understand what clients want and how can you deliver it to them, not only in less time but in the format that works best for the client.

It's not enough to just be better than the other guys. You need to improve what you doing to become better than you were last year. The effect of that improvement can have a serious impact on the bottom line, too. If you:

process work more efficiently, you accelerate billing and collection. 

  • eliminate one sequence where you pick up work, put it down and then pick it up again later, you will see increased realization.
  • empower your team to eliminate steps that don't add value to the client, you can reduce work in process and increase cash flow.
Foster Teamwork

Use busy season deadlines to evaluate your team's performance on the field. Track it, measure it and score it. You can't improve what you don't measure. 

Firms that adopt the mindset to continuously improve do so for their clients benefit as well as their own. A workplace that fosters teamwork, empowerment and a sense of contribution and purpose is hard to find – and even harder to leave. When the team succeeds, your firm succeeds and vice versa.

Continue to improve your execution. It doesn't matter if you are early on in the season or not, your record will still reflect positively.

Lean CPA
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