I keep reflecting back on this conversation and I can’t help but think about the old saying “You are only as strong as your weakest link” and how true that rings in all situations throughout life.
I keep thinking about though is how in business people ignore this simple reflection to identify weaknesses and improve on them, especially in technology.
The Oxford dictionary defines a weakness as “The state or condition of being weak”. It also more importantly defines weakness as “A disadvantage or fault”
The first definition, although correct, I believe is limited in scope. The second definition rings true to how I see weakness. It can be anything from a personal challenge to an inefficiency in your business. It is important to keep in mind nothing is permanent and you can easily pivot a weakness into your greatest strength.
I always perceived one of my weaknesses as a tendency to throw myself into a project or goal and focus on nothing but the outcome. As I got older I actually found this to be one of my greatest strengths once I learned to retain that focus while not letting the world disappear around me.
Think about what your weaknesses are. If you can’t think of any you clearly aren’t trying hard enough!
A few weeks back I wrote on the importance of embracing change, especially with the fast paced technology changes occurring today. It is absolutely critical to continually reflect on current weaknesses in processes and practices, then look to honing in on efficiencies. It might seem like a small effect but it may have a huge impact.
The best example I can think of is the United Postal Service (UPS), one of the largest freight handling services in the world. They spent millions on developing their in-house driver routing algorithms (getting the assigned driver from Point A > B > C etc. in the shortest time with minimal risk.)
Now, what does this have to do with a weak link? Well, in any technology driven system the weakest links are always the fleshy meat bags performing the tasks (humans!) A traditional system like Google Maps on your phone looks at a bunch of variables including distance, time taken, tolls etc. and delivers the best route for you.
For those of you who are interested, the “vehicle routing problem” was first introduced by talented American mathematical scientist George Dantzig, a guru in the field of linear programming. I won’t go into any more detail but its essentially finding the best possible route in a large number of options.
UPS have taken this to the next level, making their drivers only turn right unless absolutely necessary. They considered accidents and environmental impacts a major weakness to their deliveries. Their investment paid off immediately, with the company stating it’s “saved 10 million gallons of fuel, avoided the emission of 20,000 tons of CO2, and delivered 350,000 more packages a year.”
Think about those numbers!! Another stellar example of minimizing waste and improving a process weakness is the McDonalds Corporation. We all know this juggernaut is king at trimming out any waste possible. A decade ago the company decided to make one small alteration to their Double Cheeseburger, removing one of the two slices of cheese.
First off, what a cheeky move! It literally says double in the name. I don’t necessarily condone the action but in a single year the company saved $279 million, yes that’s $279,000,000 USD by removing a $0.06 slice of cheese from a single menu item. Crazy.
Both of these examples are the high volume, extreme end of the scale, but it has the same impact on a person or small business as it does a large business. If you can eliminate a weakness and improve you have just eliminated that weak link. I mentioned last time about the weaknesses in my own business and how we have been able to minimize these.
In my first blog post I mentioned setting short, medium, and long term goals and sticking to them. Take 30 minutes out of your schedule and identify some weaknesses. Pick one and get to solving It as a short term goal.
What does all of this actually mean? Don’t accept mediocrity. I see too many individuals and businesses be ok with average. Figure out how you can improve and get about to actually improving!
- Everyone has weaknesses, individuals all the way through to multi billion dollar businesses
- Learn how to minimize or take advantage of a weakness
- Set achievable goals and stick with them
- Don’t accept mediocrity
Let me know your thoughts on social media or in the comments below.
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