I have been learning a bit about business strategy and trade offs in my Supply Chain management class this semester. We learned that a lot of companies ignore strategy and just work on being operationally efficient instead.
Operationally efficient: when you work harder to get better at what you already do; like answer more phone calls, or take more payments, or submit paperwork with fewer errors. You can measure all of those things, they are tangible - you either hit your goal or you didn't.
For companies, it is easier to focus on the tangible measures than making a decision on where you want to take your business in the future (aka strategy.) The problem with becoming operationally efficient is that at some point you will make all the improvements possible and need to decide WHAT'S NEXT??? This is called hitting the productivity frontier. I snapped a photo of my notes from class below. Once you hit the curve, this is where you have to make a trade off. Your business can expand, create another product, offer another service, decide to sell, or move to another region just to name a few options.
Reading through this - it is starting to sound quite dry. This is how I try to stay interested: while I am daydreaming in class, I like to apply this very "businessy" language to my real life. Here is my comparison. I try hard to be operationally efficient day to day by sticking to a schedule for the kids drop off, squeezing in a gym run during lunch at least once a week, and getting gas at the same time I am out for groceries.
Just like in business though - there are only so many things I can do to become more operationally efficient. At some point we need to start making decisions about what is the most important way to spend time. Here are some of the real life trade offs I have made in the last 30 days:
- helping with the kids bed time routine vs. going to my evening MBA class
- writing blog posts vs. studying for class
- watching any TV vs. getting my butt to the gym
I am sure this is all pretty geeky (I am a self aware dork at heart.) I do find it valuable to reflect on my goals and whether I am truly making any progress on them or not. To be honest, I have it pretty easy right now with the MBA. My classes are chosen for me every semester and I just need to attend class and do my homework - no need for a lot of thought here. Once that is finished though, life will get tougher because I will have to make some REAL decisions about what comes next.
I hoping that these posts will help me figure it all out :) Feel free to send over any advice - I could certainly use it!