Are the People, Process, or Product to Blame? Understanding Which is Which and How to Engage When Issues In Business Arise By Henry Clifford Published: January 12, 2018 ⋅ Updated: April 15, 2019 Problems in your business generally fall into one of three categories: people, process, or product. Understanding which is which and how to engage when issues arise can make the difference between success and failure. People Take a look at your team. Is there anyone who doesn’t pass the “keeper” test? Do you have any employees who could threaten to quit, and you wouldn’t fight to keep them? Do yourself a favor: fire them. Fire them right now. You’ll thank me later. Take a good look at the rest of your team. Do you have the people you want on board? Are all your employees in roles best suited to leverage their strengths? Consider a few key points when hiring: 1. Select, don’t hire. The Ritz-Carlton interviews candidates an average of seven times before they’re hired. This slows down the hiring process and gives the candidate a chance to experience more of the company before making a decision. By the time employees are selected, they come away with the feeling that they are special and wanted. 2. Hire slowly, fire quickly. Hiring should be built into your daily routine. New faces shouldn’t come on board only after others leave. Consistently churn your bottom performers for the health of the organization. 3. Understand personalities. Resources like the DISC Profile (discprofile.com), The Big Five (truity.com/view/tests/big-five-personality) or CTS (ctssalesprofile.com) are game changers when evaluating candidates for different roles. As a leader in your organization, it’s important to understand how your employees mesh together and focus on coaching each person differently. 4. Happy employees are good for the bottom line. It’s been proven that happy employees beget happy customers. Happy customers tell everyone how happy they are, and you profit in the bargain. Shawn Achor does a great job of explaining this phenomenon in his TED Talk (goodthinkinc.com/speaking/shawn-achor). Happiness initiatives drive up employee engagement and cost next to nothing to implement. Process Custom installation companies have a tough time implementing processes, and the youth of our industry doesn’t help when we begin researching how to improve. Don’t despair! There are plenty of CEDIA members happy to share their experiences and save you wasted time and money. Align to these process tips and watch your bottom line grow: 1. Stop reinventing the wheel on every job. How many “best” ways are there to hang a TV or program a remote control? There’s only one best-in-class way to accomplish most of the tasks we encounter as integrators, but we insist we’re somehow different or special. Take one or two categories in your company and commit to standardizing and benchmarking against other top integrators. Your installation team will love it and profits will rise. 2. Talk to other integrators and learn from them. The best way forward is to join CEDIA and volunteer for a committee. You’ll make new friends and will learn a ton. The CEDIA communities online forum (community.cedia.net/home) is a fantastic resource to hit the fast-forward button in your business and learn from the shared experiences of your colleagues. Product I’ve yet to meet an integrator (I count myself in this group) not easily distracted by shiny objects. We love technology. The dizzying pace of innovation is intoxicating and it’s easy to get caught up in the treadmill of new product releases as a means to solve all your problems. Step away from the shiny objects from time to time for some much needed perspective. Consider these product basics in 2018: 1. Implement rigid product testing requirements in-house. Stop buying the hype and pledge to evaluate products yourself before installing them for clients. This one is hard. The day-to-day bustle of activity works against making this happen (we affectionately call it the “whirlwind”). In the words of Bob Newhart, I have two words for you: “Stop It.” 2. Refine your core products. Chipotle’s base ingredients are rice, beans, and cheese, yet their customers feel like they’ve gotten exactly what they wanted after each visit. You can make hundreds of different burritos with only a few ingredients. Pledge to deliver a custom experience to your clients while using fewer ingredients to deliver them. It’s a huge win for both clients and employees. Do you really need three different remote control lines? By looking at your issues through the lens of People, Process, and Product, 2018 will be your best year ever. Now get to work!