Do It Right the First Time, Part 2

March 24, 2009

Operation “Do It Right the First Time”
By Bill Harrison

It is difficult to be consistent if you have not created written procedures, checklists, etc. that guide team members through the process of doing it right the first time.

Every time there has been a major issue by not doing it right the first time, someone knew how to do it right; they just didn’t. Doing it right the first time normally takes a few extra minutes; at the most maybe an hour. When we don’t do it right the first time how much time does it take to do it over? Enough said. Let’s get whatever it takes to do it right the first time on paper. If it isn’t on paper you don’t have a system.   

Execution! Execution! Execution! 
We can have all kinds of good systems in place, and many companies do have them. But they are not followed consistently and there are no consequences for not doing it right the first time.

One of the first consequences should always be additional training. Then it is imperative that every person understands that not doing it right the first time will affect their next increase. I am shocked at the number of team members who regularly screw things up and then get a raise – a raise! Then I am told it is very difficult to find team members so we have to keep this person.

This is insane. Think for a minute. We have a football team and our receiver is lousy. We need to keep him because finding another receiver is tough? I want to encourage this person to go to work for my competition. He will get his raise when he goes there probably.

Our managers and supervisors must be held accountable for doing just that – managing and supervising. Too many are simply observing, and sadly not always reporting clearly to their boss what they are observing.

Observing and reporting are not managing and supervising! 
Managers and supervisors must pay attention to details and take action to keep us on schedule and budget. They must insist their team members do it right the first time – period. They must be the champions for the consistent use of our systems. This must happen at every level – especially at the top. When the top leadership is not insistent on getting it right the first time; it won’t happen. And remember – talk is cheap. Actions speak.  

Follow-up! Follow-up! Follow-up! 
One of our most important systems is the one that makes certain that we follow-up. What do we follow-up on? Everything! Yes – everything!

If you have something that is being done that isn’t important enough to follow-up on, then you don’t need it. Stop doing it and cut the staff who were involved in doing it. Otherwise, design a system to make certain that every task is being done right the first time. If it isn’t, we want a system to catch it right now. Right now is the only time you can fix it faster and cheaper.

Too often, we find out we didn’t do it right the first time and it is a history lesson. Too late to do anything but spend lots of resources to get it right. Can you think of any examples of this? How about last month? This month? This week? Today? Getting it done right the first time is simple; it just isn’t easy.

Starting an “Operation Get It Done Right the First Time” in your company will be a  commitment of one year – minimum. If you do implement it, what are the rewards of all that work? 

  • The best bottom line in the industry!
  • The most motivated team members in the industry!
  • All the work you can handle!
  • More family/personal time!
  • Time to be even more creative!  


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