The Process of Winning Pt 2

business advice May 04, 2021
Value Stream Mapping

In Part 1 of The Process of WinningI shared my tennis court epiphany — winning isn't just about the trophy at the end! Now let's explore the elements necessary to win at sports, business and life...


Three Elements of Winning

Corporations and franchises know that fast, profitable growth comes from consistent, predictable, positive results, one transaction or project after another. This is the only way to create secure relationships with vendors and customers. These companies also understand the staffing and training requirements for rapid and sustained growth. 

What winning principles do these industry giants follow? PROCESS, TRAINING and INSPECT WHAT YOU EXPECT. Their winning ways are based on a written process that produces consistent, predictable results. They train their people to follow the process, then they constantly check to make sure this discipline is followed day after day. Process, alone, isn’t enough. It must be accompanied by periodic testing. Businesses that don’t implement PROCESS, TRAINING and INSPECT will struggle; most will fail.  


If you’ve ever watched the best golfers, you’ve seen them go through their “routines” just before hitting the ball. This routine is settling, and helps the golfer build confidence. Doing it every time also encourages a player’s consistency. Most start behind the ball, lining up the shot. Many golfers take a few practice swings. This is followed by visualization, and finally execution without tension or hesitation. One thing this does is keep the golfer from allowing emotions to rule. The golfer has a strategy, and a proven process. The golfer who does this every time will avoid choking, and will live up to his or her potential.  

Almost everything in life is a process. Most of us have a morning routine: getting up, eating breakfast, going out the door. It gets us to work on time. Running a business is no different. Every business has a process, whether they know it or not—but some have very poor processes. Many processes are outmoded, while others were flawed from the start. Many have good processes, but don’t consistently follow them. I’ve worked with organizations with stale old policies created for situations that no longer exist — yet the policies went on and on because ‘it’s how we’ve always done it.’ Such “sacred cows” must be slaughtered! 

In lean thinking circles, many of us have been involved in Value Stream Mapping. This is a detailed analysis, and “mapping out”, of a business's current processes. It looks at what goes into a process, how it works, and the value of the result. It forces leadership to examine each task and method to see if these provide customers with the value they are willing to pay for. Value Stream Mapping should help the staff identify those tasks and methods necessary for a good process. 

Most businesses I’ve worked with had fragmented processes, each for a different area. These betray a lack of unity and direction. They often conflict with one another. This leads to poor communication, unnecessary delays, poor quality and upset customers. Any good administrative workflow process begins with the proper flow of dependent events in the system. Quality control must be built into the process, so, at each stage, the recipients get a product that meets all quality standards. 

A good process should:

  1. Produce consistent, predictable results every time.
  2. Have simple, clear instructions, written out and accessible to everyone.
  3. Flow well from resource to resource, without unnecessary delays.
  4. Identify who does what. 
  5. Be visual – both in the operating manual and in practice.
  6. Be comprehensive, well-planned, and free of waste and inefficiency—and no sacred cows!
  7. Be based on proven methods or best practices.
  8. Be created with the customer’s and the employee’s happiness in mind.
  9. Be created with the input and buy-in of the entire organization.



In business and in sports, you may know the process, without knowing how to use it.  Great athletes spend endless hours practicing, and perfecting their craft. These athletes know without the right preparation, they won’t be able to win. But they also know they must execute. If they can’t apply all that preparation to the game itself, then what good is it? 

This is also true when dealing with customers. Though you may know how to prepare an estimate, can you sell the job to the customer? Do the people on the floor know how to apply the process to the work? Have they been trained to do this? Remember, just because you give someone a SOP manual, doesn’t mean he or she will be able to do every job in it. They might need a few lessons! 

These lessons come in various forms: outside training services, in-house or on-the-job training, videos, workshops, etc. Make sure your people have a deep understanding of how the processes work, and give them all the tools they need to execute successfully.

Inspect What You Expect

Testing and auditing are the “secret sauce” that brings it all together. I’ve seen many improvement initiatives fail, even in organizations with great people. Despite the dedication and effort that went into them, in most cases these initiatives failed, partially or fully, within a few months. Most often they fail because proper testing and inspection procedures are neglected. 

Testing and auditing isn’t complicated. It requires leadership, discipline, and a written test. It only takes an hour or two to type out a test. I prefer about twenty questions, some true-or-false, and some multiple-choice. 

Of the various auditing methods, I prefer this: 1. Identify the process’s most important elements. 2. Write an auditing form asking: “Is this critical task or process being followed consistently? Yes or No?” Your form may have as few as ten items, or it might have over a hundred, but all should be noted and answered in the course of an audit. I recommend frequent auditing, especially when new processes are being implemented. In a more stable system this should be done at least every quarter. Those who are engaged in the auditing process should see it as an ongoing coaching opportunity. 


Finally, the Process of Winning is this:

  1. Create good processes that are aligned with the entire organization.
  2. Slaughter the “sacred cows.”
  3. Focus on process, not outcomes.
  4. Be careful how you measure people, and how you define success.
  5. While it’s okay to look at the scoreboard once in a while, don’t focus on it!
  6. Don’t get emotional. When the pressure is on, stick to the process. 
  7. Training, training, training.
  8. Testing, testing, testing.
  9. Inspect what you expect.
  10. Most importantly, be disciplined… and don’t ever give up!

Small business folk are some of the smartest, hardest-working people on the planet. They shouldn’t suffer from the diminishing returns so typical in today’s ultra-competitive and ever-challenging marketplace. It’s not so much that they “care too much,” but they often work in hurried environments, where they aren’t given time to direct their passions sensibly. Care about the task at hand, and don’t worry about Aunt Patty’s smile. You might improve your process as much as I improved my tennis game. Once I learned to love the rewards of each step in the journey, I found my first trophy at the end. You can too!



If you're ready for a mindset shift and the support of a small business community facing similar challenges, our Limitless E Coaching program is the place to connect! With high-impact training, coaching support from Dave Luehr and breakout sessions with other entrepreneurs, you have the tools to find every reward along your journey. 


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