In a social situation, it’s always a good strategy to ask yourself three questions before speaking: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? These questions will make you socially successful, but they are equally valuable to ask when you’re making business decisions.
Since we’re experts in business storage solutions, we’ll illustrate this principal with storage decisions, although it applies to any type of business decision. Here’s how it works:
- Is it true?
As a business leader, you feel you know your business inside and out. You believe your storage space is adequate. Yet you see desks covered with stacks of files, and product boxes piled up in corners. What is the truth – do you have disorganized employees, or do you have insufficient storage?
Take the time to investigate the reasons behind the facts. You may indeed need additional storage, or perhaps your staff is just messy. Either way, the truth will lead you to a well-informed decision.
- Is it kind?
When it comes to corporate kindness, we usually think of the generous support businesses give to charities large and small. Another way to be kind is to apply green principles in your operations. If you’re considering, for example, a mobile shelving system, think about how it might fit in to your company’s green initiative. And don’t forget to look into the manufacturer’s sustainability program and their employee practices. A kind buying decision can pay you back in many ways.
- Is it necessary?
Business managers instinctively ask this question about every buying decision. But sometimes you get “solution tunnel vision,” applying the same solution repeatedly because it’s familiar. If you take a step back and talk to peers or consultants, you may find more practical solutions beyond the usual ones. For example, let’s say your business has grown and you’re feeling overcrowded in your current space. By talking to a storage consultant, you may learn that your current real estate footprint is actually quite sufficient for your needs if you change to a vertical shelving carousel (to use our storage example again). A outside perspective will often get you out of the solution tunnel and help you determine exactly what is necessary.
We’ve focused here on storage-related decisions because it’s our area of expertise, but these three questions are valid for any decision in your business, from sales to operations to HR. Ask yourself, “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” and the answers will give you actionable data.
Lean management techniques are most commonly associated with manufacturing and logistics, and not with collections of historic artifacts or centuries-old artworks. Is there a place for the new lean leadership style in institutions that are, by their very nature, conservative?
The answer is an emphatic “Yes,” according to presenters at the Museums and the Web Conference. Lean management relies on bottom-up processes rather than top-down methods, with the goal of maximizing productivity while minimizing waste. It relies on feedback to learn what works, continuously testing and improving processes for best performance. For museums, this means listening to patrons to discover how they use the museum, the museum’s website, and the museum’s other outreach efforts. Senior management solicits input from “boots on the ground” staffers to gain insight into what’s popular with patrons and what patrons tell staffers informally. With this kind of knowledge, directors can re-shape the museum’s programs to fit the demands of the market, without wasting resources on exhibits that the market doesn’t want.
Working in tandem with lean management is the agile workplace. The agile framework builds on incremental successes, and responds to changes in the real world rather than following a plan that may be based on false assumptions. For museums, this means testing a small program, measuring its success, and building on that success with a larger program. It means that new information should be acted on quickly, and staffers should be empowered to self-organize into teams to implement the changes required by the new information. Like lean management, the agile workplace aims for greater efficiencies and therefore lower costs.
Translating lean, agile management into the physical realities of a museum can be a challenge for facilities managers. Bricks and mortar don’t respond quickly to market demands and new knowledge. Nevertheless, there are ways to make interior spaces more responsive, adaptive, and efficient. One is high-density mobile storage. If a museum patron survey demands fewer artworks or artifacts on display, then the surplus has to be stored, but building out new climate-controlled storage is impractical and costly. A mobile storage system increases storage capacity by condensing shelving area, without expanding the existing storage footprint. Shelving compartments can be customized to fit collections of all shapes and sizes, and storage surfaces can be treated with non-interactive coatings to preserve items in their original condition. Storage space is used with maximum efficiency, reflecting the goals of the agile workplace.
Museums may be dealing with the past, but their management style can be thoroughly up to date. Mobile storage fits right in with the needs of the lean and agile workplace.
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