Where do you have perfect order?

Many cargo containers well-organized on a loading dock.
A well-organized system reduces the effort to go from start to finish.

Somewhere in your life you have things in perfect order. Whatever it is, it's not on your mind. When you recognize the need to do it (“it’s time to mow”) you have the playlist ready and it’s easy to click play. There’s no straining, you have everything you need at hand and you know precisely what's required to complete the experience.

One of the goals of Plant Financial Services is to increase the number of things in your life that are in perfect order.

Improvement in your personal life

For individuals, this might take the form of personal finances. As you become closer to the system of your finances, you don't have the luxury of ignorance. You're in the driver's seat and get to decide if your recent past should reflect your near (and distant) future.

As you pay closer attention to the system, you gain a deeper understanding of that system. This doesn't mean that it's appropriate to make every system highly sophisticated, but it's the type of meta-thinking that you must consistently apply wherever the results matter. It’s especially applicable to the systems that, when run poorly, have serious consequences like your health and finances.

A group of people clinking various drinks as a cheers.
One of the inputs in your "health system" is what and how much you drink.

Drinking your way to a better life

One of the important insights here is that you don't need to have the “best” system to get better results. You don't have to be a dietitian to realize that drinking too many sodas/pops/soft drinks will increase the likelihood of excess weight.

Increasing the sophistication here might be keeping track of what you drink. You can totally ignore food for the moment, it's about improvement not reaching the highest level immediately. Once you make the invisible visible (e.g., "5 alcoholic drinks and 5 sodas last weekend"), then you can realize that the outcomes you're seeing are a direct result of the actions you're taking.

If you change the way you drink (all types of drinks) so that it becomes aligned with your broader goals, then you can stop doing the laborious work of tracking it. There’s isn’t necessarily a moral implication here; you’re either getting the results you want or you aren’t. You have a moral obligation to yourself, though, to get the results you want whether that’s an improved physique, finances, or anything else.

If you're seeing the level of results you desire, then you’re done. You don’t need to make any other changes in this area. If you’re not then you'd move into the other factors that matter (e.g., your food intake). If your results are worse then they were before, then you can simply go back to what you were doing before and you’ll go back to the results you were previously getting.

Better comes before perfect

"Perfect" is doing this improvement activity on the actions that have the biggest impact, but "better" in any area is worth a lot. Practicing the improvement process makes a big difference. After a short period of time (call it a few months), you can drastically transform your diet from mediocre to excellent.

If you chose an area that impacts your day-to-day experience, then your life has gotten measurably better, assuming everything else stayed the same. When your life is better, you're more present for opportunities to help yourself and those you care about. You can give the best of yourself which is better than what you produced before.

Improving business results

For businesses, we might focus on the revenue generation systems like optimizing a website, your social media, or overall marketing strategy. There's a nuance here that's worth highlighting. Do you see your website as a revenue generating system? I'd recommend viewing it with that perspective, so you understand how influential it can be for your business. When one of my clients doubles the amount people who visit their website, they have doubled their prospect list.

If your sales process converts 10% of the time, then doubling the number of prospects you reach cannot help but add 10% to sales. It's so obvious it's often overlooked. It's so often overlooked, I argue, that many business owners don't even know their numbers. They're saying "yeah, we have a website but we don't know how many users we have, how long they stay, or what they do when they're here". If you can sell directly from your website (which your business should attempt to), then, by not taking the steps to optimize it, you're leaving money on the table.

If you don't have a way to measure it, then you don't have a way to maximize the easiest selling you'll ever do: a prospect who's selling themselves based on something you completely control, there's no pressure and your prospect can access it any minute of any day. It's beautiful!

Though, it doesn't have to stop there, the work Plant does can apply to technology or manufacturing processes, too. Understanding how to improve a system is what we do. You, our client, have the expertise to know the relevant boundaries of the system and our job is to question them.

A green and yellow dartboard with a red bullseye laying on a table.
Are you trying to move the target to hit the bullseye?

Random results are uncontrollable

Dr. W. Edwards Deming gives an example in his book "Out of the Crisis" that's particularly revealing. A simplified description is a funnel that has a marble dropped into it which falls through onto a table. The goal is to have the marble land in a particular location, like a bullseye. Someone who wishes to improve the system may decide to change the location of the funnel, bringing it closer to or further away from the bullseye based on where the majority of marbles are landing.

The insight here is that no matter where you move the funnel (assuming the table is flat, square, and the marbles can't roll off the table), the marble will roll randomly based on how it bounces. Any movement of the funnel may or may not cause more marbles to land in the bullseye. You can be sure, though, changing the funnel's location doesn't have an impact that you can control in the long-run, it's random.

Mistaking this random behavior for something that can be controlled leads to system changes which might cause the system to perform worse than if nothing had been done at all. Let's say the table is warped, so the marbles roll slightly to one side (to the north). If you, logically, move the funnel in the opposite direction (towards the south), then the marbles may continue to roll, potentially even further than before.

When you begin making multiple changes at once, you can easily find yourself putting in incredible amounts of effort with little improvement to the process. Imagine changing the table's height while also moving the funnel, when you're perfectly capable of adding walls around the bullseye. It's easy to see the problem in this simple example, but when you add 50 steps to the process and have 50 more processes in play, it gets more complicated.

A group of saplings in separate plastic pots getting ready to be planted.
The deepest roots don't start that way.

Plant wants to help you today!