Seriously Speaking: Accentuate the Positive (Part 2)

In my last post (which you can find here) I talked about the old Johnny Mercer song, Accentuate the Positive, and what using the lyrics of the song for guidance in changing the dynamics might mean for your business.

As you will recall the Lyrics of the song are:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
And don’t mess with Mr. In Between.

In Part one I talked about some dynamics and concepts. In part two we are going to talk about using the first line of the chorus as guidance for improving business dynamics.

Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive? What a concept. But how do you go about that in your business?  While there is no way to give in-depth advice and step by step instructions in the space that I have in this article, I will do my best to provide a short list of things that you can do instill a positive dynamic in your business.

  1. Take a step back. It is very hard to identify positive things when you are hip deep in problems. Stepping back will allow you look at your business with some clarity.
  2. You must break your business down into functional areas. This will help you to identify things that are positive in your business. These functional areas may be sales, shipping, billing, production, etc.
  3. Look at each area and identify things that are happening which are as good or better than you expected. For example: Is your sales volume as good or better than budget? Is selling price as high as budgeted? Are your accounts receivable current? What about your costs? Is your purchasing department (or person) buying at prices that are acceptable?
  4.  When you uncover positive things happening, examine them. Really examine them to see if there are things that can be done to do even better in those areas. Sometimes, when we see things going good, we fail to look further at those areas for fear of making things worse. It is true that you be careful not to make things worse but that is why you “examine” very closely. What you are looking for here is the “why”. Why is what we planned working? Why are prices holding? Why did volume go up? Why are we getting customers that we couldn’t before?
  5. When you find your employees doing something right, make an example of them. Let them know. Let them know that you appreciate it. Charge you managers with the same task. Sometimes just a thank you is in order. Other times, a small gift card, or some paid time off, etc. are in order. This is how you go from having employees to having a team. This is not something that you start and stop. This is also not something that you can exclude part of the workforce from. Once you begin, keep it going.

This is a really simplified version of what you have to do. But, if you can take a step back you may be able to change the dynamics of your business by making what is good even better. Don’t merely accept good. Strive for excellence a little bit at a time. If you can’t take a step back, you will need to get help. The simple truth is that sometimes you can take what is good and make it better by doing little things. Don’t merely accept good. Strive for excellence. Remember, good can become mediocre very quickly unless you know what positives to focus on.

In the next installment of Accentuating the Positive, we will look at ways to eliminate the negatives in your business.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” – Lyndon B Johnson

Author: Patrick Cowan, CFO

I have over thirty years experience in Finance, Accounting, HR, and Business Management. Most of this has been at the Senior Management and Executive Level. I believe that small ideas can be big winners if the right dynamics are applied.

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