I write this blog as the rain lashes against the office window, and the streets of Leeds are crowded with people hurrying to destinations unknown all wrapped up in order to keep dry and warm, spring is here!
I have never truly understood why people undertake the ritual of “spring cleaning”, when surely you’d be better off reviewing your situation on a more regular basis in order to become more productive. However, everyone is different, which is what makes the world go around I suppose! So with this metaphor firmly at the forefront of my mind, I thought, why not undertake this time honoured tradition and look at how I can invigorate myself, and ultimately my business, but where should I start?
Ancient man spring cleaned for survival, as the harsh winter months abated, the nights became lighter and the warmer days arose after the long winter slumber ancient man would sweep out all the dirt and grim gathered within their huts, which helped prevent the spread of infection and disease, which got me thinking! What should I be sweeping out in order to ensure the business not only survives another year, but thrives?
Obviously every business needs to survive, no matter how strong it enters the year, its continued performance is paramount to its success, so focussing on what could potentially become infected in order to prevent the spread of infection suddenly struck home as my number one priority! Yes weekly, monthly, quarterly etc. myself and the team review the business looking at our strengths and weaknesses, addressing them as we go. However, as we are all very focused and committed to working “in” the business, who is actually working “on” the business? My new found focus suddenly gave me the urge to spring clean, to work “on” my business! As I looked out of the window the rain was stilling lashing down, when my eye caught the glistening spring blossom, which I hadn’t noticed just last week which made me stop and think, what else have I missed! So I reviewed all the minor changes we made during the year, which made me create a list of wins and losses and then with one sweep of the broom, clarity was formed and as the light nights and exposure to daylight reduces the amount of melatonin (the hormone which makes you sleep) in my body, I suddenly felt awake, I was blossoming with new ideas and vigour to lead the business forward into the new financial year with new plans in place.
The Chinese believe spring cleaning will bring them good future for the year ahead. They clean their homes from top to bottom in order to remove bad luck and misfortune and once the house is clean, they stop! They stop for a number of days in order to welcome good fortune back into their homes and prevent them sweeping out any good fortune that has entered their homes at the beginning of the year. So as my business comes to the end of it financial year, the spring cleaning stopped as quick as it started, giving me time to evaluate what the green shoots of Q4 had started to blossom into, before moving on to the next stage. The caveman in me had gone at the spring cleaning process vigorously, but once the cleaning process had removed the dirt and grime that had gathered on our business processes over the previous year, it allowed me to prune and nurture what was now blossoming before me. I was truly working “on” the business rather than “in” the business.
Now don’t get me wrong, if “luck” is your only business strategy then you are in for one rocky year ahead and if you are forever sweeping away the past mistakes without truly learning from them, then you are destined to make those mistakes again. If you don’t embrace the new, then how can you improve on the old? So spring cleaning is not just a good old tidy up, which is what I thought, but it is a true opportunity to move forwards, refining the wins from the year before, reshaping the losses and welcoming in the new wins. Recruitment is a strange game, I read the other week about a recruitment company who stated they have a 55 year old business model, how many business can survive with a business model that hasn’t changed for 55 years, which again made me stop and think! The fundamentals of recruitment have not changed in the 25 years I have been in the market, but they have improved over time and with technology, and as I sat thinking about this, looking at the Cherry Blossom on the other side of the street, a Porsche 911 pulled up at the traffic lights. The 911 introduced in 1963, its design has not fundamentally changed ever since, but it has been routinely spring cleaned with time as technology enhancements have been made available.
So I am not looking to massively change the business by spring cleaning it, I am simply looking to improve my own standings and drive the business forward by spring cleaning the business properly, living up to the English version of spring cleaning, which came in around 1855 “out with the old and in with the new”. Think the cleaning never actually stops, but without a true spring clean, how can be sure that your spring blossom will bear the fruits of summer?