hand_ToolsA great surgeon, a master carpenter, a certified mechanic and a small business owner all have something in common: They need certain tools of their trade to practice successfully. To be sure, the tool sets are different. But they are still necessary — critical to successful practice.

This section presents a lengthy list of “mind tools” for use by small business owners and managers as they practice Continuous Improvement in pursuit of Customer Service Excellence. They range from the very simple to the mildly complex. Nothing you can’t handle, though! As Michael Gerber points out in his excellent small business book The E-Myth Revisited, too many small business owners work hard in their business — but what they need to do more is to work hard on their business.

Successful businesses don’t just happen. They are the result of deliberate thinking and design by their owner and senior managers. The results manifest themselves in the physical forms of business systems and processes — how work gets done.These systems and processes simply cannot exist by accident or whim! The competitive landscape is too sophisticated. Those who do not pay attention to the operational details of their firm will not be in business long. It’s that simple.

The best way to design your systems and processes is by listening to your Customers, both External (Final User) and Internal — Employees who perform the work needed to satisfy and delight your Customers.In the pages that follow, you will find many useful tools that will help you design and build your processes and systems on a solid foundation of facts and evidence, not guesswork and supposition. Give them a try. It’s likely that they could feel a bit awkward in the beginning, just like a new golf swing feels wrong. But if it’s the right golf swing, your results will improve. The same thing is true with your Continuous Improvement efforts.