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468. Standard Operating Procedures -- SOP

A good number of small scale units fail and never recover. The reasons are various. One important reason is the owner gives the manager instructions where he should give training.  When you give instructions, it is all clear in your head. The instruction often has five parts, at other times fifteen parts. When you ask a man to do two things, he does the first and forgets the second. Or he does the second and overlooks the first. Workers, managers are capable of doing one thing at a time while any work requires five or ten or even twenty things to be done for the result to issue. Observe yourself from this point of view, you will often discover you are like them. The truth is two-fold. First, wherever we have experience, we never miss a thing out of 12 or 15 items to complete the work. Second, in any new work, we always do one and forget the rest or at best two.

Out of long experience, one learns to do all the parts of a work without fail. Training removes this deficiency. SOPs were developed in the West a hundred or more years ago to avoid this difficulty. In our country, SOPs are unknown. A man came out of the swimming pool in a Marriot Hotel and asked the pool guard about a film in the nearest theatre. The guard readily answered. The customer was glad.  The customer took it to be a lucky coincidence that the guard knew of the film. What he didn't know was that in the SOP of the guard, one point was he should know all the films in the theatres there.

Take any simple work and write an SOP. You will be surprised that any single work breaks down to 15 or even 20 parts.  To be able to write down the parts of any work is an essential knowledge on which a flawless training can be given. In a company, there will be 150 to 200 functions. Should an SOP be written for each of them, the rise in efficiency will be more than 100%. A closed unit can easily reopen on that score. Of course, it needs to be implemented. No company that makes its workers and officers write an SOP and trains them in it can ever fail. A below average family can become an above average family if it is willing to accept this discipline forever.

story | by Dr. Radut