IDEOS and Managing a “Lean” Business

Operations Planning and Lean Six Sigma (concept coined by Michael L. George) are the keys to succession planning, profitability, and creating a firm that attracts both clients and the next generation of young, eager business professionals. However, creating a positive client and staff experience can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of the daily work — marketing, managing, servicing, mentoring —and negatively impact profitability. 

Most successful service-based businesses are implementing lean operations improvements that increase capacity and client profitability, among others. They are also proving that the effort is not impossible, despite how overwhelming it might sound. In simple terms, running a lean business means creating more value for your clients while producing less waste. That is, using fewer resources to create better results. In order to make operations planning and lean improvements easily digestible, you can apply the 5-stage mantra IDEOS™ to all areas of your business. Here are the stages of IDEOS™:

Integrations to reduce work: Integration means two software programs are sending and/or receiving data with each other. Integrations improve accuracy of data across multiple systems, lower human labor and are essential to stay competitive, profitable, and allow your staff to work at their highest potential.

Delegation through processes: Ideally, owners and executives should prioritize their day around four key elements: marketing, managing, servicing, and mentoring.  Tasks that fall outside of these categories can and should be delegated. By prioritizing your time in the key areas of added value, you can easily identify items that can and should be done by someone else, as well as encourage your key leaders to do the same. This enables you to work smarter and generate positive outcomes for your business.

Elimination of work: Elimination removes duplicate or unnecessary steps in your operations practices including tasks that are inefficient, ineffective, or repetitive. It also removes waste through excess inventory, duplicate files, or “green” business practices as well as automating work through the use of technology and integrations.

Outsourcing of work: Outsourcing is the practice of hiring a party outside of your company to perform services that traditionally would be performed by staff in-house. It is a great cost cutting measure and grants you immediate access to an expert in the field of need. While there is no limit to the role virtual staff members can play in your business, a long-term mix of full-time, part-time, on-site and off-site staff members will give your practice the operational scalability for two of the most desirable outcomes:  maximum profits and employee, client & owner satisfaction

Staff recalibration: Once technology, outsourcing, and process improvements have done their job, the firm’s overall workload will likely shift and change — making it the perfect time to reassess the remaining workload and redefine your team’s role structure. Use the Role Functions chart to identify who is wearing too many hats and who can handle more workload.


This five-stage mantra is easy to remember, share, and apply. It aims to increase capacity to service more clients, keep operational costs from climbing, and create a more enjoyable work environment for all. It also helps to:

  • Improve the client experience
  • Lower operation costs
  • Flexibly scale your business without sacrificing profit margins
  • Create a sustainable work life balance
  • Improve employee satisfaction


Download the IDEOS™ chart and share it with the team on a regular basis. This mantra will help everyone devise solutions to streamline the business as well as the staff and client experience.

Reflect and Prioritize

There is a direct correlation between culture (people), productivity, profits, and growth. In order to improve productivity, you need to streamline your business operations to maximize your staff’s potential and provide quality service that attracts more clients.


As you approach the project of leaning out your business, you may start to get overwhelmed. Stop and think small Kaizen’s (改善?), which is Japanese for “improvement“. (Wikipedia).  The work you are putting into learning new techniques and going more lean will improve the business and your life. Taking baby steps and celebrating wins is the key to monumental change. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Eliminating waste from your business will take time.

Please remember to add any new epiphanies and ideas to your Master Plan of Ideas and Initiatives.