A Complete Business Development Machine

11. Issues and Opportunities

Why do this?

Many owners of small businesses realize that their employees have a strong knowledge of, and interest in, their jobs, how the part they play interfaces with and contributes to the scope of business, and even in the customers they serve. Some underestimate the rich pool of knowledge available in their employees. Few have an effecient method of accessing it, and even fewer systematicly cultivate and encourage it.

Issues & Opportunities, Purpose and Rules

The purpose of the Issues & Opportunities List is to drive continuous improvement in every area of the business: Marketing, Sales, and Operations.

  1. Create and Maintain the List

  2. The List should be available to all employees.

  3. Employees should be encouraged to submit ideas.

This brings to Leadership the thoughts and creative ideas of the entire organization, many of whom have wonderful ideas but never express them. This, when done in an orderly manner * generally proves valuable for all concerned. I’ve seen cases where the value was extreme

  • Marketing & Sales, Will it increase Sales?

      1. New Product lines
      2. Acquisitions
      3. Both at once
    1. Below are some general guidelines helpful in compiling the list.These should be shared with the team.
      1. Obtain additional customers or clients
      2. Help sell more to existing customers or clients
        1. New product
        2. New Service
        3. A combination
        4. A small change to something that already exists.
  • Operations, Will it reduce expenses?

    1. Use a different material or different part
    2. Efficiency
    3. Re-route a process
    4. Combine steps
    5. Run more than one job at the same time through workcenter reducing set up


These are a few examples of what can be accomplished. The interesting thing is that more minds are at work contributing to the improvement and profitability of the company, relieving some of the pressure of leadership to do all the innovating, in fact, utilizing leadership in a meaningful way to include the team in the growth process.

  1.  Reward

    1. Some small but meaningful monetary reward for each idea used
    2. Team wide recognition
    3. If the idea warrants it, a company wide “one time” bonus or  appropriate reward
  2. Company Objectives Prioritized

    1. The List should be evaluated, at least quarterly and appropriate decisions made.
    2. All items should be evaluated, the ones deemed valuable to leadership should be placed in the appropriate quarter. All others should be deleted immediately.  A lengthy list full of clutter become overwhelming and useless
    3. During the Quarterly meeting, the current quarter’s items should be, again reviewed, and either placed on the Executive Executive Strategic Action Plan to be moved down to the appropriate plan level, moved to a subsequent quarter or deleted.



  1. Some Rules Regarding List Development

    1. Think before adding an item to the list
    2. The implementation of the idea should add more profit to the organization
      1. If an idea costs $1,000 to implement and saves $100, it is not a good idea and should not be added, or if it is and this condition is discovered, it should be removed.
      2. The components of cost are generally some combination of::
        1. Cash
        2. Time (this is generally the cost of an employee or contractor, but could also include machine time or some other form of expense). The important thing is that all cost components should be considered.
    3. Communication should be consistent and timely. The person making the entry must be informed of the outcome of their entry. If deleted a clear explanation should be given, privately, it is a teaching opportunity.
    4. If accepted and implemented, rewards should be given publicly.

Section 1. Create List

Section 2. Rules to Add and Remove From List

Rules for adding to the List

Section 3. Meeting Rhythm Set

Section 4. Company Objectives Prioritizes (Hedgehog)

Section 5. Add to Objectives and or Delete From List