cropped image of a doctor holding an appleI recently made a visit to a wellness facility here in Dallas that touts how much better it is to focus on preventative lifestyle choices vs. reacting to problems that may come up later. The doctor said I was in the 3% of people that strive for preventative care vs. dealing with problems later in life as they arise. The key point is that you delay your gratification (in the form of a longer, better life) by making day-to-day choices that lead to long-term health. While I certainly make no claims to never doing “bad” things, my visit at least raised my awareness about the specific things I can do in terms of diet, exercise and stress management. I think the same principles can be applied to several aspects of running a business, but I’ll focus on the 2 that I think are most relevant: Operations and IT.

Operations: Used broadly, “operations” is all about dealing with the day-to-business of a company. This could be running a call center, managing a warehouse or operating a manufacturing facility. Basically, these are the types of functions where if people don’t show up for work, the business could grind to a halt.

The most specific example of being preventative is, as the name suggests, preventative maintenance in a manufacturing operation. Investing the time now to replace parts, clean equipment, maintain fluid levels etc. will pay dividends in fewer unexpected breakdowns. All too often this is sacrificed to meet near term objectives. In a non-manufacturing environment (for example a call center) time invested in developing and executing consistent processes, management reporting and training will pay off. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and react, but you’ll likely be constantly fighting fires and reacting to things as they come at you.

IT: Similar to operations, the IT shop can be a hotbed of reactionary activity if disciplined steps to avoid problems are not taken. Loose requirements, undocumented specifications and inconsistent processes will certainly drive downstream headaches. The number of bugs that have to be fixed will increase, the business will be unhappy with the level of service IT provides and there may even be catastrophic errors with copying databases, managing data or even dealing with power outages.

The kick-the-can down the road method is an easy path to take, but it will eventually cause much more pain and cost more in the long term than being preventative. Strive to be the “3%” and take control of your future.