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Coming clean with the corporate detox

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As the economic downturn takes hold, companies are looking at ways of making their business more profitable and productive.

I’m a firm fan of the corporate detox. I feel clutter, in its many forms, can take the life out of a organisation, starving it of the clear thoughts and processes needed to succeed in today’s business organisation – and making a company stagnate.

It’s a belief based on experience. After 26 years at the helm of a global manufacturing company, I undertook a corporate detox in 2004. Three years later, sales doubled and profits rocketed.

The age-old adage of “a place for everything and everything in its place” should be a business mantra.

Look at your company’s files. How much digital clutter is in there Ask yourself how much time staff have to spend looking for that small but vital piece of information on the network” Day by day, that time spent scouring on the computer eats into productivity.

Next, think of the working environment. A company’s greatest assets are the hearts and minds of its people – they need to be healthy, happy and feel prosperous to really contribute to your corporate success. A clean, fresh, workplace can help achieve that.

It’s not in a packet of pills or a green-coloured concoction – so how can a company start the corporate detox process?

Here’s my step-by-step guide to clearing out the corporate clutter:

Dig The Dirt

The first thing a business leader needs to do is free their mind, and the minds of all their team, of clutter. To do this, clutter needs to be identified and this question asked: “Where is it and what is it?”

Is it Physical” Take a walk around the building. Can you see it” How many filing cabinets do you have Look at people’s desktops, in corners, on shelves, under desks, in cupboards. Where is your clutter”

Is it Digital” Look at the computer network, website, databases, account coding. Can you see the wood for the trees?

Is it Emotional?  Is your team happy, and do they love their job When was the last time you did a staff survey, and did you get high team satisfaction percentage score

Challenge and Clarify

Challenge your team and your customers – they have the answers. Ask them what they think is preventing higher sales and profit growth. The answers might not just be down to the economic downturn.

Do a team satisfaction survey to will expose problem areas which need detoxing. Summarise all your findings and develop a plan to clarify to your team of exactly what needs detoxifying. Work with and support your team to make it happen.


Stop at nothing. Go for the corporate structure, brand, product range, services, IT network, supply chain, stock and people.

Dare to throw out (recycle) what is not used. The first step is to classify everything by frequency. It’s a good idea to do this with the team and to touch every item systematically. If an item is used weekly can it be brought out weekly” If used monthly would it be better located in a store If it’s never used, take the plunge and recycle.

When in doubt, use a detox dot.  If no one accesses something within a specified period after the date written on the detox dot, it should be thrown out or recycled. Go through this process once every six months.


The next stage is to find a home for everything you want to keep. Each item used on a regular basis needs to have its own rightful place.

It doesn’t just have to be about tools, think how much time you have spent looking for a pen, your car keys or a dust pan and brush” The neater the workplace layout, the more productive the team will be.


Making sure the work place is clean and tidy is essential. Taking pride in your workspace and feeling good in what you do and where you work is motivational; but beware, maintaining the neatness gets tough and there’s always going to be an excuse for why we don’t keep things tidy.


It’s important to audit, create checklists and ask colleagues to check areas for clutter and tidiness, and ensure that any highlighted maintenance issues have been resolved and signed off.

Quality documents, work instructions and flow process charts should be evident around the workplace, as should bragging boards, which display achievements, progress on continuous improvement projects and points of interest that team members are proud to share with their colleagues and customers.


This is where the continuous improvement philosophy really starts to take effect by driving change in working practice. This is the part where the team sit together to dream of how they’d like their working environment to improve.

The End Result

A good detox can get to the parts of a business other activities cannot reach. A good detox helps decrease staff turnover, increase profits, increase levels of customer satisfaction and sales – and make a company feel proud of their achievements.

Picture: source



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