Food for Thought "If you have the right people, with good, basic values and good work ethic, you can have a tremendous journey."

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Food for Thought 2 "The follow-up in my Food for Thought series, with more focus on my experiences with Six Sigma and Kaizen."

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June 27, 2013

Getting Results : Delivery and Dollars

Filed under: Leadership Skills,Motivation,Professional Development — Alec @ 4:49 pm

Some of the best employees I ever had work for me were the very same employees someone else thought I should let go. This has always been a mystery to me – I don’t know how to explain this other than maybe it is the job, or sometimes the employee versus boss chemistry, could be the boss, might be the employee motivation, or every so often it is just timing. I have also been let go several times in my career. I know there were things I could have done differently, but most of the time it was just either chemistry or the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, I always liked to think it was the boss just making a mistake (LOL). Judge your people for yourself. Don’t always take another’s word for it.

In my opinion, as managers we have a huge impact on what our people produce. This is a product of the power of positive expectation, the willingness to tolerate and even encourage diversity. The power of listening and involving leads to more motivated employees and creates a better work environment for our employees.

What do we want? On-time delivery or Dollars? Obviously, we want both. If I had to state a number of priorities in order, it would be as follows:

  1. Involve, encourage, enrich, listen, train, and fairly compensate our employees.
  2. Customer satisfaction numbers. Service. Quality. On-time Delivery.
  3. The numbers, EBITDA dollars, Cash Dollars, Ship dollars, Order dollars (in that order—percent does not count).

And, of course we want all three!

If we empower and train our people as well as understand the metrics in goals #2 and #3, we will have a winner. Let your people make the daily decisions that improve the numbers.

June 19, 2013

Leadership Skills : How to Improve

Filed under: Leadership Skills,Professional Development,Services — Alec @ 5:43 pm

How many of you think you are excellent leaders? How many can show evidence of being an excellent leader?

Being an excellent leader is like a bicycle racer who rarely has a flat tire. A small slow leak can be very costly in a race because it leads to lost speed and eventually a need to change the tire. A puncture is a quick flat and it too will cost the racer precious immediate time to change a tire. The worst situation would be a blow out that costs not only time but also can be dangerous to the racer if they lose control of the bicycle.

In leadership a small error in judgment can cost sales, profit and time and a major error may cause serious injury to the company.

Bicycle flats can be reduced by planning ahead and maintenance. Repeated errors or flats will cost you the race. The racer on the pro circuit may have a support team, but ultimately the racer is responsible. The concept is the same in business. Leadership errors can be reduced by thinking ahead, planning, listening, reviews, and goal alignment. Errors by the support team, whether known or unknown by the Leadership, become the fault of the CEO.

You can reduce your risk of bicycle flats by buying the right tires, doing research and hiring the right support team. Knowing your craft such as inflating the tires to the right pressure, training properly and communication will be essential to preventing errors. It helps if you miss broken glass and potholes on the course, stay focused on direction and are able to adjust your course quickly. These same thoughts apply to being a good leader; know your craft, do your research, train properly, communicate effectively, pay attention, and stay focused so you can adjust your course if needed.

Racing tires usually lose a few pounds of air every day and wear a little every day with use, especially the rear tire. In business, your team may lose a little productivity or focus on a goal. They may skip a step, or not listen well. In order to keep your performance level high, it is necessary for the CEO to observe his/her environment and adapt the plan frequently to keep on course.

Evidence of being a good Bicyclist is winning the race. Evidence of good Leadership is finishing higher than last year.

June 13, 2013

Motivation : Finding Your Path

There is such a fine line between Good and Great, Good and Evil, NCAA and NBA. Why? One right or wrong step may have consequences. One decision made or not made. Everything has a cause and an effect. Sometimes by chance, more often resulting from a decision.

As a society, we have a rough idea when certain religions began. Christianity, Judaism and Islam all have fairly widely accepted dates of origin. I don’t the dates as much for Buddhism or Hinduism but the point is : Why have some religions stuck? Some have grown, others stopped. Our decisions – or those decisions made as a group – have consequences both good and bad. We can be part of a decision that fall into success or failure by luck. It can feel like the more we follow “the group” we end up falling the wrong way.

We seldom learn or move in a straight line rather we usually move in a spiral pattern similar to a multiple amplitude sine wave. In other words, as we follow the spiral there are times we move closer and sometimes farther away.

What we need to remember, is that the objective is to find your own path! It is not to follow the crowd or group mentality. Your happiness may or may not be where the group is headed.

Think to yourself: Do Good. Practice Good. Do No Harm. Help others on their path. Do all you can do. When you help others along their path, you often discover ways to help yourself.

Now how do we do that and stick to it?

1. Identify the Goal

2. Have a willingness to go there

3. Take action

4. Expect results

5. Check results

6. Evaluate future actions

Stay focused. Continuous improvement in your personal life is like any kind of diet plan, exercise regimen, attitude adjustment or practicing religion. You must stay the path and be committed. You must work at it every day; you must believe in it.

You can’t just “sort of” pursue a goal or fix an issue. You must commit. Beware of the Pillsbury Doughboy Syndrome ( a phrase coined by Terry Allen ). The problem is the Doughboy and if you just poke at the Doughboy, when you push one place he just bulges out someplace else. In other words the problem doesn’t go away, it just finds a new place to settle – your goal is not accomplished. In order to succeed you must put the Doughboy in a box and not allow him to bulge in other places.

June 5, 2013

Finding New Solutions

Picture it : You are driving down the road in your 2004 Corvette Convertible on a wild stormy night, when you pass by a bus stop. You see three people waiting for the bus:

1. An old lady who looks as if she is about to die

2. An old friend who once saved your life

3. The perfect life partner you have been dreaming about

Which one would you choose to offer a ride to knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car? What a dilemma! Think it over for a minute and commit to an answer before you continue reading.

This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of a job interview. It definitely presents a variety of options for you to consider. You could pick up the ailing old lady and thus you should save her first. Or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back. And then there is that Perfect Partner – right in front of you! You may never be able to find your perfect mate again. What do you do?


The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer. He simply answered, “I would give the car keys to my old friend and let him take the old lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the partner of my dreams.” Bet you didn’t see that coming?

Never forget to think outside of the box. Sometimes, we gain more if we are able to give up our stubborn thought limitations.

Talk to McPherson Lean Partners, we can help you ask the right questions and think of new solutions.

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