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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December 17, 2014

Success : What does it look like? And how will you achieve it?

What does Success look like? For you personally and in your business?

The end of the year is a great time to reflect, and to think about the plan for next year. In our Kaizen events we always suggest that we spend 40% of the time defining the problem. Thus, this time of year we certainly must finish strong, but also make time for planning the next year. Good planning starts with the question “What do you want for next year?”

Suggested step number 1 is “What do you want the end of year next year to look like?” Take into consideration how many new customers, how many existing customers, how many fired customers, total volume, profit, cash flow, employees, equipment, productivity, and the list goes on! Don’t forget to also envision what you want your personal life to look like: health, mental, family, financial, spiritual, social, etc..

Karen and I have been working on our own Plans for 2015. For our business, we have enough statistics to project how many events, how many sales meetings, and even how many sales calls we need to achieve specific desired revenue. We set up a simple metric chart to track key indicators that help us predict and plan for the future.

I suggest that after you have identified what success will look like, you identify key actions required by you and your employees to make these goals happen. You should also establish how you would measure and track these actions.

We know that success businesses center around People, Planning and Processes. Try to include these three areas in your success and key actions model.

A Test To Help Weigh The Risks

Filed under: Leadership Skills,Motivation,Professional Development — Alec @ 3:42 pm

Every day — in life and business — is a test. And if you like tests as much as I do, you are in luck!

The tests come in many forms, usually: Think, Produce, Value

We have to Produce, but we also must Think and plan some depending on the complexity, value and risk associated with the work to be accomplished.

I am a very big risk taker, but I always want to take into account and estimate the cost or severity of failure. I always want to evaluate the ability to reverse my actions. In other words, it is an easy and inexpensive risk to test a new flavor of tea, but very expensive and hard to reverse risk to buy a new convertible on a whim.

It is essential to understand the impact on the company, boss, employees and goals when considering high value and high severity actions. Corrections are easy on a wrong flavored cup of tea, but not so easy on a $250,000 machine that proves wrong.

And finally, the real score keeper is the customer. How will they accept and evaluate the risks you take and their inevitable success or failure?

In your Plan for 2015 you have already thought about what next year should look like. Now you need to analyze the details and Think:

1. What do you really want to or need to accomplish?
2. What risks are you willing to take? What is the Value of these risks?

Sometimes it takes a little nudge to stop, wake up, and think about your 5-year plan and make sure your 1-year plan fits with the bigger picture.

So, do a little mental reboot, nudge your risk-taking dream machine, and don’t be afraid to think about what you REALLY want.

Need help with your reboot? Call us! We love dreaming about what your company could be. We will help you pass your next big test.

December 9, 2014

The Value of Quality

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Personal Philosophy — Alec @ 3:57 pm

When we used to travel to Cozumel, Mexico, there were two little stores next to Mescilitos Bar on the NE corner of the island. One store advertised “Cheaper than Walmart”. The other advertised “Almost Free”. They both sold T-shirts, knick knacks and souvenirs very cheaply.

There was a book written years ago by Phillip Crosby called Quality is Free. His point was not that scrap was free, but rather whatever you invest, will return to you in multiples.

A friend of mine recently said to me like, “Wouldn’t you like something free?” or “Wouldn’t you like it tax free?”

The point is that nothing is actually free, or very few things in the business world are. The Mexican t-shirts were 3 for $10, which is indeed inexpensive but not free. Quality is not free, it requires time and energy and sometimes a capital investment to get the returns.

And when something is tax free, there are always strings attached.

I have tried giving away free assessments and even free training sessions to non-profits. I find they are poorly received. Maybe it’s me? I like to think I put the same energy in free sessions, but I believe my customers value the assessments and training at about the same level that they pay for them. I find attendance is always lower. The more I charge and the closer to the payer, the better the attendance is and the better the participation.

I received a recommendation a few days ago, and I started to protest. The person said to me, “Accept gifts!” Yet it is so difficult to accept something that is unearned and sometimes undeserved.

When selling to your customers we must show them the value for the price, and we should avoid lowering it. You get what you pay for. Of the 55 Kaizen classes we have conducted, our customers have seen a payback of 4 months in cash and 3000% in fully burdened costs. Maybe we need to raise our prices?

To Do Lists : What Are You Trying To Accomplish?

I thought about this morning as I was driving back from a networking meeting with a long-time friend. I was thinking of all the things on my To Do list today, and that I could cross off this networking meeting, but that I also needed to add a couple actions that he suggested.

My daily Things To Do (TTD) list is broken down very clearly into personal and business tasks. I even circle the ones that I feel I MUST do today and I write my affirmations at the top of the page. However — and this is a hefty observation — we must never forget one thing when looking at our to do lists:

Don’t confuse tasks and affirmations with goals.

Goals are the real objective; what do you really want to accomplish? These tasks and affirmations are just great tools to speeding up the process and staying focused. Affirmations give you the power of positive thinking, but they do not accomplish the goal. Tasks may move you toward the goal if you have tasks related to the path. We must do the tasks, we must have affirmations, but we must keep in mind:

Crossing off completed tasks on your To Do list is not your goal.

Kaizen Listening : Using Your Ears and Eyes

Filed under: Food for thought for friends,Leadership Skills — Alec @ 3:47 pm

Nonverbal communication is probably the single most powerful form of communication and the least recognized. After leading numerous Kaizen events and People Leadership Seminars, I have realized that you hear just as much with your eyes as you do with your ears.

I am sure teachers have known this little fact for years. They can easily tell what students are listening, who wants to ask a question and even more so, who doesn’t want to be called on. Small observations will quickly tell you who is listening, who is bored and who is daydreaming. By taking notice of body language, facial expressions, hand gestures and eye movements you can see the thoughts of those around you almost as obviously as you can by the tone or volume of someone’s speech. Sometimes you even learn more!

As I facilitate classes and try to engage people in participation, I can tell who has a question or who does not understand, but would like to (most of the time). Not everyone feels comfortable speaking in front of groups, let alone speaking their mind in mixed company at work. By utilizing subtle cues in body language and listening to each other, we can better communicate through issues in the workplace, find effective ways to complete projects and get everyone on the team to participate.

Simple Steps To Help You Win Big

1. If you want to be a winner, you must try.

2. If you don’t try, the probability of success approaches zero.

3. If you add a goal, and try, are tenacious and persistent, the probability of success approaches 40%.

4. And if you add that you tell someone else your goal and they share the value of the idea, the probability of success approaches more than 50%.

5. If you use the Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control (DMAIC) model to accomplish your goal to all the above, the probability of success is 60% or greater.

6. If you use Value Stream Map (VSM) and Variation Reduction (VR) to select that goal, the results will fall to the bottom line.

You can’t be a winner just once and be successful. You must repeat this process every day on every significant problem and opportunity. So, if you are consistent and do steps 1-6 every day, the process will become a habit, and you will be a big winner.

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