Friday, March 14, 2014

Business/Organization Success: The Keys

In the seminar “The Three Keys to a Successful Business” we cover some critical components. They make the difference between optimal success and an “okay” business, or even more impacting, surviving or not surviving. Of course, these keys are not limited to business, but apply to any organization. In fact, they are helpful in normal, everyday, life.

Let me just share the model and the most important part, the foundation. We will talk about what the pillars represent in later issues.

The model looks like this:

The important foundation to all success is the willingness to learn. Business after business has declined or failed because leadership did not pay attention. For a long time the American automobile industry leaders ignored warnings and recommendations of people like W. Edwards (Bill) Deming, and the threat of foreign automobiles to the American market. However, the Japanese were willing to listen to Deming, and to learn. The results were almost devastating to American manufacturing.

On the other side of that coin, when Microsoft inundated the world with their brand of computers and operating systems, Apple came up with several innovations that not only kept them in the game, but actually elevated the company. They became very creative. They paid attention and were willing to learn.

The moral: Pay attention and be ready to change as needed, and when you think you know it all; you don’t.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Using what you have

[NOTE:  next month – Wednesday, February 26, 1:00-4:00 PM, I will be doing a workshop on the components of optimally successful businesses through the Business Development Center at Boise State University, at the Micron Business & Economics Building. To register, call 208 426-3875.]

You bought property in a high crime rate area. The purchase included a security fence, perimeter cameras, and a night watchman.  The first night there is a successful break in. The question raised: what happened?

A quick inquiry revealed that the night watchman was on vacation, the gate in the security fence was not locked, and the cameras were turned off. Your response is that someone really needs to wake up and use the system. Obviously, there is a problem here.

I see organizations that operate as the story above –  not in a physical/safety way, but in a not-paying-attention way. That is, they do not utilize the resources they have to assist them in optimizing their operation. Part of the problem is tied to success.

Historically, American businesses have operated as if they were on a flat, calm sea that would last. Upon discovering the sea was a bit more stormy, their current stabilizer has been maintaining extra cash – a practice with some negative issues.  There are other ways that cost very little.

First, spend money and effort on the people on the front lines. Make sure the people who meet customers, know the organization philosophy and are well trained in their jobs. I continually see and experience deficiencies in front-line people. To the public, they are your company. If that means you need to spend more time and money on training these folks, do it.

Second, go to department employees for suggestions. Don’t bring in an outside efficiency group. Start with the individuals in your own work force. They deal with the operations on a continual bases and over a longer period of time. You will save money, get some good advice, and develop stronger employee support.

Like the security story,  effectively using what you already have is sound practice in optimizing your success.