Category Archives: business

4 Steps to Selling Your Process Improvement

Hands-down, big advertisers are the masters of behavioral change. Case in point – they are said to have doubled mid-century shampoo sales by simply printing “rinse, repeat” on the bottles.

Today, advertising involves vacuuming up the massive digital breadcrumbs people leave behind on every click, scan and keystroke, and crunching through mind-numbing algorithms to determine which ads to spew forth on your screen next. Yet, underlying all that tech is still the old-school advertiser’s formula that you can leverage on your next process change.

The secret formula? AIDA – Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action. If you want somebody to buy into your change, first make them aware of it, get them interested, and make them desire it to the point they take the action of “purchasing” it. How would that help you on a typical process improvement project?

Awareness: Starting in the planning stages you should be developing a communications plan that you execute through all the improvement steps. Do not wait until the end to “advertise” your project. People need to be exposed to your change multiple times before they really become aware of it.

Interest: When you build the business case for your process improvement, be sure to articulate your Vision (What’s in it for the user) and your Burning Platform (Bad things that happen if you don’t implement the change now). Use both of these in your communications to spark interest among your target audience.

Desire: Most purchasing decisions are said to be driven by emotion, even though we justify those decisions using logic. Granted, it’s hard to inject emotion into a new Invoicing process. But, if your new process will relieve pain that people are feeling, it’s easier to leverage that. Excitement is an emotion. At a minimum, ensure that all the people executing your communications exhibit the proper excitement. All else being equal, consumers tend to buy from people they like. Leverage that in terms of who you have doing the communicating for your project.

Action: Ask for the sale – this is your version of the “Buy Now” button. Ask your audience to engage in the new process – preferably in a non-threatening way. This may take the form of training, seeing a demo, participating in a pilot, attending a kickoff, etc. Even a micro-commitment such as signing a pledge or making an appointment to view a training video gets them started. Make it as easy as possible for people to follow the new process. (Simultaneously, make it hard for resistors to try to do things the old way.)

Get The Best Out Of Everyone

The new management may have been groomed to run the family business, in some cases, for their entire adult lives. Or you may decide to offer a loyal employee or management team member that opportunity. The originators of the business often try for years to educate, share their experiences, impart their wisdom, and mould their successors. Some succeed others don’t. Family isn’t always the best choice. In fact it’s more rare than you might think.

Share what made you successful and make sure that goes for everyone involved with the company as well. Give the new Owners complete and unfettered access to you and the senior management team. An immediate and never-ending inside edge to the key goings on of the organization.

Some of the same benefits (experience, familiarity, and loyalty) can be gained from non-family, non-management employees and business associates who offer expertise and experiences that are different from yours. They may not be an Owner but what they offer is invaluable. Make sure you pass this insight and access on to the new management.

In some cases the new generation will continue to operate the business as it had been run in the past, a safe short-term measure.

This strategy may have worked for the previous generation, but circumstances are changing at a dramatic pace. We are living in a time of new technology, new needs, and new ways of approaching problems. E-commerce, database marketing, social media, big box and online stores, branding, and many other new terms have not only entered our small business vocabulary, they have taken business over.

As part of the older management you may be set in your ways, a little tired, and perhaps a little too comfortable with a particular style of conducting business that has provided you with years of triumph (usually tempered by a few bumps in the road).

The younger management may be full of energy and have new ideas for reinventing the business. But working together, you both need to blend the best of both generations. Preserve the successes from the past, incorporate the new opportunities, and build for the future.

A reminder to the older generation: not everything old is good nor is everything new bad.

To the younger generation remember: not everything old is bad nor is everything new good.

It’s all about working together and bringing out the best in each other. Success breeds success.

Business Agility in a World of Artificial Intelligence

Business Agility, AI and Remaining Human

“The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most intelligent, caring and supervisory roles remaining.” Stephen Hawking.

It doesn’t take one of the world’s greatest living astrophysicists to understand there is a major shift going on in not only our workplaces, but in our society as a whole. The difference between what humans can do and what machines and computers are capable of is shifting, and at an accelerating rate. This reality becomes truly scary to those who currently earn a living by doing repetitive tasks or thinking in repeatable patterns; in other words, most of us.

If you are not able to distinguish what you do from that of a machine or a computer, then how can you really call yourself much more than a human doing? To remain a human being requires more!

The difference between a human doing and a human being?

Your ability to feel and relate.

Going forward, this will be most obvious in those roles that as Professor Hawking reminds us require feelings, leadership and creativity combined with intelligence. For the foreseeable future, this means that your economy will increasingly be influenced by your ability to listen, understand, empathize, create and lead. In short, the more you cultivate your ability to consciously feel, powerfully communicate and relate, the better chance you will have of getting paid. Transacting can be left to our increasingly sophisticated creations.

Even if increasing your ability to use your senses to relate is reduced down to the economics of being employed or not, just that is a positive start! Most of us are now being forced to learn that trying to compete with computers and machines only leads to increased stress and ultimately dis-ease.

“Life in a Spreadsheet”

A good friend, Tim Finucane, came up with this appropriate metaphor over ten years ago, and it rings truer today than when he first coined it. Since the advent of Lotus 1-2-3 and Microsoft Excel, 30 plus years ago, we have been able to measure job performance with increasing accuracy as well as more intrusiveness. Whereas, spreadsheets were first used to help us perform better, they have now morphed into being used to dictate and monitor increasingly challenging performance metrics. Is it any wonder that each little box in a spreadsheet is called a “cell”? Just like prison, these cells keep getting smaller and just like government budgets, each metric usually increases over time.

Spreadsheet technology gave way to the idea of Key Performance Indicators or KPIs. For your company, these are metrics based almost entirely upon historical performance, yet are prone to increase or tighten every time they are reviewed. This is fine for a machine that you can tweak and improve with newer technology, but when the key components are you and your co-worker, constant increases can stifle your creativity and crush your ability to care. The machine literally drains you of your humanity and what are human beings without that?

Powerful forces, problem or Agile Opportunity?

Thus we have two powerful forces working against us. Firstly, constantly increasing performance metrics keep limiting our ability to be human. Secondly, increasingly efficient computers and machines make obsolete more of our opportunities to earn. The good news is that those who understand these powerful forces and the change they are bringing can begin directly to increase their creativity, as well as hone their ability to sense, relate and lead.

What if this measurement trend also is forcing us to take more personal responsibility to relearn and improve the skills necessary for not just emotional, but social competence? Don’t think this is important? One of the seminars held at this year’s Davos World Economic Forum was titled, “Maintaining Your Humanity”. Even the Elites now get it.

Competing with an increasingly sophisticated computer or machine for jobs that technology can do better is not a winning strategy! Especially if you wish to remain healthy and prosperous. The one area that for the foreseeable future will remain the domain of humans is where feelings and relationships come into play. These areas include but are not limited to:

Customer Service
Healthcare
Sales
Leadership
Music and arts

Each one of these areas of human endeavor requires feeling and sensitivity to succeed. Computers and machines cannot do that. Machines can measure and they can perform without rest, but they cannot not feel anything while performing or when they objectively measure and communicate the results. This job is left for us to interpret and enjoy, or not.

Conclusion: Remain Human, Get Agile, or Be Swallowed by the Technology

If you want to insure your ability to earn a living going forward, you need to begin now to optimize your use of computer and machine skills, while simultaneously rediscovering and mastering your ability to be vibrant human being. Missing this opportunity may not affect you tomorrow, but sooner or later the Technologically Weighted Future we are all tumbling into will catch up to even you!

Seven Things to Ask When Choosing an Executive Coach

The most valuable resource of any organization is its people. An organization that supports, values and acknowledges what staff bring, is more likely to survive and prosper. Executive Coaching, the support process of choice for many organizations, can enhance work satisfaction along with productivity and staff retention. But Coaching is not cheap. How do we choose a Coach most likely to give us a great return on our investment?

1. Ask about the Executive Coach’s Methods

A professional Coach uses proven techniques to establish clear goals, explore situations, consider ways forward and take positive action. They use models that enhance communication and promote learning and professional development in an empowering and sustainable way. Find out what their methods are.

2. Ask about their Coaching Philosophy

Accredited and experienced Executive Coaches will consciously work to ethical codes and philosophical frameworks, to ensure the best possible service for their clients. Ask them to tell you about their coaching ethics and philosophy.

3. Ask about Quality Assurance

Professional Coaches assure quality by regularly reviewing progress with their clients. Their programs will also be evaluated with clients to demonstrate exactly what the outcomes are for the individual and the organization. Ask them about their review and evaluation processes.

4. Ask for Testimonials

Satisfied clients will be happy to reflect on the benefits of the Executive Coaching service as part of the evaluation process, and after coaching has ended. Ask for written testimonials, or to ask to talk to previous clients about their experience.

5. Ask if they’re trained

No less relevant, is the coaching knowledge and practice a Coach has attained. A professional Coach will have undergone extensive training and accreditation, including key theoretical perspectives and considerable practice, gained under supervision by experienced coaching professionals. Ask about their training.

6. Ask about their Continued Professional Development

A competent Coach will be working on their own development, for example, by being coached themselves. Professional Coaches also receive regular Coaching Supervision as part of their ongoing professional development. An opportunity to explore and improve one’s coaching practice, Coaching Supervision is considered in the coaching industry as essential to Quality Assurance. Ask about their Continued Professional Development.

7. Ask yourself: How comfortable do you feel?

Probably the most important thing to ask yourself in your quest for the right Executive Coach is how comfortable you feel with the person. Do you feel listened to? Is there an increasing sense of clarity and inspiration to achieve your goals? These are some of the clues that this person will help you work smarter and create the changes you want!

Is Coaching Worth the Investment?

In a world where time is money, managers need people who can take action immediately. They search for employees who already have the skills, competency and capability to work with little supervision. Combined with ever changing businesses and technology, companies claim there is no time to train and coach people effectively. Instead they chant do it now!

However, the idea of do it faster, smarter, and better is in conflict with a society that is constantly transforming. The skills of today are not the skills of tomorrow. A person can be obsolete in 6-12 months if unable to embrace change.

That said, one of the greatest assets of a leader is the ability to adapt to change. Why? The easier the leader transforms the quicker the rest of the enterprise will follow. When leadership transforms, they become a great support structure and reinforcement for a new corporate culture, that in turn affects staff and managers alike.

Yet, for some reason, there are leaders who resist the idea of mentoring people, complaining that it takes too much time to coach. These managers expect their employees to be motivated to do things they may not know how to do or take on responsibilities outside of their job description.

I’d like to share my personal experience with coaching people. Having lost both parents in one day, I learned leadership through the fire. In the face of a tumultuous situation, many things had to be accomplished. As the oldest of four children, I had to take charge of the family. My first mission was to ensure emotional safety for my brother, 19 and sisters 16 and 12, respectively.

I took my brother to another state to attend college. That left my sisters and I to accomplish many complicated tasks. I knew they had no idea how to help so I coached them to learn to help. To start, I’d ask them to do simple tasks that they were not qualified to do. When they failed, instead of giving them the answer, I asked questions. I would ask them: “What’s another way to ask for what you want? Just because someone tells you no doesn’t mean no. You may have asked the wrong way.” In a short time, they developed new problem solving skills. With those skills in place, I was able to make more complicated requests and, to my surprise, they volunteered for even greater tasks.

Using the leadership skills I developed during my parents’ death, I led companies as an executive, employing the same style. When I hired a new person, I would ask them to do something they did not know how to do. In one case, the gentleman spent 20 minutes attempting to convince me that I overestimated him. He assured me he was not qualified to handle the project. I assured him there was no pressure and I was available to work closely with him. As he took on the project, to his surprise, he was very capable and was given responsibility for the remainder of the initiative.

When I listen to seasoned executives, nearly all of them think the same: it is better to hire someone who possesses company values, instead of the “right” skills. Those executives say skills and competencies can be learned. When you combine that with my experience, you increase the value of staff and management when you coach them up. You empower them to learn skills and competencies they would not ordinarily learn. At the same time, as a leader, you are able to strategically delegate new assignments to them and lighten your load so that you, as the leader, can take on new responsibilities.

Business Agility Demands Retooling Corporate Training’s Role

Business agility requires more information quicker to satisfy the demands of both shortening business cycles as well as increasingly sophisticated and capricious customers. Regardless of your industry, if you don’t provide what your customers want when and how they want it, they will increasingly disappear to a competitor without saying goodbye. With this as a background, it makes very little sense to keep one of your best and most efficient sources of extremely practical and useable information buried deeply within your company.

For much too long, most corporate training departments have languished in a dark and dusty closet somewhere in the bowels of your Human Resources department. Why?

Most often because this is how it has always been done. Do you also still see training as a necessary evil that your company must have that just costs money?

It is time to think again!

What other departments can:

· directly communicate with virtually everyone you do business with?

· quickly contact those directly affected by important changes?

· confirm when a solution works or not from real-time experience?

· ask those affected for their views, fixes and suggestions?

· test different solutions directly with those affected and get instant feedback?

Yet most training departments are still seen as burdens rather than as one of the most efficient marketing tools available! To survive or thrive as an agile business, this outdated view of training must be corrected, and quickly. There are two powerful solutions that can be implemented together or separately to help you make this influential change.

Move your training department from HR into Marketing
Outsource your training department to make it more effective and cost efficient.

Moving Training to Marketing

Isn’t marketing’s primary job to communicate with your market?

Now, what is training other than a service to communicate the latest and greatest your organization offers both internally and externally? Yet as powerful as this task is, this is only half of training’s real potential!

What better place to gain feedback, directly from the source, than from those directly using, selling and servicing your products? Tasking your trainers to be organizational scouts looking for information can give new life and meaning to their whole team! At once they not only become teachers, but your firm’s external ambassadors to your customers and internally to all those dealing with them.

One objection to this simple yet radical shift is that sales and service already takes care of this function. Although this is true, customers are usually much more on their guard when sales people begin asking questions while most service people are often more at home with the products than with the customers who use them. It is no secret that many service technicians often choose their profession to avoid having to deal with people preferring the silent company of their tools and products. This is not so with trainers.

Trainers usually feel at home conversing with customers. Implementing this organizational change allows for a drastically different relationship where critical information can now be gathered using professional communicators and without the perceived risk of having to buy something! Trainers usually love interacting with their participants and can easily integrate more market-oriented conversations into what they already do. This information can then be quickly and efficiently delegated to the right parties, processed efficiently and improvements made. This increases their value to the firm and can save large amounts of time, money and frustration in product development as well as with the strategy and tactics of sales and marketing.

Outsourcing your Training Department

If moving Training to Marketing is radical, outsourcing your training department can almost be seen as heretical. Yet moving your trainers from a backwater in your organization all the way into a pure-play training company can transform often neglected second stringers to an effective world-class team. By pure-play we mean a company with training as their core business.

The benefits of such a move can pile up quickly:

· Costs diminish as a pure-play training company will produce more efficient training offerings than those produced by a costly extension of HR.

· No ramp-up period is required as those training are the same people you used to employ and are already pros at what they do.

· The quality usually improves as:

o Your old employees are now members of a dedicated and elite team. Their skills are now improved and utilized more effectively even over other projects, thus adding to their skills and experience.

o Your offering becomes better as other resources and people the pure-play company has can be now be implemented into your offering as well.

o The flow of useable information back to your organization improves as the trainers become more effective in their new marketing-scouting roles.

· Personnel costs sink as you are now hiring a service that you can regulate without the HR and payroll hassles associated with employees.

Finally, your training will never be worse than when you owned it in-house and your costs often sink by 20-25% while the quality and information gathered increases, sometimes drastically. The bottom line is that your organizations entire business agility index climbs rapidly ensuring a more stable and profitable future.

Innovative Ideas in the Field of Technology

Innovative ideas in the field of technology have simplified the work and helped our rapid development. These ideas contribute to the creation of innovative technologies over time. In order to create this innovative idea, it is necessary to have the knowledge, which is fundamental in this process.
Thus we get the scheme: knowledge, idea, technology.

To date, innovative technologies are traditionally divided into two segments: information technologies (technologies of automated information processing) and communication technologies (technologies for storage and transmission of information). For example, with the help of communication technologies, people can receive and transmit various contents, being in different corners of our world. International relations, including education, business negotiations and much more are now possible faster and more efficiently. If we recall the communication innovations in the field of education, first of all, it should be emphasized that people can enter higher education institutions and study remotely regardless of their location. Furthermore, every qualified pedagogue teaches something new and useful. Communication with representatives of other countries contributes to our self-development. All this eventually promotes the creation of qualified unique staff.

Information technologies allow:
– To automate certain labour-intensive operations;
– Automate and optimize production planning;
– Optimize individual business processes (for example, customer relations, asset management, document management, management decision-making), taking into account the specifics of various branches of economic activity. Information technology is used for large data processing systems, computing on a personal computer, in science and education, in management, computer-aided design and the creation of systems with artificial intelligence. Information technologies are the modern technological systems of immense strategic importance (political, defence, economic, social and cultural), which led to the formation of a new concept of the world order – “who owns the information, he owns the world.”

The spread of information and communication technologies play an important role in structural changes in all the areas of our life. For someone, it will be difficult to learn these technologies. Workers who will not be able to study will have to give way to the younger generation. Thus we are faced with a problem because, in order to use innovations in technologies and develop it, it is necessary to have a qualified youth. First and foremost there is the question of education. Anyway, only education can create a developed generation that will continue to strive for new knowledge and will meet the requirements of innovative technologies. In addition, I am convinced that innovative ideas in technologies have created a completely new life, which poses new challenges for our country. How we will cope with these tasks depends on the future of our country.

Corporate Innovation – What Happened?

In the real world outside of academia, we have the same problem where corporate employees are discouraged from thinking, trained to do things exactly as per the employee manual, BMPs (best management practices) of industry, or directions from their bosses, yet their bosses are doing the same thing? Is anyone – even the C-suite or board of directors thinking anymore? Are they busy copying marketing campaigns, business strategies, and processes of their competitors too – apparently so, which is fairly obvious reading trade journals and following industry associations.

In fact, many industry associations (bureaucratic status quo) have training courses for people in the industry – but that just means once everyone is trained – every company is going around the same track at the same speed with the same horsepower, and same rules as everyone else. Welcome to the human rat race – looks more like NASCAR than revolutionary innovation or great leaps of technology. How can you or your company win if you just copy what everyone else is doing, or attempting to do? How can your company come up with a breakthrough or the next new thing?

We Americans complain when China and others rip-off our intellectual property, and yet, what are we doing to ourselves? Doesn’t anyone think anymore? Every time I turn around I see the same thing. What happened to American Innovation, creative problem solving, and that ‘can do attitude’ that when there is a will, we will find a way? We see only a few corporations thinking anymore or pushing the envelope? Why?

Do we have too many confining rules and regulations? Are too many companies worried about lawsuits or pull-backs in shareholder’s equity, stock price and quarterly profits? Are there too many class action lawyers ready to strike – keeping companies from taking risks? Are companies too concerned with boycotts enabled by political correctness in our evolving society – be careful not to offend anyone – be safe, don’t rock the boat?

Is it all of these things mentioned above, plus the slow mind-numbing indoctrination of media, academia and the inherent ever pervasive government indoctrination? Perhaps, but what’s the underlining cause. Humans are not getting less intelligent. IQ scores have been rising for a 100-years. Could social media have a part in this problem I’ve observed? Some say social media has helped innovation – has it really? It seems that faster communication would increase original thought and make everyone a little more innovative – but it hasn’t. It appears it is dummying down our society more than it is helping foster creative minds and turning us all into innovators.

Building and Understanding Trust

A few days back I spoke with a new client named Brad, a successful and old-fashioned sales management professional from Texas. He informed me that after 8+ years of periodically selling cattle someone recently wrote him a bad check for the first time. He later found out the ethically challenged individual is now gone in the wind, resulting in Brad losing $800. This led to an interesting discussion about trust.

Toward the end of our conversation he scoffed at my suggestion to invoice people through a 3rd party that can safeguard the transaction for a small fee. He simply told me, “That’s not a very good way to build a relationship John. How many people like to hear that you don’t trust them?”

I felt kind of guilty at that point because I had invoiced him the day before, and the amount of the invoice wasn’t significant.

A while back my father suggested that I read three management books. The key lesson in each of them is that without trust you can’t build an effective team. Teamwork and developing a manageable corporate structure aside, the same lesson applies to working with customers or clients. You need trust to build a sustainable business relationship. When companies say they are “the largest producer” or that they “partner with their customers” they are really trying to signal that they are trustworthy.

Building A Relationship

Marketers build an integrated marketing communication plan to make sure all of the information being disseminated to a target market reinforces one uniform branding message. People should think about trust the same way. The way you approach someone with a proposal, verbal or written communications, administration of financial transactions, information transparency, and basically all aspects of interacting with another party will impact your business’ trustworthiness and/or personal relationship with them.

Brad thinks sending an invoice offering transaction protection implies that you don’t trust someone. I think invoicing seems like a pretty neutral means of administrating transactions. My method of operation is to send invoices, but I will pay 1-2% of the transaction value essentially outsourcing trust from my new client to a 3rd party. Asking Brad how he’d like to handle payment could have potentially saved me that 1-2%, and extended trust to Brad creating a stronger relationship.

Brad might have preferred to trust that 3rd party as well, but extending the offer to let him choose couldn’t have hurt our relationship.

Understanding Your Actions

There are instances where utilizing 3rd parties or technology for security, engaging in limited micromanagement of an employee, or bringing in a management consultant to solve a problem can make sense. Unfortunately what you are essentially doing is outsourcing trust. As logical as it might seem to you, some people will interpret these actions as you displaying a lack of faith in them or their abilities.

Business Planning Tips

Business plans varies with each and every individual. Some prefer technological based business, some prefer learning based business and some with entertainment based business but all together their motive is to get profits from their work.

Business ranges from large to small levels. Now- a- days promoting a business via digital marketing is very simple and its very effective for the purpose of leads generations. As said, business structure (plans, designs) completely varies to each and every business.

The one who has a plan to start a business has to travel a lot of procedural steps. Implementing the business ideas is tougher than generating the ideas. The one who is ready to start his own business must be ready to face all the pros and cons of it. The market standard get varies with each and every business, so all the investors cannot not except the same profit as like all months.

Apart from making money, carrying a business has social responsibilities too. For example, running a company includes proper employees work management, proper revenue generation, proper infrastructure and so on. Here the owner of the company should not focus only on the profits, so apart from this he has to think the about the welfare of his employees and their families. Thinking about the environmental issues is an important step in carrying a business. For example, a person owning the industry has to think of the environmental issues and recommended to use the proper safety measures which does not affect the environment.

If you have a plan to start your own business then consulting a business consultant for financial services are highly recommended. The key aspects of the best business consultancy are:

1. Marketing services

2. Financial services

3. Joint venture services

4. Infrastructure services

5. Set up analysis services

Starting up a business involves risk and difficulty. Before getting into their own business each and every individual has to do research on their business products. No business can be setup without any finance. The financial service plays a major role in setting up a business and in promoting it to an extent. Thus, having a clear vision over their work plan is safe and mandatory. The person who is ready to start their own business should have a rough estimate of how much money is needed to start their business and how much profit they can generate annually.