Have Fun Again!

It happened again yesterday! This isn’t what you signed up for! All the reasons why you love being the boss keep getting shoved further and further away. The great ideas that are inside you keep getting buried. Because who has time to implement them? Certainly not you and who would you trust to bring birth to your ideas anyway? No ONE! They are the reason why you started the company in the first place!

Things aren’t working the way you wanted them to.  By now, most of 2015 results have been determined. It’ll be 6 months before the results of any changes are seen. Now is the time to plan for 2016-2017, but don’t wait for 2016 to start. If you wait till next year, 2016’s results will be determined by what you’ve implemented in 2015.

Most days, you just want to focus on the part of the business that was attractive in the first place. It used to fun, and now it’s not. We can help you find that experience again. We can help you utilize the rest of the team by cloning yourself. If others think like an owner, they will know how to implement your great ideas that make your (yours and theirs) organization a success. They most likely have better ways to implement the ideas than you could imagine if you know how to engage with them, empower them and keep the whole organization aligned and working in the same direction.

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Useless Effort?

Candidate hiring is gaining ground, doubling in the last five years. However, its effectiveness is suspect. There is no competitive advantage that can be gained through a better hiring process; we have no lock on getting the ‘best and brightest’. It’s what you do once you hire the person that creates organizational success. Through alignment (and collaboration), empowerment and development, your employees will contribute to their own and your success.

Like ‘training’ where 85 percent is not used back on the job, personality/cognitive/behavioral assessments are wasted because managers don’t know what to do the results. They tend to allow cooperation and effective communication if it doesn’t jeopardize their status; they tend to manage the way they want to be managed (or have been managed) out of habit; they tend to teach job requirements the way they as students would want to be taught. They tend not to adapt to their staff.

You too. So if you want to make a significant change in your organization’s metrics, we can show you how.PhD cover

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Take Credit When Credit’s Due

If your business is like most, you’re missing opportunities to improve because you might be congratulating yourself early. Most businesses look at their metrics. As long as they see movement in the right direction, they think they’re winning. Leaders and managers then congratulate themselves. However, when the results ‘go south’, they then panic and look for someone else to blame: the economy, the competitors, those darn customers…because it can’t be ‘us’. “We’re still the doing the same things we did when we were succeeding, so it’s got to be something else causing us to become [less profitable, late on our deliveries, short of stock, lower market share, etc.].”

2nd chart

4ward Associates is keen on metrics and the correct analysis of them so that you know if the changes you’re making are moving your business in the right direction, wrong direction or no direction. Perhaps your business is in a rut and you’ve tried a lot of things to make some significant improvements. We’ve been successful in moving many organizations out of those ruts–and it often doesn’t take much.

Let us help you drive the success your organization deserves!

By the way, the graph above is an example of an organization that has plateaued; it’s not getting worse in the last month.

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More Than a Hammer?

A clinic wanted to solve a problem of reducing the length of time between when a patient called for an appointment and when they could get in to see the physician. The clinic, at first, thought they should establish a Lean/Six Sigma project. Those are the tools most organizations have heard about, heard that they succeeded in improving other organization’s performance, and believe they should do the same thing.

There are a lot of tools out there to use. You have to know what questions you need to answer and what questions those tools answer to match the correct tool to your situation.

For the clinic, it was thinking about how to improve throughput. Often, the best set of tools to do that is Theory of Constraints: identifying the constraint (physicians’ time), making sure those resources are fully realized, subordinating other resources to them, and figuring out ways to expand capacity. Most companies fear using other less-efficient resources because they believe it costs more. In reality, if you can do more, have more throughput, you utilize more capacity and reduce costs. Putting less-efficient resources in place to help the constrained resource is better than not having the increased throughput. In this situation, better utilization of physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners helped the clinic see more patients, increased the clinic’s and the physicians’ incomes, and increased their market share.

Whether it’s Theory of Constraints or Open Book Management or Lean/Six Sigma or something else, we can help you find the right tools and get everyone engaged thinking through the right questions to get the right answers to create the success your organization deserves.

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Be a Ten-Percenter

No, you don’t want to be at the bottom. But you do want to be part of an exclusive club. You want to be part of the 10% of people who actually make a difference in their lives.

Most people do not change. And a crisis won’t be enough of a stimulus for change. Only 10% of heart disease patients change their lifestyle. They continue to do, and not do, the things that got them into trouble. This is true in business too.

Your organization is struggling. It needs to change. It needs you to change, so that your staff and the rest of the organization will stop reacting and responding to you in the old patterns. Want to get greater results? Make a change. But make a change that helps the rest of your organization.

Try to be a servant leader. Implement Open Book Management (particularly Great Game of Business methodology). Get better at communication (check out the “#1 Mistake in Corporate Communications“). Your team will exceed your expectations. You change; they change and your results will change.

Can you do it? Are you ready for the challenge? Can you be part of the 10-percenters that have made their lives and their organizations better? We can help you through the mess of getting from the not-so-good Here to the never-thought-it-could-happen There.

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How Many on Your Team Know How to Win?

What percentage of your employees are committed and highly engaged to the success of your organization?

100%?    90%?   75%?    50%?   25%?   10%?

Most answer around the 50% mark. Additionally, we often think that we can grow that percentage with some effort at making a change in our operations, or a bit more communication. (In one workshop, after asking for a show of hands at different percentages, I had a gentleman claim 100% of his employees were committed. “Are you a company of one?” I asked. “No, there’s two of us,” he replied pointing to his brother in the next chair. I observed to much laughter, “But he didn’t raise his hand!“)

Unfortunately, reality is far worse. Organizational change efforts acknowledge that 65-85% of all change efforts fail. That’s abysmal results!

According to a Harris poll of 23,000 employees, less than half know the company goals…and it gets worse.

In his book Using the Power of Purpose, Dean Tucker relates the poll results to a football team. As your offense faces your competition playing defense, you only have four employees who know they’re supposed to move the ball to the end zone they’re looking at. Only two know what position to play, only two care and only two think you can win. 9 out of the 11 would just as soon as root for the other team as much as they root for their own.

From my perspective, the only good news is that your competition has the same problem.

If you get more than 4 employees to know how to win the game, and care about it, believe they can win and actually cheer on your team, you have an advantage. If you’ve got six or eight, you’ll bowl over the competition!

I can show what the other experts overlook and why their results are horrible.

What I can show you is how to create the culture, collaboration and ownership thinking inside your company to overwhelm your competition. Together we’ll discover the opportunities and uncover the obstacles. It’ll be hard work, and it’ll take some time…but it’s worth it when you’re winning! And better yet, it’ll be fun!

Efforts with 4ward Associates

Buy-in Improves with 4ward Associates

 

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To Do the Impossible, We Can Help!

Crew

Alignment is important, or else your ship goes in circles

Now is the time to start reviewing your progress against this year’s goals. The results just aren’t what you wanted. Everyone’s working hard, but the efforts are not attaining the expectations you mapped out at the end of last year.  As you take time to think about it, you wonder if everyone is pulling together. Operations has their goals. Sales has their goals. Accounting has a goal or two, as does Human Resources and Quality Assurance. Yet, your company doesn’t feel successful. It’s like the oars aren’t being pulled in synchronization, or all pistons aren’t firing. Stress, worry, confusion…it’s just not fun anymore!

Bringing our experience and insight, we will partner with you to change the misalignment and remove the obstacles to success. As your trusted advisor, we’ll bring an analysis that will reduce your stress, worry and confusion. You’ll be able to focus on the parts of the business you enjoy–the reasons you got into this business! Instead of pondering what’s going wrong, you can create new tactics, strategies, innovations and opportunities.

And the rest of your team will sense your renewed energy and enthusiasm. With our help, your team will overshoot your goals by 25%–and it will feel effortless to them and you! We promise these results–or you’ll get half of your money back, or we’ll keep working for free till they happen!

Most organizational change efforts are a lot of blitz and blast. Many specialists look for velocity of change. Traditional efforts don’t create a lot of organizational action beyond the “early adopters” who are fiercely loyal to your organization. We look for depth of change throughout the organization. We turn skeptics into believers, not through a lot of hard work or flashy work….just steady engagement with your team. They buy into the vision and your organization reaps the rewards!

Efforts with 4ward Associates

Buy-in Improves with 4ward Associates

We specialize in changing corporate cultures, and alignment of the whole organization around a strategy or goal. We have seen the power of an organization that’s committed to succeeding at one or two key metrics. Having the right metric is important. Companies have exceeded their wildest dreams when they’ve selected a metric that requires everyone to make a coordinated effort for their customers. We can help you find and communicate the essential performance indicator. Now we can coach you in the successful methods of Springfield Remanufacturing Company as noted in Great Game of Business, which cleanly meshes with our own experiences and methods.

Education arm of Springfield Remanufacturing Company

Before you sign with any consultant, think about these considerations.  Being an expensive option to generate improvement, consultants should be used for the right reasons.

1) Bring experience or knowledge to your team that you don’t have. If you have a successful small business, your staff may be home-grown, which is not an entirely bad thing. Some experience, industry knowlege and cross-fertilization of ideas can occur at conferences, workshops or seminars. Another good way to infuse new ideas quickly is to bring in a consultant who has worked on the very problem or strategy you want to energize.  Just be careful of rejecting ideas because they’re NIH (not invented here).

2) Bring out the good ideas percolating within your organization. For various reasons, good ideas can flounder and die before they get heard by the ‘right ear’.  If you don’t have good ways to elicit and evaluate everyone’s suggestions, then a consultant will be the disinterested third-party who can ferret out the good ideas. A good consultant will also attribute those ideas to the person within the organization. It’s an inherent bias that executives listen more carefully to concepts for which a lot of money was paid than for ones that came free.  Thus, your team will appreciate the consultant carrying their ideas to you.

3) You need a revolution.  Consultants are expensive and you want to maximize the effort for the time. If you are looking to change the culture, and create a new way of operating the organization, be prepared for a lengthy contract. Or else your organization (and maybe you) will just wait it out till the consultant goes away and then return to “business as usual”. If that happens, you may either go out of business or end up hiring another consultant.

4) You need an independent sounding-board and a partner. There are times when you want to focus on the part of the business that only you can do. You need someone to help develop your team so your team is upgrading your marketing, your operations, your finances to world-class levels. There are struggles you have that can’t be shared with others inside your organization. We can listen and advise. Then you can enjoy the work for the reasons you got into the business in the first place.

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We Should Be “There” Already!?

Chances are Lean, Six Sigma, “Knock Your Socks Off” Customer Service and other improvment programs you’ve implemented haven’t given the results you expected or had been promised.  Individual projects have been effective, but the rest of the organization hasn’t latched onto the tools and way of thinking. 4ward Associates can provide the consulting and assessment of your corporate culture and the alignment of your corporate system elements, and let you know if you have the foundation for continuous improvement programs. We help you bring focus through key metrics, and engendering a collaborative environment. Trust us to bring you improvement. (We even offer a guarantee.) When you’re not sure how to get from point A to point B, we’ll be your business coach.

Without the right corporate values, metrics and the alignment and integration of corporate systems, most change programs fail or become a “fad of the month”. Focusing on the Upper Midwest (Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Nebraska), we will help you implement change in a way so that the progress is natural, adopted throughout the organization and achieving the results you need. 4ward Associates Big Questions

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No Programs Allowed!

We won’t sell you a program. In fact, we believe that programs get in the way of real corporate change. Our experience has borne this out. As well, studies by Beer, Eisenstaat and others in 1990, as published in Harvard Business Review, show that change programs fail because they are a program, and not integrated into the activity of the corporation.

We’ve been successful by promoting new activities, new behaviors, new policies because they make sense to everyone in the organization. We avoid the results reports to prove that department ABC did their program activity, so that someone else can report what’s happening in the program. All these reports get in the way of real accomplishments. The only benefit to the reports is easy communication with the rest of the organization about some successes. However, if the successes are happening, people will hear about it.

We don’t sell you a program. We create a partnership with you to coach your organization into higher performance. We’ll help you with a strategy, culture and system element analysis and integration to go beyond your wildest dreams.  

Strategy, culture and corporate system elements work together to create success. To give you a few examples: with two small changes, we led an effort that increased on-time delivery from 86% to 99.8% in two months, including a 50% reduction in WIP, 99% reduction in past-due parts, 20% more output and nearly double the number of demand hours on the core operations. If the company had planned to do that, these two strategic linchpins wouldn’t have been identified through normal strategic planning. They would have identified millions of dollars in investment for equipment and staff. The plans would have had qualifications: “We think  this will work if nothing else changes. We should get to 90% on-time delivery, at least.”  Two small changes, huge results: a change in personnel scheduling and a change in performance metric that emphasized the schedule effectiveness.

Also, besides profitability and stock value growth, we reversed wellness trends by leveraging the corporate culture into this area. Medical insurance premiums were the largest single expense outside of wages and materials. The culture already promoted collaboration, rewards as an organization, teamwork and ownership mentality. Wellness fit into the culture because it could be linked with benefits to oneself, benefits to the family and benefits to “your teammates” by helping reduce insurance premium expenses.

Those results wouldn’t have happened without first doing a lot work on the corporate systems (metrics, communication, integration and alignment of plans and goals, etc.) and the corporate culture (rewarding collaboration, enforcing values and expectations, coaching emphasis, etc.).

Invite us to help drive success in your organization.

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