By Miriam Boudreaux Article
“The resolutions I propose in this article go a step further from the average “we all need to improve” type of goals. These resolutions seek a fundamental change in your behavior as part of the management team and leader of your organization, in order for deep seated improvement to actually happen. …
Start with the Basics: Metrics
Most organizations nowadays have some kind of objectives, metrics or KPIs that are used to measure a certain area they want to improve. … having metrics is a fundamental and basic step to measure improvement. The old premise “if you don’t measure it, how do you know you are improving”, holds very true for any organization. …
Involvement of People
It is time you bring relevant information and knowledge out from the groupies into the sea of knowledge-hungry employees in your organization. You must involve all the people in your continual improvement efforts, from shop floor employees, to Accounting, to Human Resources, …
Use Leading Indicators of Customer Satisfaction
If your number one way of seeking customer feedback is through customer complaints, quantity of products returned or the amount of money paid in credits, then you are strictly measuring customer satisfaction through lagging indicators. You need to shift your focus from being reactive to actually being proactive, by using leading indicators of customer satisfaction. …
Promote the use of Root Cause Analysis tools
Imagine a customer returned one of your products because the cable was too short and all you say is “Let’s not waste our time in research, let’s just get the right size cable, fix it and send it back!. … when you don’t take the time to actually contain and investigate the true root causes of a problem, then problems are bound to resurface or happen again. …
Last but not Least: Management Commitment
“Leaders must demonstrate quality excellence by their own actions”. ….”
“So what is it going to be this year? Same old resolutions to:
Lose Weight, Pay off Debts. Save More Money, Provide Better Income for Family, Spend More Quality Time with Family
Or maybe some business-related resolutions for the new year:
Cut Expenses, Increase Sales, Improve Product Quality, Build Partnerships with Suppliers, Reduce Short-term and Long-term Debt
Well, they really aren’t all that different, are they? We all vow each year to try harder to do the things we know we should do – get in better shape, physically, financially, emotionally. …
First, the easy part – Decide what you want to achieve; what you want to make happen; what most needs to be done. Then, the hard part – Set your GOALS.
Set Specific Goals
Set Measurable Goals
In setting your goals, it is important to be as specific as you can. Nobody knows your business like you do. Nobody knows what your people are capable of as well as you do. And only you know what is really important to you. So you have to be the one to set the goals and communicate them to everyone else.The more specific and more measurable your goals, the easier it will be to tell when you reach them. …
Don’t wait for this time next year to sit back and look at this list and see how you did. Post your goals where you, and everyone else, can see them. Measure how you are doing against your goals, and adjust as necessary. Do this at all the measurement points you built into the plan (monthly, quarterly, whatever intervals you selected).”
By Dr. Andrew Makar Article
“1. I will update my project schedule weekly and share the updated plan with the team.
The project schedule is one key document that needs to be revisited every week as project teams report progress. Project schedules are not intended to be cast in stone but rather serve as a forecasting tool that can adjust and incorporate re-planning. Spend 30 minutes to an hour a week updating the project schedule, reviewing it and obtain input from the team on scheduling changes.
2. I will document meeting minutes and send them out by the end of the day.
I know we all abhor meeting minutes, and transcribing them from scribbled notes into a meaningful MS-Word format can be a challenge when the day is packed with meetings. If you don’t get your notes and key action items out by the end of the day, they will likely fall behind–and few people respond to late meeting minutes. That’s why I advise using a mind mapping tool to document your meeting minutes and send them out that day. (Consider this article, Mind Map Your Meetings, on how to incorporate just-in-time meeting minutes into your day.)
3. I will send out my meeting materials the day prior, not five minutes before.
I will readily admit I am guilty of sending out key materials a few minutes before the meeting so everyone has the latest copy. The problem is that some documents need to be reviewed or printed before discussing them in a meeting. I’ve been in a few meetings where executives chastised the project manager for not sending them out earlier so they could review the materials. To avoid this embarrassing situation, I send out the materials the day before (maybe at 11:59 at night…but at least I’m avoiding the appearance of being unprepared as I implement just-in-time meeting materials). …
5. I will encourage my management to conduct “skip level” meetings with my team members.
Successful project managers can’t deliver unless they are supported by a team. Project managers should recognize their team members and share the accolades within the management spotlight. One way to do this is encourage your manager to have skip level meetings with your project team members. It will give your team members some additional visibility to a manager or executive that may not know specifically how your team contributes to the organization. It also provides an opportunity for team members to provide unfiltered feedback and new ideas. ….”
“Leadership is not an inanimate object. It has a face, and more
importantly, it has a heart. The good leaders do not merely
command respect, they earn it. A leader who rules with an iron
fist will influence people once. A leader who rules with a kind
heart will influence people for a lifetime. We like to associate
with leaders who see themselves as humans, and not an
extraordinary species. For this reason, two of the greatest
leaders we personally respect and admire are Mother Teresa
and Mahatma Gandhi. This being a season of giving, let us
reflect upon our leadership and managerial style with this
familiar and heart-warming story.”
Story: The Little Match Girl
By Doug Dickerson Article
“We all have natural gifts and abilities; embrace them. Rudolph was the object of scorn by the other reindeer who mistakenly thought that because he was different from the others, he didn’t have anything to contribute.
We all come in different shapes, sizes, and with unique giftedness. It is not in the similarities that we stand out, but in our differences. The gifts and talents you bring to the table of your business or organization may not look like anything else in your company, but that is your gift. As you embrace and celebrate those gifts, others will also come to appreciate what you have to offer.
We all face opposition; ignore it. Because his appearance was obviously different from others around him, Rudolph faced opposition. There will always be an element of people who oppose you not based on your appearance as in the story, but because you bring a different set of eyes to the problem, you bring a different attitude, and you bring an optimistic mindset to the challenges your company faces.
When you make up your mind that what causes you to stand out is what will propel you to the top, others will be faced with a challenge: go there with you or be left behind. But regardless of the opposition you face, never surrender your giftedness to opposition.
Your moment to shine will eventually come; welcome it. It is your faithfulness in the little things; day by day, that you prove yourself. Even though Rudolph faced opposition from the others, he didn’t allow their negativity to defeat him. In the moment of crisis when Santa needed a go-to Reindeer, Rudolph was ready. Armed with his natural giftedness and positive attitude, he navigated the team of fellow reindeer to a successful completion of the Christmas mission.
Your moment of destiny will come one day and it will not always come in the manner in which you expected. Open your eyes to all the possibilities that your leadership can provide. As you show yourself faithful in the little things your big moment will come.
This Christmas season, celebrate your gift as a leader, rise above your opposition, and stand ready to embrace your destiny. As you do, you will have a greater understanding of just how special the season can be.”
“Don’t be cross, uncle,” said the nephew.
“What else can I be,” returned the uncle, “when I live in such a world of fools as this? … What’s Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer … If I could work my will,” said Scrooge indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with merry Christmas on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!’
That exchange, of course, is from Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, published in 1843. …
Scrooge was misunderstood. He was really ahead of his time; a 21st century CEO stuck in the horse-and-buggy era.
He knew how to control health care costs. Do you think Tiny Tim got his crutch through the Scrooge & Marley employee medical plan? Not a chance.
Corporate America has spent the last decade shifting the rising cost of health care from itself to its employees, an action quite Scroogy. The average employee lucky enough to have insurance pays 20 percent of the cost, up from 13 percent in 2001, according to Hewitt Associates.
Still, Scrooge knew how to motivate his workers. He made sure the help appreciated the cost of their employee benefits.
“You’ll want all day tomorrow, I suppose?” said Scrooge (to Cratchit on Christmas Eve.)
“If quite convenient, sir.”
“It’s not convenient,” said Scrooge, “and it’s not fair. If I was to stop half-a-crown for it, you’d think yourself ill-used, I’ll be bound?”
The clerk smiled faintly.
“And yet,” said Scrooge, “you don’t think me ill-used, when I pay a day’s wages for no work.”
The clerk observed that it was only once a year.
“A poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every twenty-fifth of December!” said Scrooge, buttoning his great-coat to the chin. “But I suppose you must have the whole day. Be here all the earlier next morning.”
Did you ever wonder where HR got the idea to send you those annual letters totaling up the cost to the company of your wages, health insurance, vacation, pension and such, making you look terribly expensive to keep around? Now you know.
When Cratchit would ask for a couple of lumps of coal to keep warm at his desk, Scrooge would threaten to fire him.
Good pay and earned loyalty may be fine employee motivators, but they’re awfully expensive. Guilt, fear and insecurity will do the trick in a pinch.
Lots of us are feeling a pinch these days. Quite a few of us, including me, took a pay cut rather than risk being cast out into a job market of 9.6 percent unemployment, where the loss of our employee health coverage could turn our kids into Tiny Tims.
Like a modern executive, Scrooge knew that corporations exist to return value to the shareholder — which in Scrooge’s case was himself.”
By Anya Martin Article
“In 2010, New York’s Operation Santa alone received a record 1 million letters, double the number received in 2009, and coordinated approximately 40,000 responses to children in need, said Darleen Reid, a U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman.
One letter to Santa this year came from Victoria, a grandmother who is recovering from heart surgery. She asks for clothes, toys and a “little radio” for Nisa Marie, her 6-year-old granddaughter. Nisa’s mother has been unemployed for two-and-a-half years. “This might be a good Christmas; maybe the worst Christmas ever,” Victoria wrote. “She applies, applies and applies and never gets hired anywhere.” …
The U.S. Postal Service has been receiving children’s letters to Santa for more than a century, but in 1912, then-Postmaster General Frank Hitchcock started an official program to allow postal employees and other good Samaritans to answer the letters and send presents. In 1940, the amount of mail addressed to the jolly old elf had grown so significantly that charities and businesses were invited to join Operation Santa.
Fontana said he’s certain the recession triggered the higher number of letters in 2010, a year which he called “the busiest ever in my Operation Santa career.” “This year is starting off as a record year, too,” he said. “The kids need all the help they can get.” Fontana supervises 21 postal “elves” who open “Dear Santa” letters and determine which ones indicate a child in need. … Individuals may select up to 10 letters for “adoption,” but organizations can commit to more and distribute them to employees or volunteers, he said.
Once a gift has been purchased, the volunteer or group then brings the letter and gift back to the post office and pays the postage. Postal workers pack the gift, check the letter’s number against a database for the child’s address, and mail it to the child. …
How to play Santa
About 75 post offices around the nation are participating in Operation Santa this year. To adopt letters, individuals, businesses and nonprofits can check this link to find a List of participating post offices. … to ensure the letter writers’ privacy, now all letters must be picked up in person from a designated Operation Santa location. … The deadline to volunteer and mail a gift for Operation Santa is Dec. 23, the last day on which a package mailed by overnight express service can reach a child before Christmas.”
By Jeremy Jackson Article
Wanna Create A Great Product? Fail Early, Fail Fast, Fail Often
“Prototyping is underutilized in product development. And you don’t need specialized knowledge to develop them. …
1. Low-Fidelity Prototyping
Starting the prototyping process at the pencil-and-paper level is the least expensive and fastest way to visualize and iterate design ideas. It give’s a designer’s idea physical expression almost immediately — with no specialized technical knowledge required. …
2. Medium-Fidelity Prototyping
Often executed as wireframes, medium-fidelity prototypes are intended to highlight only the most macro-aesthetic details of an interface’s content and design. … when showing a working wireframe prototype to an end-user or stakeholder, a design team can effectively evaluate how efficiently the design allows users to achieve their goals.
3. High-Fidelity Prototyping
High-fidelity prototypes are intended to portray the end vision for the interface and usually include realistic content, refined interactions, transitions, and animated effects. Prototyping in high-fidelity is clearly the most time-consuming way to prototype, but it goes a long way in usability testing and design presentations. … Highly polished prototypes can easily be mistaken for the final product. When creating the prototype, resist the urge to pack in as many features as possible. Remain focused and ensure that the general concept is being clearly conveyed. Gear your efforts toward the most-used features. Try to demonstrate one-third of the interface, at most.”
by Josh Bernoff Article
Welcome to the Age of the Customer. Invest accordingly.
“Everyone has a different wake up call. Maybe it was the day you heard Amazon is selling more books on Kindle than on paper. When was the last time you talked to a travel agent? Or maybe you realized the world had changed when you whipped out your iPhone in Home Depot and checked the ratings before buying that air conditioner. Disruption is rampant, it’s hitting every single industry, caused by customers with powerful technology on their side. The question is not whether your industry will be disrupted. The question is when.
We took a close look at Michael Porter’s five forces, the definitive framework businesspeople use to analyze competition. There’s no longer any barrier to potential entrants or substitutes — in a digital world, competition can come from anywhere. Customers have real-time information about pricing, product features and competitors; they hold all the advantages. And the key source of supply now is talent — and talent can get up and leave. The competitive barriers that Porter defined matter far less now. The only sustainable source of competitive advantage, the only defensible position, is to concentrate on knowledge of and engagement with customers. (Scroll down for video.)”
“In 1948, the legendary baseball manager Leo Durocher declared that “nice guys finish last.” Although Durocher would later deny the quote, his pithy line summarizes a popular and pessimistic take on human nature. When it comes to success, we assume that making it to the top requires ethical compromises. Perhaps we need to shout and scream like Steve Jobs, or cut legal corners like Gordon Gekko: the point is that those who win the game of life don’t obey the same rules as everyone else. And maybe that’s why they’re winning.
Well, it turns out Durocher and all those pessimists were right: nice guys really do finish last, or at least make significantly less money. … levels of “agreeableness” are negatively correlated with the earnings of men. … There are six facets to aggreeableness: trust, straightforwardness, compliance, altruism, modesty and tender-mindedness.
… it helps to understand the essence of disagreeableness. Because being disagreeable doesn’t mean you behave like Ari Gold. It doesn’t mean you are a sociopath or intentionally inflict pain on others. Instead, those on the disagreeable spectrum are generally pretty decent folks, described by their peers as mostly amiable. However, these disagreeable people do consistently exhibit one special trait: They are willing to “aggressively advocate for their position during conflicts.” While more agreeable people are quick to compromise for the good of the group — conflict is never fun — their disagreeable colleagues insist on holding firm. They don’t mind fighting for what they want.”
“Most successful young people don’t look inside and then plan a life. They look outside and find a problem, which summons their life. A relative suffers from Alzheimer’s and a young woman feels called to help cure that disease. A young man works under a miserable boss and must develop management skills so his department can function. Another young woman finds herself confronted by an opportunity she never thought of in a job category she never imagined. This wasn’t in her plans, but this is where she can make her contribution.
… when you read a biography of someone you admire, it’s rarely the things that made them happy that compel your admiration. It’s the things they did to court unhappiness — the things they did that were arduous and miserable, which sometimes cost them friends and aroused hatred. It’s excellence, not happiness, that we admire most.
Finally, graduates are told to be independent-minded and to express their inner spirit. But, of course, doing your job well often means suppressing yourself. As Atul Gawande mentioned during his countercultural address last week at Harvard Medical School, being a good doctor often means being part of a team, following the rules of an institution, going down a regimented checklist.
Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.”
By Penelope Trunk Article
“When I was new to the workforce, I saw two ends of a spectrum. On one end, risking one’s life to save dying children, and on the other end, hedge-fund banking to make millions.
If you see the work world that way, then you feel compelled to choose between making good money or doing good deeds. But at this point, I don’t think the world breaks down like that. I think all jobs are meaningful.
1. Meaningfulness comes from relationships.
My introduction to this way of thinking was Sonja Lyubomirsky’s research about happiness and work …. She found that janitors are happier than lawyers and the discrepancy arises from the amount of meaningfulness they perceived in their work.
The janitors felt that they were helping people by keeping the school running well. They knew the students and the teachers and they had a nice relationship with them: people asked for help, the janitor gave help, the person thanked the janitor.
With the lawyers, it’s the opposite. People hate having to ask a lawyer for help. … On top of that, a lawyer charges by the hour so there is almost never a thank you in exchange for a small piece of work. …
5. Look for opportunities.
My step-mom had cancer for more than a decade. She had a breast removed, she went into remission, then back to the hospital, then remission. … she kept going to work. The stability in her life was her job. … When she couldn’t be at the office, her co-workers took over her workload so her job would be there for her when she returned. Every time.
When an office comes together to support someone in crisis the whole office is infused with meaning. The strength they gave my step-mom by enabling her to come to work, in turn gave strength to the family members trying to help take care of her. … Look around you, all the time — look for people at work who need help with their work. Caring for your co-workers might be the most meaningful part of work for all of us.”
By Alina Tugend Article
Doing the Ethical Thing May Be Right, but It Isn’t Automatic
“FOR the last few weeks, the sex abuse scandal at Penn State and the harassment claims against the Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain have been fodder for discussion at my house. The same is true, I assume, around the country.
Putting aside the specifics of each case, one question that has come up is, “What would I do?” That is, if I saw what seemed to be a crime or unethical act committed by a respected colleague, coach, teacher or friend, would I storm in and stop it? Would I call the authorities immediately? Would I disregard the potentially devastating impact on my job or workplace or beloved institution?
Absolutely, most of us would probably reply. I think so, others might respond. And the most honest answer? I don’t know.
As much as we would like to think that, put on the spot, we would do the right — and perhaps even heroic — thing, research has shown that that usually isn’t true. “People are routinely more willing to be critical of others’ ethics than of their own” … our faith in ourselves isn’t borne out by history or research … The most well-known example of this in academia is the experiment conducted by the Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the early 1960s. … For every wrong answer, the teacher could shock the learner, increasing the intensity of the shock for each wrong answer. ….”
By Dan Rockwell Article
On Useful Candor
“The reason we aren’t candid with people is we are protecting someone. We may protect someone else, our self, or both.
Five things we protect:
- Status quo.
Why we protect:
- Capability. For example, we protect 120 pound boxers from 220 pounders.
A better way:
The guiding rule for candor is “usefulness.”
Candor is not saying everything you feel regardless of the consequences. That type of openness is useful in some areas but not in all.
A leader’s speech is always candid and useful. …
On candor that is not useful:
- Constantly repeating complaints isn’t useful its self-defeating.
- Candor apart from usefulness is cruel.
- Seeks the highest good of others.
- Never publicly blows off steam.
- Is mission guided, vision driven, and defined by shared values.
- Shifts through complaining to asking for options and solutions.
Rather than protecting someone, yourself, or your organization, have useful candor.”
by Jens Martin Skibsted and Rasmus Bech Hansen Article
Short-Term Thinking Is Our Biggest Problem. Here’s 3 Ways To Fight It
“In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon asked China’s first premier, Zhou Enlai, for his assessment of the French Revolution, 183 years after the revolution’s conclusion. Zhou’s response: “It is too early to say.”
Although we believe that the democracy that resulted from the French Revolution can be judged a success, the jury’s still out on some of the major challenges we still face. We are experiencing a major paradox: While problems and issues, like the global-warming crisis and the energy-water nexus, become more complex and require longer time frames to solve, the West is becoming increasingly shortsighted. China’s main competitive advantage over Europe and the United States may be its broader perception of time. Even the present financial crisis could have been avoided had we been looking at century-long cycles rather than four-year political periods.
Part of the problem is that the quickening pace of, well, just about everything is deemed a benefit. Over time, our political attention spans have adjusted to short electoral terms, the time it takes to market products is shrinking, and myopic quarterly reports set the business horizon. Just think: Computerized flash-trading practices recognize movements in market sentiment in split seconds.
Since hairsplitting shortsightedness is driven by technological and cultural changes, the trend will be hard to circumvent. But here are three suggestions to help the West develop a longer, healthier view of time: ….”