A business is more than what it does

August 27, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

In the business world, “growing pains” describes inefficiencies that creep into a business over time until such a point when the cumulative effects are quite debilitating.

During the past 4 years, many businesses have downsized and, due to revenue declines and limited budgets, needed action to optimize their systems and processes around new, lower revenue levels and lower staffing levels has been deferred.

These companies are doing more with fewer resources with great pain, pretty much driving those who remain at the company nuts. The employees are chronically overtaxed, highly stressed and waiting to flee the company in search of a new opportunity just as soon as they can.

A business is more than what it does. For a business to be “in business,” it must have systems and processes that eliminate people dependencies and allow new people to join the organization and make a positive impact in short order. This allows for greater agility and speed. It allows for growth or contraction.

Does a business have to be brought to its knees from a business execution standpoint before action can be taken? Absolutely not. My best clients proactively engage with me to look at these issues.

[Note: Read the entire blog post here.]

Thought for the week:

“Consumers choose when, where, how and if they engage with brands.” – Karen Quintos, Dell CMO

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Is Your Business Suffering Growing Pains?

August 25, 2012

A Canadian colleague, Rich Martin, used the expression “growing pains” during a conversation we had recently. I had not heard that expression in a number of years. In the business world, “growing pains” usually describes inefficiencies that creep into a business over time until such a point when the cumulative effects are quite debilitating.

For example, let’s look at the Boeing commercial aircraft division back in the 1990’s. Boeing’s processes hit the wall when annual unit volume hit 600 commercial aircraft. During a 90-day period, Boeing had to stop production and carefully audit the completion status of each plane as it was no longer clear what manufacturing processes had been completed and which remained. It was a huge embarrassment for the company, caused late delivery of aircraft and a revenue disruption which impacted Boeing stock price. This set-back came just as Airbus was beginning to take market share from Boeing. It was a very costly and humbling stumble for Boeing.

Growing pains are almost expected to occur at different revenue plateaus in a business’s evolution. High-tech companies have traditionally considered those plateaus being a “natural occurrence” at the $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, $200 and $500 million dollar revenue levels and again at the $1 billion dollar revenue level. Companies that enjoyed levels of success relatively rapidly never operationally planned for their success making “hitting the wall” all the more predictable and harsh when it occurs. Consider the Boeing example above.

During the past 4 years, many businesses have downsized and, due to revenue declines and limited budgets, needed action to optimize their systems and processes around new, lower revenue levels and lower staffing levels has been deferred. These companies are doing more with fewer resources with great pain, pretty much driving those who remain at the company nuts. The employees are chronically overtaxed, highly stressed and waiting to flee the company in search of a new opportunity just as soon as they can.

A lot of smaller businesses, however, never took the time to figure out what they needed from a process standpoint to efficiently run today’s business as well as tomorrow’s business. The owner took the lead and created jobs for himself/herself and others but left a business largely dependent on him or her. This imposes severe limitations if there is an opportunity to rapidly expand the business. When it comes to time to sell those businesses, there’s not much in place that is attractive to a potential buyer in terms of residual value and business upside undermining years of hard work and goodwill built over the years.

A business is more than what it does. For a business to be “in business,” it must have systems and processes that eliminate people dependencies and allow new people to join the organization and make a positive impact in short order. This allows for greater agility and speed. It allows for growth or contraction. And, it’s what makes a business far more valuable should the owner decide to retire or sell.

Does a business have to be brought to its knees from a business execution standpoint before action can be taken? Absolutely not. My best clients proactively engage with me to look at these issues.

Dave Gardner Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Dave Gardner

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Four Seasons leadership rocks!

August 20, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

I love it when I’m invited to an event at any Four Seasons.  In Silicon Valley, we’ve had our own Four Seasons in East Palo Alto since 2006.

This past week, I  reached out to the head of HR at the Four Seasons to understand how they are able to deploy such a remarkable team and provide such an incredible customer experience time and time again.  [Note: As I didn’t tell the head of HR that I was interviewing her for an article (because I wasn’t), I’m not going to share the details of my conversation. ]

However, I do want to share what happened as, it too, illustrates how the Four Seasons is able to create such a remarkable customer experience.

  • I called the hotel and simply asked to speak with the head of HR.  I was informed of her name and immediately transferred.
  • When a woman answered the phone, I simply told her my name, that I was a management consultant, and informed her who I wanted to speak with. Her response was something like, “One moment please,” and I was immediately transferred. I wasn’t interrogated about why I was calling. No blocking, no tackling, no running interference. I didn’t have to leave my phone number for a call back later. My request was fulfilled on the spot.
  • The woman I was transferred to answered her phone and we had an absolutely delightful, no-holds-barred conversation. I didn’t get her voice mail and the ensuing opportunity to leave a message–I got right through.

How often does this happen in today’s business world?  Almost never. It is so refreshing that I feel compelled to write about it.

I want to compliment the Four Seasons for superb execution on something this simple. It could have taken days to accomplish what transpired in seconds. But, it didn’t. And, the Four Seasons has created another “Wow” for me.

Are you and your company this easy to do business with?  If you are, rest assured you’ll be a stand out in your marketplace. And, if you’re not, you’ll stand out for all the wrong reasons.

Thought for the week:

“The poor, the unsuccessful, the unhappy, the unhealthy are the ones who use the word tomorrow the most.” – Robert Kiyosaki

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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$100 million security system fails at JFK airport

August 14, 2012

When we pay $100 million for a security system to protect a major, international airport from perimeter intrusion, you expect to receive what you paid for.

So, how is it a jet-skier was able to swim ashore after his jet-ski ran out of fuel, climb an 8 foot tall fence, walk undetected across 2 airport runways, and finally get stopped by a Delta airlines tarmac employee  who contacted airport security? You can read the article here.

And, to add insult to injury, they have booked this unwitting person with criminal trespass. You’ve got to be kidding me! We ought to give this chap the Congressional Medal of Honor for helping us understand that the $100 million system isn’t working.

The system was provided by a major defense contractor, Raytheon. The claims are that the system “exceeds Federal requirements.”  Well, if it meets the specifications, it certainly isn’t doing what it ought to do: alert security to a possible perimeter intrusion of the airport!

What on-going testing and validation is being done to ensure the system continues to work properly?  Assuming the system conformed to specifications when it was accepted and paid for, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is responsible for the operation of this security system. They dropped the ball. And, in so doing, put the flying public at risk.

And, I therefore, by the power invested in me, induct the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in the “Business Execution Hall of Shame.”

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

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What kind of customer experience are you creating?

August 13, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: customer experience

When a customer thinks about a company, his/her mind rapidly converges on a relatively few possible opinions about the brand:

  • Yum–they like and are drawn to the company
  • Yuck–they dislike and are turned off by the company
  • No reaction–they haven’t formed an opinion, either positive or negative, about the company

If your company is a “yum,” you’re in a very good place. If your company is neutral or has no opinion, you still have an opportunity to convert people to a “yum.” If you company is a “yuck,” you may have lost an opportunity to work with that customer again, particularly if there are alternative choices in the marketplace.

How do customers rate your company? If you aren’t striving for a “yum,” your company can’t possibly thrive.

Thought for the week:

“A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it.” – Jean de La Fontaine

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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Is your business people dependent or process and system dependent?

August 10, 2012

Keeping track of projects, meetings, tasks and conversations without appropriate tools and technologies can be a nightmare. You can either stand tall or spend your life endlessly chasing details, missing appointments, suffer poor business execution and lose information buried in emails that everyone on the team can benefit from.

The challenges collaborating with others within your company and even people outside your company can ultimately undermine your effectiveness and efficiencies.

Quite simply, you are either process and system dependent or people dependent. If you’re process and system dependent, please stop reading now. If you are people dependent, read on.

You may be getting business done today but lack process coherency, communication and efficiencies that you can gain by having processes and systems that align well with your individualized needs. And, as your business grows and evolves, will your processes be robust enough to support your business?

Here are some important questions:

  • What if there was a way to implement a technology platform that reflects the way you and your team actually need to work rather than adapting the way you work to a tool that only partially addresses your team’s needs?
  • What if these tools and processes not only worked well within your company but allowed you to invite people external to your organization to participate and collaborate with you?
  • What if these tools and processes could be customized or personalized for individual teams or work groups without having to go to I.T. for assistance?
  • What if this tool cut down on email interactions yet allowed for group interaction easily and transparently?
  • What if this tool could allow you to link specific documents to tasks, work groups, deliverables, etc., using a myriad of different document repositories?
  • What if these tools and processes allowed you and your team to execute with much greater precision?
  • What if these tools and processes ensured you could determine the status of issues that are pertinent to you or your team in just seconds?
  • What if these tools and processes could be implemented within a few days, not weeks, months or years?
  • What if these tools and processes required a minimal technology investment?

At this point, I hope I have your attention. A typical project follows this sequence:

  1. Identification of business process needs and priorities.
  2. Define work spaces and specialized applications to support the teams that will be using the work spaces.
  3. We sit with your team, get an understanding of your current processes, identify process breakdowns and areas for improvement.
  4. We look at your processes, simplify where possible, and examine how the processes fit together.
  5. We create the work spaces and processes to align with your individualized process needs.
  6. Invite team members to join the work spaces.
  7. Configure the work spaces and applications to meet team needs. Team members participate in this process.
  8. Training and orientation—business transformation begins—just days after you started!
  9. Support change implementation and process improvements.

Without appropriate tools and processes, you do not have the insights you need to manage your business effectively and efficiently. If you can’t monitor your work-in-process, you can’t manage your work-in-process. If you can’t manage your work-in-process, you can’t manage your business.

We can help you close your business execution gaps quickly and efficiently and leave you to use these tools without being reliant on us.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Dave Gardner

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India infrastructure is key to economic growth

August 6, 2012

Note: This posting is based on my weekly “Thank God It’s Monday” which is offered to help companies thrive!

This week’s focus: business execution

India is a powerhouse, emerging economy with a population of about 1.2 billion comprising 17% of the earth’s population of 7 billion people.

Last week, India power outages impacted 700 million people in the northern portion of the country. As my father so aptly pointed out during dinner last week, 1/10th of the earth’s population was without power.

Researching further, I came to understand that, on a daily basis, the region impacted by the power outages is only able to obtain about 92% of its power needs. Every day, people in the northern half of India wake knowing there is a power shortage.

Infrastructure of all types is key to sustaining economic growth in India. Without constant infrastructure development, this region in India cannot thrive.

What infrastructure vulnerabilities does our nation have that are known yet little urgency exists to correct the problem? The I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 was actually identified as a risk back in 1990. Now, there is a multi-billion effort to repair Minnesota bridges that is 50% complete. What threats are there to our economic security?

Thought for the week:

“It used to be that in school we learn and then take the test. Now in life I get the test and then start to learn.” – Keith Ferrazzi

What do you think? I welcome your blog comments!

___

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting

http://www.gardnerandassoc.com

© 2012 Gardner & Associates Consulting  All Rights Reserved

Note:  To receive an email version of “Thank God It’s Monday” to start your week, please subscribe here.  I would very much appreciate your suggesting to others that they subscribe.

Privacy Statement:  Our subscriber lists are never rented, sold, or loaned to any other parties for any reason.

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