Be Succinct

FreeImages.com/sanja gjenero

I recently saw a blog post that discussed taking notes electronically, on an iPad, rather than on paper, in order to reduce handling and administration. I tried that approach a few years ago, but I’ve now found that a simple 3 by 5 note card is even more effective for several reasons.

First, I walk around manufacturing and distribution facilities a lot, and often see things that I want to remember. Carry an electronic note taking platform and trying to actually take the notes can be problematic, but writing down a brief memory-jogger type of note on the card allows me to act on the observation when I’m ready to deal with it.

Second, I tend to restrict my note taking to only those points that drive objectives and change. Even in my interviews with executives during my projects, instead of trying to capture every word, I write down only those points that are highly relevant to the issue at hand. I find now that I’m much more efficient, and more importantly, I remain in the moment and actually hear those few important points that can lead to major improvement.

Stay in the moment, focus on objectives and key points, and only write down those things that really drive change.

© 2019 – Rick Pay – Al Rights Reserved

A Great Question: Why?

FreeImages.com/Adam Ciesielski

“Why” is a great question. Do you wonder why? The answer is simple: it puts things into context. It shows the future and sets the stage for people to understand the reason or purpose for their actions.

Take metrics for example. Many companies develop metrics because it seems like the right thing to do. They usually develop them by deciding how much – how much inventory, how much profit, how much overtime – but they rarely set them in the context of the ends they are trying to achieve.

First ask yourself “why?” It sets the reason for having metrics. What behaviors are you trying to change or encourage? What strategy are you trying to support?

Next time you are trying to improve almost anything, the first question to ask yourself is not “how much” but “why?”

© 2019 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Only the Paranoid Survive

FreeImages.com/Ramzi Hashisho

I subscribe to the theory of, “Only the paranoid survive.” Put forth by former Intel CEO Andrew Grove in his 1996 book, Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, I believe this adage is a word to the wise in any business.

In his book, Grove talks about strategic inflection points, which drive fundamental change. When they occur, it’s time for the company to wake up and listen. Think of Sears and Amazon. Sears was once one of the leading retailers in the country; an example of companies built to last. But they missed the disruptive approach that Amazon brought to the market, the inflection points, and now appear to be on their last legs.

In my business, I believe three things will help me respond to inflection points: change, raising the bar, and expert advice. To read more about these approaches, check out this issue of my Growth Accelerator newsletter.

 

© 2018, Rick Pay. All rights reserved.

Full Speed Ahead

FreeImages.com/Ramzi Hashisho

How can you create more speed in your company?

  1. Eliminate anything that isn’t needed. Rather than just trying to work faster, assess the process and eliminate unnecessary steps. One way to do this is through process mapping and asking the questions, “Why do we do this?” and “Does this step provide value to the customer and would they pay for it?”
  2. Shorten setup and changeover times in production and distribution. Reduce materials handling and waiting. Reduce part count, number of suppliers, and product assortment. One of my clients cut maintenance technician time by 30 minutes per day by changing the way the technicians’ vans were restocked. The result was over 60 hours per day of savings—15,000 hours per year. Not only did that reduce costs, but often the technicians could do an additional service call per day, which increased revenue as well.
  3. Measure lead times, cycle times, and on-time delivery. These measures drive problem-solving efforts and increase speed. A manufacturing client improved its shipped-on-time from 24 to over 80 percent simply by measuring and posting the results for the staff to see. Knowing the score inspired staff to make quick changes, which dramatically improved results.

Remember to get good first, then get fast. Also, slow down to speed up! Speed is often sacrificed to rework and mistakes or using larger batches to try to be efficient.

 

© 2018, Rick Pay. All rights reserved

This is an excerpt from Rick’s forthcoming book, Moving Into the Express Lane, coming this spring from Business Expert Press.

Measuring Results, Not Activities

FreeImages.com/Jason Antony

One of the key benefits of key performance measures (KPMs) is that they help you and your team focus on results rather than activities, and prevent you from falling into the “busy trap.” Unfortunately, an element of human behavior is that when we don’t know what to do, we tend to run in circles, staying busy but accomplishing very little. Good leaders armed with solid KPMs get everyone to settle down, focus on priorities and get results.

Measuring results helps reinforce priorities and keeps the team focused on what is important. Mid-level managers in particular need to avoid the busy trap of day-to-day urgencies (the “putting out fires” phenomenon), and instead keep driving toward their goals.

Smart companies design their metrics to drive innovation as much as (or more than) efficiency. Often companies set targets for improvement that are too low and don’t drive revolutionary change. Don’t just ask for 2% – 3% improvement; ask for 10% or 20%. The only way to achieve that is to think outside the box and innovate.

© 2017 Rick Pay, all rights reserved.

This is an excerpt from Rick’s next book, Moving Into the Express Lanes, coming out next year from Business Expert Press.

Only the Paranoid Survive

FreeImages.com/Ramzi Hashisho

I subscribe to the theory of Only The Paranoid Survive! Put forth by Andrew Grove, the former CEO of Intel in his 1996 book, Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, I believe this adage is a word to the wise in any business.

In his book, Grove talks about strategic inflection points, which drive fundamental change. When they occur, it’s time for the company to wake up and listen. Think of Sears and Amazon. Sears was once one of the leading retailers in the country; an example of companies built to last. But they missed the disruptive approach that Amazon brought to the market, the inflection points, and now appear to be on their last legs.

In my business, I believe three things will help me respond to inflection points: change, raising the bar, and expert advice. To read more about these approaches, check out my latest Growth Accelerator newsletter.

 

© 2017, Rick Pay. All rights reserved.

Be Succinct

I recently saw a blog post that discussed taking notes electronically, on an iPad, rather than on paper in order to reduce handling and administration. I tried that approach a few years ago, but I’ve now found that a simple 3 by 5 note card is even more effective for several reasons.

First, I walk around manufacturing and distribution facilities a lot, and often see things that I want to remember. Carry an electronic note taking platform and trying to actually take the notes can be problematic, but writing down a brief memory-jogger type of note on the card allows me to act on the observation when I’m ready to deal with it.

Second, I tend to restrict my note taking to only those points that drive objectives and change. Even in my interviews with executives during my projects, instead of trying to capture every word, I write down only those points that are highly relevant to the issue at hand. I find now that I’m much more efficient, and more importantly, I remain in the moment and actually hear those few important points that can lead to major improvement.

Stay in the moment, focus on objectives and key points, and only write down those things that really drive change.

© 2017 – Rick Pay – Al Rights Reserved

 

Leadership Trumps Efficiency

In Peter Drucker’s seminal work – The Concept of the Corporation – written in 1946, he presents his findings of the study of General Motors as an organization. It is the first book to talk about business as an organization in industrial society.

In the book, Drucker says, “…the ability of an institution to produce leaders is more important than its ability to produce efficiently and cheaply. Efficient and cheap production can always be reached, given the human abilities and the human organization. But without an able, responsible and enterprising leadership, willing and capable of taking the initiative, the most efficient institution cannot maintain its efficiency, let alone increase it.”

In today’s business world, we often get lost in the efforts to improve profitability through process improvement and cost reduction. Many of these efforts (up to 70% according to MIT, McKinsey and others) fail in part due to lack of engaged leadership.

Hiring and developing leaders is key to the potential success of companies and change initiatives. Leaders create the vision and are the champions of change. Success in any organization starts with leadership.

© 2014 Rick Pay – All rights reserved.

Preparing for the New Year

This time of year is a time to reflect on your company and/or organization, and whether it’s going in the direction you want it to go. Leaders should consider two things when planning for the new year.

Do you have a clear vision?

One of the key roles of a leader is to provide a vision that takes your organization where you want it to go. That vision needs to be understood by everyone in the organization, and fulfillment of it needs to lead to the results you want.

Do you have the right people in the right positions?

Getting the right people on the bus is vital to attaining the vision you have developed. As you move forward, do you have people with the traits that will take you where you want to go? Do they fit your desired culture? Do they have the skills you need? Can they implement change?

Having a clear vision and the right people to implement it is essential to your success in the  coming year.

© 2013 – Rick Pay – All Rights Reserved

Discipline Makes It Happen

We all know we need to lose weight, stop smoking, write more or make improvements in our businesses. In many cases we even know how to do it, yet we never seem to get it done. Why? Simply, we don’t have the discipline to carry it through. Actually doing it is the hard part and best intentions are not sufficient.

So, how do we develop discipline? There are four steps:

  1. Set clear objectives – this is often the “vision” or target state describing where you want to end up. For instance, you may want to lose weight, but put a number to it, for example, 25 pounds this year, or 10 pounds by Christmas. Notice not only the amount, but also a deadline. You can make it a stretch goal, but make it achievable or you won’t follow through.
  2. Develop a plan – decide how you are going to approach the process in a way that is engaging. If you hate going to the gym, maybe walking in the forest would help you persevere. To look at this in a business setting, if employees don’t want to remove waste to help the company, maybe they would if it would make their jobs easier.
  3. Do it regularly – and most importantly, put it in your calendar. Set aside a regular time for it. If you go to the gym, perhaps 7:00 AM every other day, or if you want to write more, perhaps the first hour in the morning. Regular short times are much better than infrequent longer times. Schedule it and it will be come a habit.
  4. Measure the results – weigh yourself regularly. Track the number of articles or blog posts you write each week. Measuring becomes its own reward and shows that you’re making progress.

Most of all, don’t give up. Things often get worse before they get better, so give it some time to start showing results. Then as the changes become habits, you’ll enjoy the new you and reap the rewards of your efforts.

© 2011-2013 – Rick Pay – Al Rights Reserved