Management Article

Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

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‘My small business has landed a few very lucrative contracts and we’re growing. Honestly, we’re now struggling with quality control. We have management systems in place, and that’s helping, but we’re still having issues. I don’t know where to begin to get a handle on this.” —John Q. CEO.

Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. Many business owners and CEOs make the effort to implement business management and supply chain systems. It’s a worthwhile investment. Naturally, those systems must be periodically audited to ensure compliance. What do you do when your company passes all the audits and still develops issues, however? All the boxes are checked, but the number of widgets being rejected by your quality control department is getting worrisome. You don’t want to even think about warranty issues with that new contract you just landed. Blaming your system may be the natural thing to do, but it may be that customizing the audit, rather than criticizing the system, is the ticket to getting your operations back on track.

James Brewton’s picture

By: James Brewton

Keeping every healthcare employee focused on continuous improvement, every day, is a huge challenge. It’s natural for people to lose sight of long-term goals and objectives due to the pressures of daily responsibilities. One powerful tool executives can use to keep continuous improvement at the top of everyone’s list is the employee idea campaign (EIC).

As a result of the Affordable Care Act, changes in reimbursement rates, and increasing competition, the new normal for hospitals and healthcare systems is determining how to provide higher patient satisfaction and care outcomes, but at lower cost. To address this enormous challenge, many organizations have launched lean, Six Sigma, and other continuous improvement efforts. Although many organizations have found some success with these programs, many employees’ improvement ideas go unheard unless they’re participating in a formal improvement team.

Jeffrey Phillips’s picture

By: Jeffrey Phillips

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a leadership team that is considering building an innovation capability in their business. I was asked a question I get infrequently, but one I always enjoy answering. The question is this: “What keeps businesses from innovating effectively?”

The answer that I think most leadership teams want is, “Good ideas.” After all, it’s easier to explain away the lack of innovation if you can say that most teams lack good ideas. A lack of good ideas, however, is almost never the appropriate response to the question. Most companies teem with reasonably good ideas, and in some cases great ideas. No, the reasons that corporate innovation fails are many and varied, almost as differentiated as the number of industries and business models and management styles that are in evidence.

Jess Scheer’s picture

By: Jess Scheer

T

he world’s worst-kept business secret is that most acquisitions fail. Depending on what metric you use to evaluate success, mergers miss their intended goals by as much as 85 percent of the time. With a failure rate that high, there’s no single cause, and there’s no silver bullet that will guarantee successful post-merger integration. When you read the postmortems on failed business combinations, it’s clear that the role of process management is too often overlooked as a strategy to reduce risk.

What could possibly go wrong when you ignore process tenets? Everything.

Case in point. Last week, I had dinner with an old friend who was exhausted after working all day—on his day off. Ever since his company was acquired, he spends his day putting out fires and consoling his demoralized colleagues. His business, a once-profitable midsized manufacturing company, is now a place where people cry—almost every day.

On paper, the acquisition made sense. A larger company needed greater manufacturing capacity to fulfill a new client’s purchase order. My friend’s business had excess capacity and the equipment necessary to make the products. What could possibly go wrong?

Maurice DeCastro’s picture

By: Maurice DeCastro

Would you market your business today the same way you were marketing it 30 years ago? Would you use the same technology? Would you lead your team the same way? I’m guessing most leaders would answer each question with a resounding “No.”

If that’s the case, why has the work culture for business presentations remained static for decades?

Every week here at Mindful Presenter we are called in by the HR business partners of large corporations to help employees “improve their presentation skills.” Upon further discussion we are often told: “It’s not joined-up thinking,” “Their message isn’t clear,” and “They’re boring.” 

When we go to see some of these employees’ presentations, the synopsis we were given seems to be spot on. However, when we get the employees in the training room and offer a little encouragement, guidance, and support, we witness an incredible transformation. They suddenly become imaginative, creative, and engaging speakers.

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Quality Digest’s picture

By: Quality Digest

When asked a direct question, telling the truth is always a good option, so is giving a direct answer. That being said, sometimes a parable is worth a thousand words.

“The kind of seed sown will produce that kind of fruit. Those who do good will reap good results. Those who do evil will reap evil results. If you carefully plant a good seed, you will joyfully gather good fruit.”
—Dhammapada

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like the yeast a woman used in making bread. Even though she put only a little yeast in three measures of flour, it permeated every part of the dough.”
—Matthew 13:33 New Living Translation

Ken Koenemann’s picture

By: Ken Koenemann

As a business leader, you spend a lot of your time figuring out how to win. With good reason: The most crucial job of every executive is to align efforts at every level of the organization to deliver wins for the week, for the quarter, and for the year.

The people at the front end of the business—the salespeople, the customer service reps, the machine operators, warehouse staff, and IT specialists—work deep inside everyday business processes. They often have no idea if they are winning, or what the score is, let alone how their actions affect the company’s overall success.

Failure to make such connections can dramatically hinder the performance of the entire business. Without support from the front lines, no top-level plan has a chance. That’s why you need to have a structured process for communicating current performance in ways that empower everyone to strive for wins every day.

That process, like so much else today, begins with data.

Ken Koenemann’s picture

By: Ken Koenemann

In my first article on relevant metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), I explained why limiting management’s strategic planning to high-level goal setting is doomed to failure. For strategic goals to be realized, they have to be translated into daily KPIs that are meaningful to everyone in the company. At my company, we approach this goal deployment process in three parts.

1. Cascade from the top, plan from the bottom

Goals always start at the top with companywide annual objectives. But when it comes time for deployment, business leaders must think from the bottom up about how the organization as a whole is going to meet those goals. Take a five-percent corporate cost reduction target as an example. Management’s first task is to break that five-percent figure down into specific tactics and actions throughout the company to achieve the target at the front end of the business.

Ken Koenemann’s picture

By: Ken Koenemann

During annual strategic planning meetings, the temptation is always to spend most of the time working on the business, discussing the big-picture strategic plans and breakthrough developments that are critical to the future of the company. But just looking at long-term plans ignores a critical part of the planning process: defining the annual goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be relevant in the day-to-day running of the business for turning those high-level goals into reality.

This exercise may seem too detailed to make it a big part of your annual strategy meeting, but it requires just as much focus and attention as your big-picture plans. Too often when business leaders present the annual goals, they simply send them down the line as blanket targets that they will use to evaluate the progress of every department. When they check back after the first quarter to see if everything is on track, it’s usually not and no one can explain why.

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