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Friday, November 30, 2007
There's a rugby tournament going on, today and tomorrow. Below are today's scores, but first some information and commentary. I discovered two more teams today, Maui Rugby, which turns out to be a team as well as an organization organizing and developing youth rugby, both boys and girls. Excellent! And Tama Sule Ie Rugby Club. They're out in Nanakuli, on Oahu, and they practice Mon, Tue, Thur, and Fri from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, at Nanakuli Beach Park. Maui Rugby practices at a field on Shaw Street in Lahaina, and they have directions and contact info on their website. I also met the new president of the Hawaii State Rugby Union. This Union is news to me, but it looks like there are some people who are serious about getting things organized here. Excellent! I'll put a link to their website, but it seems that there was some technical difficulty putting it up (I was told it was just put up yesterday) and there's nothing there yet. Hopefully it will be fixed by the time you read this.
I'm also told there's going to be a clinic for referees on January 11-12, 2008. I'm also told it's going to be run by the head of referees for USA Rugby. That will be good, not just for training refs and passing on information, but in developing stronger relations with USA Rugby.
Now, almost ready for game results, but I have to make some comments. The tournament is being played by teams that are composed almost entirely of Pacific Islanders; Samoa, Tonga, New Zealand, and I don't know which other islands. There is, or has been, a stereotype of Pacific Islander teams. Whether they were true or not, the stereotype was there. But after watching these games today, any preconceived notions I had are gone, and yours should be too. There was some great rugby played today, and all the games were clean and well controlled. There was definitely some physical play, but it was all conducted at high standards. I wanted to mention that for any naysayers out there. And, in case anybody's interested, I'm haole.
And it goes without saying, rugby people are good people. Everyone I met today, and the past several weeks I've been out gathering information, is just wonderful. The tournament organizers, refs, coaches, players, and the fans. And tomorrow's day 2.
So, the scores:
Islanders (withdrew and forfeited games)
Tama Sulu Ie
Maui Rugby - 13 vs. Barbarians - 5
Maui Rugby played a man short due to not arriving on time from the flight over, but scored two tries and kicked one penalty to defeat the Barbarians, who scored one try. The first half was very well played by both teams, before getting a little sloppy in the second half. I have to mention that Mark stole one lineout from Maui (his big play of the day, per him). Three cheers for us old guys. I have noticed that fitness is a big issue with all the teams I've seen play the last few weeks. Fitness, tackling (effective tackling, that is), and ball control are the big areas that need work. There is no lack of enthusiasm though. Makes you want to get out there on the field.
Hurricanes win by forfeit over Islanders
Tama Sule Ie - 10 vs. Kalihi Raiders - 5
Tama Sule Ie scored one try, with conversion, and a dropkick. That dropkick was great. Totally unexpected, from about 30 meters out. The Raiders scored one try on an outstanding play that saw great passing and support.
Hurricanes - 26 vs. Barbarians - 0
The Barbarians suffered from their fitness. After playing their morning game, of 20 minute halves, they looked tired and played tired. They've got some potential and some good players, but we'll have to work on that fitness. The Hurricanes scored four tries, and converted three of them.
Kalihi Raiders - 8 vs. Maui Rugby - 8
I was too busy talking to make any worthwhile comments about this game, except to note one player from the Raiders. This guy is good. To look at him you might mistake him for a prop, but he plays, I think, Inside Center (refer back to my talking and not paying attention). He's got wheels, can cut and run, and can run you over.
Tama Sulu Ie won by forfeit over Islanders.
Tomorrow, the games start at 11:00 am (Kapiolani Park). And I'm told there's an after tournament dinner, to be held at the Puerto Rican Hall in Kalihi. I'll have to look up where that is, but it's $10 to get in and you get food and good company.
Now I have to tell you about Jim (not his real name). Actually, that's how he introduced himself, but he's from Japan and I know his real name is not Jim. He wandered over to the park this morning and stayed all day. He's 56 years old and plays Senior Rugby for a team in Kobe, Japan. He used to be a flanker, but now plays out on the wing (there's a story behind that), and gets cold alot standing out there. Another reason to be a forward, no chance to get cold. And Jim's goal is to be the #1 oldest rugby player in the world. But he has to play for another 50 years. Apparently, the oldest rugby player is 103 years old. Hang in there Jim.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
To be successful, an organization must be integrated, from top to bottom. The entire organization must move in the same direction, towards the same goals. This can be done, and is being done in many successful organizations. An organization that is disjointed will not only under-utilize its resources, weakening itself, it will pull itself in different directions, maybe even pull itself apart. Business or rugby, for-profit or non-profit, to be successful you must be integrated. So how to do that?
Strategic Planning. I work with organizations to develop effective strategic planning process, and I write and give presentations on the topic. Just the words, strategic planning, cause many eyes to roll, but that’s because the process has a bad reputation. Much like rugby used to have a bad reputation, but we’ve overcome that, for the most part, and so can strategic planning. What I’m talking about is an effective process to set goals, and then achieve them.
First, the simple basics of this process, then a plan for United States rugby. Rugby in the United States is disjointed, and it needs to be integrated. It can be done, and here’s a method to do it. An effective strategic plan consists of four elements:
1) Products & Services
It is also backed up with an Action Plan and an effective Performance Measurement System. And this is a process, and ongoing process, not something that’s performed once a year resulting in a piece of paper that sits in a drawer. The plan must be infused throughout the organization, from the top executive to the lowest level individual.
Now, no matter what you think, USA Rugby is a good organization. My thoughts are to enhance the organization, integrate the entire rugby community, and raise the level and awareness of rugby throughout the country. You can also use this same methodology in your business, and should.
With each of the four dimensions, specific goals or objectives must be identified. They have to be specific and measurable, and they have to be realistic, though they should be stretch goals. USA Rugby offers a variety of products and services. The various teams that are supported, including the Men’s and Women’s National Teams, the training camps, coaching programs, player registrations, are all products and services. For strategic goals, the organization must identify products and services that it will offer in the future, either new ones or modifications of existing ones. For an organization of this size and maturity, five years out at a minimum should be looked at, with some 10 or 20 year goals included. What products and services will USA Rugby be offering five years from now? That should be spelled out in the plan.
For markets, you’re looking at different segments. These can be geographic segments, age and gender segments, or anything else that makes sense. This also includes the fan segments. Right now, rugby in the U.S. primarily consists of players and former players. The market has to expand beyond that, to the general public, but specific market segments must be identified and targeted over a specific time horizon.
Financial causes problems for some people, because it refers to more than just a budget. It consists of defined targets for revenue, costs, and profit margins. I have no idea what the budget for USA Rugby is, but let’s say it’s $10 million a year in revenue. The strategic plan might include a goal of $20 million in revenue five years from now, or sponsorship contracts will total $10 million, or administrative costs will decrease to 5% of revenue. Whatever they are, they are specific targets, not vague or fuzzy numbers.
Structure is another area that causes some confusion. Structure includes things like specific positions, operating divisions, and departments. What will your organization look like five years from now? What will the reporting system look like, how will the operating divisions relate. Again, these goals have to be specific. The structure of a $20 million organization may look quite a bit different than that of a $10 million organization. But maybe not. Either way, you have to define it.
After you defined the goals in these four dimensions, the Action Plan integrates them. You might not offer all your products and services in all your markets, so you need to define which products in which markets, and the revenue provided by each product in each market. This is also where you come up with a more detailed timeline, and the prerequisites for tasks. To get to $20 million in revenue five years from now, what will the revenue be in four years? In three, two, and one year from now? And if you’re going to offer a particular service five years from now, what will have to be done in three years, and what has to be done today? The thing to remember with the Action Plan is that it is still a high level plan. The individual divisions, units, and people will have far more detailed plans, task lists, and to-do lists. But they all flow down from the strategic plan and they all support that plan.
If you want to actually achieve all these goals and plans, you have to measure your performance. A performance measurement system is not the annual review that everyone loathes and that accomplishes nothing. An effective performance measurement system ties the whole organization together and gets it moving in the same direction, to achieve those goals defined in the strategic plan. A performance measurement system is not a punishment system. Performance measurements have two purposes; 1) measure progress, and 2) influence behavior. You have to measure the progress you’re making towards your goals, to keep on track and make any adjustments that need to be made, and you have to guide everyone’s behavior towards achieving your goals.
Everyone involved with rugby needs to working towards the same goals; an active, robust, popular, and respected sport, enjoyed by millions of players and fans. The whole rugby universe needs to be financially stable, from the smallest local club to the governing body, USA Rugby. Every game that is played, every tournament held, every training camp, must help to move the organization towards its defined goals. Measurement like the number of new players recruited, the number of players retained each year, the increase in revenue or budget of a club or territorial union, will help to measure progress and influence behavior. Again, this is not punishment, but if a club knows that they’re being reviewed and measured on financial stability and player retention, they’ll work towards meeting their goals. And by meeting their goals, they’ll be helping the organization meet its higher level goals. All the way up and down throughout the entire organization.
It won’t be easy, and there will be some resistance, but if everyone is moving in the same direction, everyone involved with rugby will benefit. If you’re used to playing in front of 20 old or injured buddies today, wouldn’t you be thrilled to play in front of 100 cheering fans tomorrow? You can still have a beer afterwards.
And you can do your part today; Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The core of both industries is managing resources. The resources are different, but the management of them is not that different. And when it comes to software to help run your business, the differences are even less. The first thing to remember is that software is a tool. When the right tool is used, and used correctly, it is a big help. If the wrong tool is used, or if the right tool is used incorrectly, it hurts more than it helps. Technology will not solve your problems. It can help you run your operations more effectively, or it can send you quickly into a downward spiral. The choice is yours.
The choice is yours because before you look to a technology solution to solve your problems, do some analysis of your business first. Look at how you do things, what works, what's causing you trouble. Then work to improve your basic processes and look for ways to improve the entire organization. If technology can help you improve, along with or after you've got all your processes working well, then use it. And remember that you can't just buy some software, install it, and expect everything to be all hunky-dory. A software implementation is a huge undertaking, especially if it's and enterprise wide system. Besides all the training, pre-, during, and post-installation, it's a huge cultural shift for the organization. Even if you've already got an existing system, switching to a new one is just as big a deal.
So, sports management and manufacturing. Not much of a difference after all.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Did you know there's a non-profit foundation with the sole purpose of promoting rugby? They primarily support youth rugby, from the really small fry through high school, but also offer support for coaches and some other things? Well, I didn't. The United States Rugby Football Foundation. They were founded in 1963. How come I've never heard of them? And another question, why aren't they associated with USA Rugby? They are separate organizations, but they're too separate. They can remain separate but still be sister organizations. The missions overlap to a great extent, and I think the Foundation would gain a lot more exposure (and therefore, money) if they were officially associated with USA Rugby. I've been involved with plenty of organizations that have a non-profit arm that acts as a support mechanism and funnels donations into a variety of programs. Something to think about. But check them out, or if you know more about them, let me know. I signed up for their newsletter, so maybe I'll find out more.
And here's something I found quite interesting. Did you know you can take a course in Rugby Management? Now you do. Maybe you can even get college credit for it. This company, Sports Management Worldwide offers and 8-week online course in managing professional or amateur rugby teams. Now, since I just found this I can't vouch for them, I just think it's pretty darn interesting. When you visit their site, read the article from the Portland Business Journal (on their home page) to get a better perspective on the company. When I'm done with my MBA (which I'm finishing up, ugh!) I might look into this just because it sounds cool. Whether you could ever get a job in managing a rugby team after taking this course is another matter, but since that's not what I'm interested in, it doesn't matter to me. If I do take the course I'll let you know what I think about it. If you've taken it, please share your thoughts.
That leads me into a whole other line of thought, but that's for another post.
I'm adding a link to the Quad Rugby site over in the links, because I think it's so cool. I saw the movie Murder Ball a couple of years ago and was very impressed. Not too much similarity to rugby as a game, but very much so in attitude.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
What I did find at the game was some good information. Here's what I found, and what I found out last time I found a game.
There's a tournament next week, November 30 - December 1, at Kapiolani Park. That's the big park at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, on Oahu, if you're not familiar with Hawaii. Should be fun. I'll be there. I don't know who all will be playing, but I now it's being hosted and organized by the Kalihi Raiders Rugby Club, and that the Islanders Rugby Club and the Barbarians (all from Oahu) will be participating. It's supposed to start at 11:00 am on Friday, the 30th.
Here's some information on clubs and their practices:
Hawaii Harlequins, practice Tues/Thur at 7:00 pm at Kapoalono Park in Kaimuki (near KCC, sort of). Their website is not too up to date, but there's some contact info.
Barbarians, practice Mon-Fri (so they say) at 5:30 pm at Paki Park, across from the Honolulu Zoo. No website and I don't have any contact info yet.
Kalihi Raiders Rugby Club, practice Mon-Thur at 6:30 pm at Kalakaua Field behind Farrington High School. No website and I don't have contact info yet.
Islanders Rugby Club, practice Tue/Thur at 5:30 pm at Kam Field (Kamehameha Field for those of you who don't like to see Kamehameha abbreviated like that), off of Likelike Highway mauka of H-1. I have a phone number for Lofi if you want to contact him.
I also spoke with someone who's involved with the Hawaii Youth Rugby League. They sound like they've got a good organization. Sounds like they just added a third team (U19, or Under 19 year olds) on the Big Island, which is really cool. There's supposed to be teams on Oahu and Maui, and then the three on the Big Island. I'll have to find out more about them and find out when and where they play. They have a website.
I also understand there's a team, the Hurricanes, on the North Shore (Oahu), so I'll have to find out about them too. They have a website.
I'll put links to the teams and organizations who have websites over on my links list, and when I find out more I'll post it here.
And don't forget to Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
But, since it's past my bedtime and I'm in the middle of upteen projects, you'll have to wait for morning for my second half recap, score, and all the info I got. Sorry, but I'm old. Need my beauty sleep. Have to get up and run in the morning. Since I'll probably be up before you, you should see something when you get up and log on.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Now look at your business. How do you go about promoting people into management positions? It’s usually somebody who’s very good at what they do. Meaning they have very good technical skills in their field. They don’t have management experience, they have specialized technical experience. Is that the best criteria? Probably not. There are very different skill sets required for management. People should be selected for promotion to management based on those skills. You have to look out for those skills within your workforce. Keep your eyes and ears open. Then start developing those skills and send people out for management skills training. You shouldn’t just throw people into the role without training and expect them to sink or swim. It’s just not good business, not a good investment in time and resources.
And remember, Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The same is true in business. To know you have support behind you to help you when you need it is a wonderful thing. Too often, though, in a business setting we don’t look for support when we should, and we don’t offer support when we should. Wouldn’t it be nice in you next staff meeting to hear a colleague shout “with you!” when you really need it? Try it. The next time one of your co-workers needs help, give them a hearty “with you!”, and let them know they have your support.
On the rugby pitch, in the warehouse, or in the boardroom, you’re a team. Support your team, and let them support you. There’s no glory in going it alone if you don’t score.
And remember, Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Running around opponents and breaking tackles is great, I wish I was better at it (meaning I’m not sure I’ve ever run around anyone), but you can’t just take off on you own without signaling your intentions to your teammates. If you go right and your support goes left, you’re in trouble. A well practiced team will have a much greater connection between and will have a pretty good read on each other, but you still must communicate.
The same thing applies to business. You can’t have one individual, a department, or division going off on their own without signaling their direction. To be successful, an organization must act as a cohesive unit, with everyone heading in the same direction towards the same goals. To get this to happen, you need a well developed Strategic Plan, a corresponding Action Plan, and an integrated and dynamic Performance Measurement System that ties everyone in to the Strategic Plan.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
The U.S. could become one of the great rugby nations if we really wanted it. Not just those of us who are already rugby fans wanting it, but the country as a whole wanting it. We’ve got some of the best athletes in the world, we’ve got an active sports-loving population, we’ve got one of the world’s strongest economies (present conditions not withstanding), and rugby is the ultimate spectator sport. Rugby is full of action, it’s exciting, it’s energizing. And somebody could make money from it.
As they say - It Takes Money to Make Money. And USA Rugby needs money. Blondie posted on November 2nd an excerpt from an article in eRugbyNews about the financial concerns surrounding the upcoming Women’s National Team tour of the United Kingdom. The tour is expensive (relatively), costing about $80,000. USA Rugby not being flush with cash, is unable to pay the entire cost of the tour. That means that the women selected for the tour will be required to pay approximately $1,500 from their own pockets if they want to represent the U.S. as a member of the National Team. That’s just not right.
Rugby is not a professional sport in the U.S., yet, so players play for the love of the game. Players generally have to pay for their own travel to games and tournaments, unless their club has a strong support and fund raising system. And that’s OK, we’re used to it. But when it comes to the National Team of one of the richest countries in the world, the players shouldn’t have to foot the bill. It’s just plain embarrassing.
You can support USA rugby by making a tax deductible contribution. You can donate to the general fund, or any of a number of specific programs, including the Women’s Team. But we need more. Yes, USA Rugby needs donations and corporate sponsors, but it also needs a wider base of support. It takes money to make money, so let’s build up the coffers of USA Rugby so that they can use some of it to generate even more revenue. We need marketing to bring the general public on board. We need a broad fan base to attract more sponsors. We need a strong and viable nationwide organization to attract entrepreneurs who will take rugby in the U.S. to the next level.
So I propose an Adopt-A-Rugger campaign. I’ve created a Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger logos and merchandise. All proceeds from the sales of the merchandise will be donated to USA Rugby. Find the merchandise at the Adopt-A-Rugger and Hug-A-Rugger Stores. Adopt-A-Rugger today!
“To Win the game is Great.
To Play the game is Greater.
To Love the game is Greatest.”
Thursday, November 15, 2007
To ask a question like that tells me you don’t really understand Lean and what Lean is. Lean, for those not familiar with it, is a management system that evolved from the Just-in-Time (JIT) system. JIT was an evolution of the Toyota Production System, which was an evolution, of sorts, of Henry Ford’s automobile production system. But that doesn’t really tell you much. What is Lean?
Lean is a philosophy. It is a business philosophy to operate your business or organization in the most efficient and effective way as possible. The term you’ll hear the most is Eliminate Waste. Waste takes many forms. Wasted time, wasted effort, and wasted resources are the biggies. Eliminating waste, improving processes, and becoming more successful and profitable are the goals. There are many tools, or techniques, associated with Lean. Things like 5S (Five S), which means to clean up and organize your work areas, Cellular Manufacturing, where you produce an item in a small, compact work cell, rather than moving things around to different departments, are used to make improvements.
Not every tool or technique will work, or work as well, in every situation or for every organization, but the basic philosophy is sound. Understand the philosophy, understand the tools, modify them for your organization, and reap the rewards. An instructor I had many years ago said “adopt and adapt”. Adopt the principles, and adapt them to fit your needs.
I do a lot of networking, usually lunches with various organizations. But Beer and Business sounds like a winner. More relaxed, after work, might bring out a different crowd. Do try this at home (or in your town).
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Back to Safeway this morning… Rule #1: Never go to Safeway if you’re in a hurry. Especially in the morning. They’ve got this one person working at the checkout in the morning. He’s usually the only checker. They operate under the if-a-line-forms-call-for-help method, which occasionally works if the checkers calls for help at the first sign of a long line. They’re not the only ones who do this, but it rarely works as the checker never calls until the line is 20 people long and everyone is getting all huffy. And don’t even talk about banks; they won’t add a teller no matter how many people are in line, out the door, standing in the rain. So this particular checker is close to the worst checker ever. Slow, nervous, never calls for help until it’s way too late or until another worker discovers a line and tells them to call (usually with an added lecture about calling for help when the line backs up). I guess once you get a job as a checker at Safeway you’re in for life, no matter how bad you might be. Unhappy customers? Who cares about the customers?
Rule #2: Don’t expect to get the coffee you want. They have a little self-serve coffee bar. The menu shows about six different varieties of coffee. You usually have one choice, maybe two. It’s never the choice you want.
Customer service, inventory management, they’re part of Operations. Training employees on proper procedures, and making sure that the process and procedures work to achieve organizational goals, are a big part of Operations. Managing inventory and providing excellent service are part of Operations. But who’s actually in charge of ensuring your operations are effective? Somebody has to take ownership. Somebody has to take responsibility. If you know a procedure is broken, fix it or make sure it gets fixed. If you know someone isn’t fulfilling their job responsibilities, help them improve or make sure someone with responsibility and authority helps them. If you don’t have the inventory to satisfy your customers, improve the inventory system.
Why should customers be happy? Because without happy customers you won’t have a successful business.
Monday, November 12, 2007
I was lucky. When I was in the army the U.S. was not involved in any wars. So after training (Airborne - Hoo Ahh!) I spent most of my time in the motor pool at Ft. Bragg. Because of that I don't always consider myself a "real" veteran. I'm not in the same class as the guys and gals who have gone to combat, or into dangerous conflict areas. And I'm not in the same class as everyone who has served long enough to retire. Still, I am a veteran. It was a good experience, though military life really wasn't for me. An experience I think everyone should go through, for the learning, discipline, and opportunity it presents.
So go hug a vet.
But what is Starbucks, really. In my opinion (to save me from any legal issues, this is my OPINION), Starbucks can’t make a decent cup of coffee to save their lives. And don’t get me started on their, so called, espresso, my drink of choice. But given that, they sure are successful. In some places you can’t spit without hitting a Starbucks. The cartoons kidding about opening a Starbucks in a Starbucks is not far off the mark it seems. So they’re successful, but at what.
To me, Starbucks is a marketing company. They’ve introduced coffee (one choice, extra dark and bitter) to the masses. They’ve raised coffee from a commodity to a premium product. They’ve pioneered the concept of cannibalizing sales of an existing store to raise total sales. You’ve seen it, they’ll put a store right across the street from an existing store, which takes sales from the existing store, but increases overall sales by attracting customers who wouldn’t go to that existing store for one reason or another (traffic patterns, parking, laziness, etc.). Genius.
But great marketing doesn’t make a great company. They’re processes are broken, or were never designed well in the first place. As I said, I’m an espresso man (and for the best espresso I’ve had, the gold standard, head over to The Steps of Rome caffé in San Francisco). Now espresso should never touch paper. It’s a ceramic cup, demitasse, or nothing (well, unless you’re in an airport where you take what you can get). So I order a “double espresso for here”. That concept is beyond many of the new employees, the “for here” thing. I guess they often skip over that part in Starbucks school (less than stellar training process). Then the fun begins.
They’re set up to move people through as quick as possible. Depending on the time of day and how busy it is, the number of employees waiting on customers varies. But usually, one person takes the order and takes your money. They grab a cup and write the codes on it for whatever you’re ordering. These are paper and plastic cups. To go. Not for here. So that’s what they’re set up for. To get an espresso for here they have to write the code on a small sticky, about the size of a band-aid (can I say that, or do I have to say Band-Aid brand adhesive bandage?). So the person making the drinks is used to grabbing the coded cups, not the coded sticky. So the sticky frequently goes unnoticed or lost in the shuffle. This is not good from the customer’s perspective (me). I end up waiting. I usually stand right up at the counter so they see me and wonder why I’ve been standing there so long. Sometimes I ask if they’re making my espresso. Sometimes the person who took my order notices me standing there with my thumb up my butt, waiting. Standing there like a dissatisfied customer. But, hey, I’m just a guy with a $2 espresso, not a $5 mocha lotta quadruple pump soy half foam chunk ‘o licious fru fru whatever. Then today, just to throw me over the edge, they give me a single espresso instead of the double I ordered and paid for. They even handed me the single espresso while saying “here’s your double espresso”. Poor service makes me cranky. Broken processes make me cranky. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Of course, I say this as I sit in Starbucks yet again. I wrote my first book here and I’m writing my next book here, so obviously it has some appeal. The greatest appeal is its proximity to my house. The fact that they have numerous outlets to plug into is another appeal, as is the general coffee shop culture, and the constant buzz of activity that helps me work. I find I concentrate better when there’s activity and some noise around, it helps me focus. I can’t be the only one who works better this way, because there are a lot of people who come here to work. I’ve seen the same people here for years. The students come and go, but some of them camp out here for a couple of years at a time.
So I’m not bashing Starbucks, I just think they have some improvement to do. Better to do it now, when you’re at the top of the heap, then when the competition gets tougher and you have to fight for customers. Fix your process, make better espresso, and offer different roasts of coffee.
And just what makes a great organization? Delighted customers. Customers who are happy, satisfied, get exactly what they want, and sometimes things they didn’t even know they wanted. Effective processes. Processes that work towards achieving the organization’s strategic objectives. Processes that have defined goals, are efficient in achieving those goals, do not waste time, effort, or money in achieving those goals. Processes that are clear and understandable, and are measurable. Organizations that stand out above the crowd with their internal practices, how they treat their employees and how they go about achieving their goals. And organizations that give back to the community, locally, and globally if they are able. Organizations that treat their customers and their non-customers alike with respect and dignity.
I’m done now.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I'll keep looking around for what's going on with rugby here in Hawaii, and I'll let you know what I find.
But, when I started leafing through the magazine, I found a couple of very good articles. The cover story (October 2007 issue) is about designing food processing plants to mitigate the problems of food contamination, which is a huge issue these days. There's another short article about Choosing a Conveyor System for Your Small- to Mid-Sized DC (that's Distribution Center for those of you not in-the-know). And a very good article on implementing ERP systems (that's Enterprise Resources Plannning, or an organization wide computer information system). I have a chapter on ERP system implementation in my book, so it's always nice to see someone talking intelligently about it.
Most of these free magazines are focused on one industry, and are usually pretty technical and full of ads, but I'm going to have to take more time to look at them, as they are very beneficial. What I'll do with my newfound knowledge of Food-Grade Lubricants, I don't know, but you never know when that will come up in conversation. (That's lubricants for equipment in food processing plants for those of you with dirty minds.)
So what magazines are on my pile?
APICS Magazine (comes with APICS membership)
Quality Progress (comes with ASQ membership)
Quality Digest (comes with ASQ Quality Management Division membership)
Hawaii Business (comes with HVCA membership)
Food Manufacturing (mentioned above)
Manufacturing Business Technology
Materials Handling Management
I'm sure I'm missing one or two that have already found their way to the trash, but I think it's time to take control here.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Kona Brewing, along with many small craft breweries, outsource a portion of their brewing. This is no different than any company that outsources production, and shouldn't come as a surprise. Outsourcing is a valid, and widely used, business operations strategy. It might come as a surprise to some beer drinkers, but it's a common practice. An article in the latest issue of Hawaii Business magazine notes that Kona Brewing has contracted with Widmer Brothers in Oregon and Red Hook in New Hampshire to brew and bottle its beer. Even the bottled beer in Kona's home state of Hawaii is brewed and bottled on the mainland.
Kona Brewing has developed strong partnerships with their contract brewers, something that many companies can learn when working with their contract manufacturers. Kona Brewing controls the raw materials and is highly involved in the manufacturing process, not just inspecting the finished product (see my post last post on China recalls).
Good beer and a good lesson in excellence in operations. What more could you ask for? This is making me thirsty....
Thursday, November 8, 2007
What's needed is a comprehensive management plan that includes detailed specifications for all products. That may include chemicals and additives that are allowed and those that are not. The importers, also known as customers to the manufacturers, need to work more closely with their suppliers. Create partnerships, not necessarily financial partnerships, but working relations partnerships. If necessary, work with the suppliers to develop modern and sophisticated management systems, that include dynamic and reliable quality management systems. The big boys, like WalMart, Target, and others have a lot of influence. Don't try to muscle or threaten your suppliers, but work with them for mutual benefit. Many Chinese manufacturers are very sophisticated and have management employees with Western management education and training. Use that talent, support it, and enhance it. Send some people over to your suppliers to develop, in concert, the types of systems that are needed to prevent problems from entering the supply chain, not to try to inspect them out at the end of the chain.
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
However, I clicked on something that just looked curious, and who knew, but it's really good. Check out Happy Slip. This lady is very talented (she does all her own writing, videoing [is that a word?], editing, and mixing) and just quirky enough to be entertaining.
I switched careers into Business Operations, first with inventory management, then production planning, purchasing, warehousing, quality, and other areas. When I first got involved with operations, a co-worker introduced me to APICS - The Association for Operations Management. I joined to learn about my new profession. When I started receiving the magazine that came with my membership I was really hooked. There was tons of wonderful and useful information in there. I ordered the annual conference proceedings, which came in printed form at the time, to learn even more. But I couldn't understand everything, so I started studying for the CPIM - Certified in Production and Inventory Management certification. That really opened my eyes to operations. That led me to more. I started getting involved with the local chapter, then was able to travel to the quarterly Region Meetings where I met presidents and officers from the other chapters in our Region.
I've continued to stay involved with APICS, even serving on several Association level committees. I've joined other organizations, ASQ - American Society of Quality, which I'm still a member of, and ISM - Institute of Supply Management, and I've earned several other professional certifications (CIRM - Certified in Integrated Resources Management, CQMgr - Certified Quality Manager, and CSSBB - Certified Six Sigma Black Belt). I continue to learn by attending presentations and conferences held by these organizations, and by giving presentations to local chapters of these organizations and their national and international conferences.
But, by far, the biggest benefit I've received, and continue to receive, is the people I've met and the friends I've made. I encourage everyone to join, and become active, in professional organizations. Whatever field you're in, or are interested in, there is an organization for you. Get involved, learn, meet new friends, and reap the benefits.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
If I wanted to get everything I was shopping for I'd have to find out when they stock each particular item and get there when they're stocking the shelves. Otherwise the odds are against me. If you sell that much yoghurt or peanut butter in a day, maybe you could restock more than once a day. I can hear the managers and executives now telling me why this isn't possible, but wait, I'm the customer and I have other options. One day I will be pushed over the edge and just stop shopping in your store, and I'll tell everyone I know not to shop there. Maybe one customer doesn't mean much to you, but with the competition in the supermarket business being what it is, I don't think you can afford to lose even one customer.
I might just consider myself ignorant and get over it, but in one of the most influential books on the Lean management system (Lean Thinking, by James Womack & Daniel Jones) the authors use an example of Tesco, a supermarket chain in the U.K. for how Lean works to improve operations. If they can do it, why can't Safeway? I'm sure there are lot's of things that can be done, even given whatever constraints they have, to improve their operations and keep the shelves stocked on a more consistent basis.
(3 tries, 2 conversions)
(5 tries, 3 conversions, 1 penalty)
You get a bit spoiled watching the World Cup, that level of play is quite impressive to watch, but there's really nothing better than to stand on the sidelines at a local club or college game. Sure, they're not professional, world class standards, but it's much more real. You're right there. You keep thinking to yourself "I could be out there, I would have made that tackle, I would have broken through that gap." And, if you really want to, you could be out there next week. Up close and personal adds a dimension to the game that you'll never get in a stadium or through TV. When I go to a dance concert I like to sit right up front. It makes it more real when you can see them sweat, see the little imperfections that you'd never see from the balcony.
That's another way to market rugby at the local level. Let the uninitiated in at the ground level. Let them experience the sights and sounds and smells that they'll never get at any other sport. The more personal the connection, the more fans you'll attract, and the bigger foundation you'll build.
So the game was a little sloppy, but fun to watch. The Barbarians had an impressive back line. They had several players with wheels, and moves to match. And they couldn't just run in the open, they were just as impressive, if not more so, in the rough. They didn't fall over at the first hit, not at all. The thing that impressed me most was from two players.
It was inspiring to watch. I wish I could play like that. Most of the players did what a lot of players at this level do. See a tackle coming and throw the ball away. I don't mean pass when you should pass, but just plain throw the ball away. Lot's of that out there today. There was a lot of good play too, looking for support, take the hit then ruck or maul, the regular stuff. But these two guys had this focus that you could not only see, but you could feel it from across the field.
The one guy looked so relaxed when he ran, like he was just walking through a crowd at the mall, but he was fixed on the try line, and on the opposition in front of him. He looked like he was just calmly reading a map, then picking his space (no matter how zig zaggy it might be), finding a target, and flipping a switch that sent him there. Several times he took a hit that would have rattled my thought process, but that focus didn't waver a bit. He just kept on. Not to say that he didn't pass when he should or didn't know where his support was, but he had that target in sight and wasn't going to let anything prevent him from getting it. The other guy had that same focus, just a little bit different style. He was pretty small, but his presence was huge when he had the ball, or an opponent to tackle. That focus. I guess I wasn't paying as much attention as I should, but I think he was the winger and the other guy was outside center. Because this guy was usually near the touch line, but he knew where he was and it was all the time. You could see when he got the ball outside that he was headed for that gap right down the sideline, it was like a laser focused right down that slot all the way to the try line. Amazing. He too had that focus where a tackle seemed more an annoyance than a hit.
If we all had that in everything we do, just imagine what you could accomplish.
Friday, November 2, 2007
But this brings up the subject of the business of rugby in the U.S. The question, really, is why can't we do better? We have thousands of rugby clubs, at all levels from youth to old boys, tens of thousands (at least) of rugby players and fans, and some of the best athletes in the world. Rugby is an inherently exciting game. And is a true sport, just watch a game and the fans. So why can't the U.S. make rugby more successful and field a team that can compete at the top level of the sport?
There are a lot of good people at USA Rugby and the IRB (International Rugby Board), but we're not where we could be. Did you know that the U.S. is the current Olympic Rugby Champions? Of course the last time rugby was played in the Olypmics was 1924, but what happened? Maybe we're going about it the wrong way, I don't really know. I'm just thinking out loud here. But one of the first things that needs to happen is education. We'd have far more fans if more people actually knew what was going on out there on the pitch. Hey, that's one thing, the terminology. Joe Public would call it a field while many of the rugby crowd would call it a pitch. We need to educate the general public about the terminology and the basics of the game. On the surface, and from the stands, rugby is a pretty simple game. A good marketing effort would first focus on just getting people to understand the basics.
Then there's the money aspect. To make money you need fans, sponsors, people who aren't necissarily fans but who are interested, and business people who know how to make money. To generate more interest local games need to be reported on in the local press, regional games and tournaments need to be reported on in local, regional, and national press, and national and international games need to be reported on in the press and televised. The press are generally for-profit companies that need to make money. They make money from advertisors who pay based on circulation and readership, or viewership. If a buzz is generated by quality reporting, people will buy the paper or watch the news that has that report. That will attract advertisors, and the money starts to flow. The reporting has to include an element of education, to attract those readers and viewers who don't have a depth of knowledge of the game. Talk to your local news organizations and volunteer to help report on rugby in your area or be the expert about the game for their reporters. Create a buzz.
To make money off of rugby, with the idea that we can make it a professional sport here in the U.S., use the same basic business concpets you'd use for any other business. What are the sources of revenue associated with rugby? Ticket sales, obviously, but also concessions. Beer, of course, but food, water, and soft drinks. What else? Set up booths for all sorts of things that rugby players and fans would like. Selling rugby gear is an easy one, but what about face painting for the keiki (that's kids in Hawaii), cell phone vendors, coffee, outdoor clothing? I bet there are tons of things you could think of that aren't necessarily directly related to rugby but would compliment it nicely to increase revenue and make rugby matches (games, for the uninitiated) a profitable venture. Since this is, or would be, something new here, let's think differently than they do in the countries where rugby has a long history.
There's alot of talk about the auto industry in the U.S., and has been for several years now. The U.S. auto manufacturer's are in decline while the Japanese automakers are rising. It's a complex situation and everyone has their opinion, so let's look at it. The recent contract talks at all three U.S. automakers brings it into the limelight again. The Chrysler situation adds some new things to the mix. Since they were recently bought by a private equity firm the dynamics change. Chances are the new owners aren't looking to run the business for the long term. They want to come in, turn the company around, then get out and make a profit doing it. Nothing wrong with that. That's what business is all about. The problem, if there is one, is how they go about making the turnaround. Laying off thousands of workers is never good. The employees suffer, sometimes severely, and the local economy suffers, sometimes severely.
But we have to ask why they're laying off these workers, and if there's another solution. If the company has more capacity than they need for the current market, it doesn't make business sense to keep that excess capacity. But can that excess capacity, labor, equipment, facilities, space, be used in another way or for another purpose that generates income? The easy solution is to shut down plants, eliminate shifts, and layoff people. It's a harder answer to think up ways to use those resources, very valuable resources, for other opportunities, but that is managment's job. What else could they use those facilities and people for that will generate income, and profits? And what would it take to make those changes?
Thursday, November 1, 2007
As for business, my next MBA class starts today. Organizational Behavior. Should have lots of stuff to talk about once this gets going. I'm going to Baker College, using the online option. It's a great program and very challenging. Much more difficult, and rewarding, than the traditional program I started years ago.
We'll be discussing topics that are all over the map, and whatever happens to be on my mind. That often means ranting about customer service, but I keep hoping that if I rant about it enough people will take notice and improve their service. Service, or customer service, is fundamental to Operations. Operations are all those activities that are directly related to producing and delivering your products and services to your customers. That includes what is often referred to as customer service, and that is an area, a broad area, where far too many organizations are lacking.