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Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Twenty Eight U17 Maui rugby players will gather tomorrow in Lahaina (Maui) to play the California U17 Grizzlies. This is the first stop on the Grizzlies tour of Hawaii.
After Maui, the touring party will come to Oahu for a BBQ on Friday night followed by a game on Saturday (3:00 pm at Kapiolani Park).
Good luck to everyone, and Go Hawaii Youth!
Kaizen is the term for Continuous Improvement. This is a fundamental principle of the Lean Management system, and for good reason. Even in the best of times business is not easy. Conditions change constantly. Procuring materials and supplies, finding the right people to keep you moving forward, changing customer tastes, changing market and economic conditions are all part of the day-to-day. The ever more global marketplace of competition makes any business a wild ride. So even in the best of times it is important to continuously strive to improve your organization so that you can either remain in front of the pack or gain ground to move to the front.
Continuous improvement means looking at everything you do and making it better. The hard part for many organizations, though, is to see what you’re looking at. On the surface, many things you do, your processes, might look like they’re just fine and don’t need any improvement. Other processes might not even need a close view to know they need improvement. But how many times have you seen something that needs to be improved, but it just never gets done? Kaizen means seeing what you’re looking at, looking below the surface of some processes, and getting off your bum and fixing the things that you’ve been putting off.
Kaizen isn’t so much a technique, but a mindset. It’s a way of thinking where you never accept that the way you do things is good enough, they can always be done better. Your processes can always be more effective and more efficient. Efficient means using fewer resources to get the same result or using the same amount of resources to get more done. Resources include time, people, materials, equipment, space, whatever it is you use to get the job done. Effective means that you accomplish your goals. And each process has a goal.
Your organization as a whole has goals, or you should have clearly defined goals. Every process, a process simply being a series of tasks to do a job, should also have a clearly defined goal. Have you ever had a job where you performed some task and always wondered why you did it? You knew it wasn’t necessary or could have been done much better, but you had to do it anyway? That’s because no one ever defined, or questioned, the goal of that process and how it supported the larger process or the goals of the organization. I’ve experienced this first hand a number of times. It’s common with reports. At some time, for some reason, someone wanted a report, and it might even have been useful at the time. But over time the report had become unnecessary, but nobody wanted to stop generating it. On more than one occasion I’ve stopped generating and distributing reports that were unnecessary – and no one even noticed! That process was not only in need of improvement, it was in need of elimination. If you look, I’ll bet you can find many processes that fit this same criteria. And it’s not always something as innocuous as a report. Sometimes there are steps in a manufacturing process that can and should be eliminated.
More often, though, a step or series of steps must be performed, but they can be done much differently than they are now. They can be done in a different way that takes less time, fewer people, less materials or space, and less money. But you have to look, and you have to see. Look at everything you do. Do three people really need to approve that? Do you really have to write that down AND enter it into the computer? Do you really have to enter that manually, can’t it be done automatically? Do you really need to send a (signed) purchase order to your vendor, can’t you just send them an electronic signal (after you’ve set up an agreement on terms such as quantity for re-orders, price, etc.)?
The point is, examine everything you do, be sure you know why you’re doing it, and find a way to do it better. Every improvement doesn’t have to be a big breakthrough. Small, incremental improvements add up quickly. Better small improvement than none at all.
I’ll continue this thread in future posts.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The headline reads "Hard times offer chance to improve through IT". The article is well written and I agree with most of it, but I have to disagree on a couple of key points. This article is in the Sunday (December 6, 2009) edition of the Honolulu Star Bulletin, written my John Agsalud.
The article starts off with a very important, and very true, point, "...it's that this is a good time for organizations to innovate and improve their business processes,..." John is right, this is the best time for organizations to make improvements. It's not only the best time, it is absolutely vital for many organizations if they are going to continue to survive. In good times, waste inevitably creeps into every organization. You're doing well, things are moving fast, you don't have time to worry about the little things. But all those little things add up over time, and even in the best of times it is important for organizations to continuously improve their Operations and drive the waste out of the system. In these tough economic times you can't afford to wait to make the improvements, you have to do it now.
The end of the above quoted sentence is where I have my disagreement; "...improve their business processes, usually through the use of technology."
The proper use of technology is very important to the Operations of an organization, and Mr. Agsalud points out many of the benefits in his article. My disagreement is that you do not always need technology, and oftentimes shouldn't use it, to make improvements to your Operations and your business processes.
There are many improvements that can be made without investing in technology. Many times simply examining the flow or steps of a process can reveal surprising insights that lead to simple changes that result in great improvements. Too many organizations (and I've seen some of them personally) immediately jump to a technology "fix" to their problems without ever even analyzing the causes of the problems in the first place. Find out what is causing you to be less than excellent, or what is causing you to perform lower than you want or expect, then craft a solution. You can decide at this point whether the solution includes the use of technology or not.
Technology has a high cost, in time, money, and other resources. You have to make sure you approach a technology implementation as an investment, and you have to be very clear on what the return on that investment will be. You also have to be very clear on what the actual and total investment is before you begin.
Use technology when appropriate. Use it to improve your organization. Just don't use it as a crutch and expect technology to help you when it's not the lack of technology that is causing your problems now.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
OK, they were very good at sending me my new, improved, upgraded, still looks the same, modem. But I think they're having some trouble with their new system.
I've used Clearwire for about a year and have had zero problems. No outages, no downtime, no problems. But now with the new system my coverage seems to be a bit spotty. Some downtime and a signal that's less strong. I'm hoping it's just a brief breaking in period. We'll see.
But the point is there shouldn't be any disruptions. They should have tested, and tested, and tested some more before rolling out a new, "improved" system. It should be seamless for the customer.
And supposedly my download speed should be double from the previous system, but darned if I can tell. Everything seems to work the same as it did before. I'm not much of an internet user, so maybe what I do doesn't show any difference. I don't know. I guess I should try to watch a streaming movie or something.
So, Clearwire, or Clear, are you going to continue to make me happy?
The Pacific Coast Grizzly U17 All Star team will be touring Hawaii in a week or two (unsure of the start of the tour). They will start off on Maui, travel to Oahu, then finish up in Kona on the Big Island (officially Kailua-Kona on the Island of Hawaii if you're not familiar with the islands).
On Oahu, the Grizzly will play an Oahu All Star team on Saturday, December 19th, at Kapiolani Park (time?). On Friday the 18th at 4:30 pm there will be a barbecue at the park for the teams, and another barbecue following the Saturday match. We love to eat here in Hawaii. A 2-Barbecue Extravaganza according to one of the emails.
BBQ expertise (that leave me out), food, and cash donations are most welcome. Contact Hawaii Youth Rugby or David Ma'afu Wendt to donate or for more information. I know they're looking for help getting the team from the airport to the park & their hotel when they arrive in Honolulu (sometime on the 18th).
The tourists leave for the Big Island on December 21st, to play their match against the Big Island Select U17 on December 23rd.
That sounds like a great Christmas Present to the all the players and fans. Come out to your respective venue and support Hawaii Youth Rugby and the touring side players and coaches.
Also, Hawaii Youth Rugby needs your donations to help fund all the great programs they're running. Information regarding donations (tax deductible) are on the website (I'll be writing my check and sending it in, as I'm already past due in doing that).
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Measuring performance without an objective standard or criteria to measure against is meaningless. That's what many organizations do, however. They evaluate performance in isolation or against some undefined perception. Performance of suppliers, of employees, and of yourself has to be measured against pre-determined standards or criteria if they are to mean anything. The thing is, people like to be measured. They like to be measured if they can meet the standards or criteria. That's important.
You can't measure an individual's performance if they are not give the tools, training, and resources that are needed to complete the task. The same goes for suppliers. You must act as a responsible customer, and you must tell them ahead of time what they will be measured on and how you will perform the measurements.
Be one of the best. Plan, and measure your performance.
I must preface this by saying that although I continue to rant about Safeway, My Safeway, I continue to shop there. Why is that? Habit. Difficult to change even with my complaints (businesses like that). I know where the Safeway's are and how to get to them (with Honolulu traffic, that's important).
So, my latest Safeway adventure...
I was near the store just before lunchtime and hadn't brought my lunch that day. So I popped into the deli to grab a quick sandwich to take back to the office. Or I should say I planned to stop in for a quick sandwich. Quick and Safeway never go together. I always tell myself "never go to Safeway if you're in a hurry." The deli was empty, so no waiting. I could get my sandwich and be out of there quick as a wisp (is that a real saying?). As I stood there waiting, and waiting, I decided on the meatball sub, as all you have to do is put meatballs and cheese on the bread, quick as can be.
Well, I continued waiting while one deli worker talked on the phone. And talked. And talked. Then walked out from behind the deli counter and went and talked to the second deli worker who was stocking one of the food cases. He did say "I'll be right with you" as he walked by. After a short discussion worker number 1 went back to the phone. Another "I'll be right with you", just for effect I assume. The phone conversation then proceeded to continue.
By this time I was past ready to leave, but I thought I can't lose this place in line (even though there wasn't, technically, a line, there being just me). Plus I figured that since I got two "I'll be right with you" 's it couldn't be much longer. I was wrong.
Finally, after a good ten minutes (I'm very patient, plus stubborn and by this time curious) I was waited on. And within milli-seconds of worker number 1 taking my order, worker number 2 asked me if I'd been helped. Why, yes I have, thank you for asking after watching me stand there for 10 minutes, thank you very much.
The meatball sandwich making was mostly uneventful, except I only got cheese on half the meatballs. It started out on all of them, but during the transfer of the meatballs and cheese from the microwave onto the bread, the cheese got pushed onto only half the meatballs. Well, at least it was all there somewhere.
So, I eventually got my sandwich and headed back to the office.
I should have gotten salami...
And the lesson is... A customer standing in front of you is your top priority. And, customer service can be improved. Or is one more customer just not that important in this economy?
Friday, November 13, 2009
Find news, information, documents pertaining to rules and codes of conduct, contacts, and more. There is a Sponsor's page showing the businesses, organizations, and individuals who have made the commitment to sponsor Hawaii Youth Rugby. And one thing I like very much is that meeting minutes that are posted. I like transparency, and this is a great way to find out what's going on with the running of the organization. Reading the minutes (yes, I do that) gives me great confidence in the organization and its leaders.
Great job everyone!
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
I can't remember how long these matches have been going on, but it has to be over 20 years now. Those of my era are getting fewer and fewer to be seen on the field these days. I haven't been able to make the trip for quite awhile, and I'm sure I would regret getting roughed up by those young bucks if I did show up and foolishy suit up. I'm told my friend Karl played this year, and survived. Maybe next year...
For a detailed match report, here's a write up by Dave Wheelock, NM Tech Rugby Director. This was emailed to me, but I suspect it's from the local newspaper, El Defensor Chieftain (though I don't see it on the website).
Students Top Grads in Annual Rugby Classic
Pygmies 55, Ancestors 32
SOCORRO, N.M. October 26, 2009 -- New Mexico Tech’s student team won a battle of contrasting rugby styles in Friday’s 49ers homecoming match, scoring a 55-32 victory over Tech’s alumni. The Pygmies conceded the edge in size and experience to their elders but made up the disparity with team speed and support play.
While eight of the undergrads’ nine five-point tries were scored by fleet backline players after long breaks involving several passes, all but one of the Ancestors’ five tries resulted from close range surges of power.
Members of the NMT Pygmy (student) and Ancestor (alumni) rugby teams gather Friday after the students' 55-32 victory. Photo by Dave Wheelock
The Pygmies will attempt to conclude their autumn record at 15 wins against 3 losses Saturday as they take on the New Mexico State University Chiles in Las Cruces. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
With a handful of the alumni players committed to Saturday afternoon matches with their current clubs, the late afternoon kickoff allowed the Ancestors scant time for reunion greetings before introductions were broadcast to an enthusiastic 49ers crowd. After four minutes of play the students took advantage of a turnover by their elders to ship the ball to veteran fullback flier Isaiah Sanchez, who crossed the line for the game’s first try. Jay Herrera booted the conversion and the Pygmies took a 7-0 lead.
A physically imposing set of Ancestor forwards featured former Pygmy greats Denny Newell, James Napier, Habib Guerrero, Brendan La Count, Matt Majors, Tory Tadano, and Dylan Merrigan. The Ancestor forwards drove the Pygmies backward in the opening scrums, forcing student scrumhalf Herrera to scramble with his passes to the backline.
However, the Pygmies thrived on what ball possession they could get from Ancestor kicks or lineouts thrown to Matt Kretz and Graham Payne, always striving to lateral the ball wide for their speedsters to advance. After 10 minutes Pygmy flyhalf Royce Beaudry took the last pass to score after a lightning attack by his mates covered the entire length of the field.
Ancestor scrumhalf Seth Daly got the veterans on the scoreboard at 12-3 after 20 minutes with a long penalty kick, but minutes later the Pygmies went up 19-3 when big inside center Nick Aldape spotted a gap and cruised a full 50 meters to score. Merrigan, a graduate student player at Colorado School of Mines, smashed his way to a short range try to pare the students’ lead to 19-8. Then, Beaudry and Sanchez each added tries in the waning minutes before halftime to apparently to suggest a blowout for the Pygmies at 31-8.
NMT graduate Dylan Merrigan looks for a gap between student players Conrad Peterson (number 17) and Jay Herrera (number 9). At left is former Pygmy Habib Guerrero and referee Dr. Clint Richardson of the NMT faculty. Photo by John Rundberg
The Ancestor’s five-minute halftime strategy session appeared to revive the Ancestors as they dominated ball possession and registered two tries early in the second half. Guerrero, now playing for the San Juan Silverbacks, couldn’t be stopped from short range. Then, Rob Harrison of the Santa Fe Rugby Club scored from a scrum close to the Pygmies’ tryline. Daly converted the second try.
With the Ancestors looming closer at 31-20 with a half hour remaining, the Pygmies responded, first by working the ball to wing Mason Timm, who found glory through a narrow gap in the defense. Outside center Dustin Webb kicked the conversion and less then two minutes later, Beaudry sped 50 meters to touch down between the posts.
The Ancestors answered with a try from Mike Anguti (converted by Daly) to make it 41-27 before the Pygmies’ man of the match Jay Herrera stepped in front of an Ancestor pass and motored 80 meters to claim an intercept try converted by Webb.
Minutes later, Beaudry added his fourth try of the day when he followed up a brilliant breakaway by Herrera. Webb was good with the conversion kick for a 55-27 student lead, but the Ancestors had the last word when outside center Pat Simons, recently returned to the Santa Fe Rugby Club after an extended playing stint in Australia, combined speed, strength, and footwork to score from 30 meters out. Matt Nelson added the conversion points to draw the 49ers curtain for 2009 at Pygmies 55, Ancestors 32.
-- NMT --
By Dave Wheelock/Tech Rugby Director
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
In Japan when you're over 40 you wear White shorts, over 50 is Navy, over 60 is Red, over 70 is Yellow, over 80 is Purple, and over 90 is Gold.
Jim expects to eventually wear Gold shorts, but his real goal is to become the oldest rugby player in Japan. Best of luck!
Think there's not many Gold short's wearing players? I saw one photo with several Gold shorts players, and numerous players in each of the other colors. It must be the water.
Maybe there's still hope for me...
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The Hawaii Harlequins hosted a rugby tournament yesterday and today. I haven't heard any news yet, so don't know scores, or even who played. If anybody's got any results, please send them to me so I can post them.
Next up is the International 15's Tournament, November 5-7, 2009. I've got to get down there for some of this! Here's a link for contact info.
I listen to HPR (usually KIPO) even during their fund drives. I'm that much of a Public Radio junkie (I'm also a "True Believer"). I'm always amazed that they raise the amount of money they need, and they almost always achieve their goal on-time.
That's your first lesson. They set a specific goal, a specific dollar amount that they need to raise, and a specific time frame to reach it. Lesson? Set specific, measurable, achievable goals.
But I was getting worried this drive because they had fallen significantly behind after several days. With the economy the way it is and all the cutbacks and layoffs, it wasn't really a surprise, but it was a concern. But they got back on-track and even managed to reach their goal right on time. Amazing! So how did they do it?
Here's the big lesson. The big, final goal is hard for most people to really get their head around. It's a big number and people don't see how their little, individual contribution puts a dent in it. So what HPR always does, and what they sat down and really pushed and focused on after they fell behind, is break that big, final goal down into smaller targets set for each program or hour of the day. That is, instead of having to think about how your $60 membership (or $120 True Believer or $365 Dollar-A-Day pledge) puts a dent in the $700,000-plus final goal, you can get a really clear picture of how you pledge makes a difference in a $1,200 target during your favorite show. Lesson? Break a big, final goal down into smaller, more easily digestable targets that people can understand and feel good about.
Oh, and donate to your favorite Public Radio station (even if you're not liberal-leaning, the music's great).
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Not just another Rugger Owned Business to add to our ever-expanding list (see the list on the left), but a Rugger Owned Rugby Business.
From the Lil' Ruggers website: "Rugby is the perfect sport for any age, gender, size, and speed; with 15 players on each team, there is a position for everyone. Children are notorious for exploring with their hands which makes rugby the ideal sport for kids as they are encouraged to hold the ball and run, run, run!
Through simple drills and flag scrimmages in the great outdoors (where kids belong!), the goal of LIL' RUGGERS is to foster listening skills, sharing, communication, and healthy behavior that will ultimately last a lifetime. In a safe, controlled, non-contact and undeniably fun way, of course!"
Getting kids outside, letting them run around and have fun, and learning "The Best Sport Ever". What else could you ask for? This is a great idea. If you live in New York City, definitely check them out. If you already have kids in the program, let me know what you think about it.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Here's another Guest Post by Jeff Thomas. It's titled Creative Ways To Get More Customers, which is information we can all use, but this is not just for business. Your Rugby Club could also use these techniques to get more exposure, players, fans, and supporters. Give them a try. Thanks Jeff!
Creative Ways To Get More Customers
In today’s economic climate, it can be tough to find new customers, and retain the ones you’ve already got. Everyone’s watching their pennies, which means that small business owners have to get creative when it comes to getting feet in the door.
Fortunately, there are several low-cost ways to get more customers. Let’s take a look:
Publish Articles In Local Magazines
Many publications, especially trade magazines or Chamber of Commerce newsletters, welcome submissions from local businesses. This is a great way to add to your credibility and get your name out there.
What can you write about? Well, anything that has to do with your business! Make sure you give readers information that can truly help them, however. No one wants to read about your next sale, or how great your customer service is.
Remember, give first. You’ll get the benefits later on.
Put On A Workshop
Putting on free workshops for your customers is a great way to get them in your store. After all, people love learning new things, and they love it even more when it’s free.
For instance, if you own a stationary shop you could teach customers how to design great wedding invitations. Or if you own a sports store, you could teach people how to care for their sports equipment during the wintertime.
Again, focus on giving your customers good, useful information. Don’t pitch your business or try to sell stuff during the workshop! This will be a major turnoff, and they won’t want to come back. Give first. You’ll get later.
Think About Your Location
If your business lease is about to expire, then you can get more customers by strategically locating your business.
For instance, if you own a bakery that also makes wedding cakes you would benefit by locating next to a flower shop or stationary store. Restaurants do great by shopping malls or sports venues, and consignment shops might do great close to a higher priced retail boutique.
By strategically locating your business close to another in roughly the same field you can take advantage of the extra foot traffic.
Create A Unique Contest
This strategy can be a huge hit with your local community, especially if you get the newspaper on board to advertise it.
Businesses have long used contests to drive business. After all, how many times has Purina run the “Cutest Dog” contest? Or Gerber the “Cutest Baby”contest?
Well, why not run your own contest, but with a twist? If you own a pet shop, why not hold an “Ugliest Dog” contest? Or a “World’s Ugliest Blouse” contest if you’re a consignment shop?
Have a sense of humor, and think up something really quirky. People will sit up and take notice, which means more PR for business.
Guest post by Jeff Thomas from Ideal Computer Systems. Ideal is the leading provider for dealer management software for the motorcycle, snowmobile and Powersports industries
Friday, October 9, 2009
John Scheef III is one of the senior partners in a Dallas, Texas based law firm called Scheef & Stone, LLP. They have 34 attorneys and are a general business law firm. John is also a retired, non-playing member of the Dallas Harlequins RFC and President of the Dallas Harlequins Foundation which is a charitable organization supporting the Dallas Harlequins.
Joe Ting's company is called RampageRugby. The concept is aimed at improving and helping everyone involved in the game, be it players, Coaches, Refs and promoting the game in the not so main stream rugby countries, i.e. Spain, Portugal etc.. His site includes an injury clinic, which is specific for rugby injuries.
Good luck guys!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Here at Let's Talk Business! we (meaning me, since we is me) don't try to sell you anything or endorse any products or services for personal or monetary gain. This article fits in well with the focus of this blog so I am happily posting it. Plus, Wendy over at Your Scrumhalf Connection has several guest bloggers and interns and if I can make any small progress in making my blog as good as hers, I'll give it a try. Thanks Jeff.
Here's Jeff's article:
The Benefits of Investing In Your Community
We’ve all seen them: the small print shop that is sponsoring this summer’s Little League team, the bakery that donated bread and muffins for the town’s Walk for Breast Cancer, or the record shop that puts on free concerts every weekend for local teens.
As a small business owner, you’re in a unique position to really give back to the community you live in. Sure it feels great to do something good for your town. But can it pay off?
The good news here is that yes, it can, in several different ways. If you go about it the right way.
One of the greatest benefits to being involved with your community is that people will start to recognize your business. And in their minds, your business name will be tied directly in with the good feeling of charity. The two concepts, your business and goodwill, are directly linked. When it comes to name recognition and customer loyalty, this is a very good thing.
Another benefit to investing in your community is the sense of satisfaction you get from doing it. You can’t measure the feeling of giving back in dollars and cents, but it’s amazing the boost it can give not only to you, but to your employees as well.
Many large companies, like Google and Tom’s of Maine, give their employees one paid day per month to volunteer however they like. This is a huge perk in those companies, and the employees say it’s a big morale booster.
If you want to make sure your customers know about your involvement then make sure you advertise it. If you send out a monthly newsletter, then showcase what you did and include plenty of pictures.
Another way you can highlight your efforts is to call your local paper. For example, many businesses will donate a portion of their sales for a month to a local charity, and newspapers love to run these features. This is free publicity for your business.
If you become involved in a larger event, then make sure your business name is displayed as prominently as possible. Invest in banners and t-shirts, and have plenty of brochures on hand to pass out to people.
Community involvement is a great way to give back, feel great about what you’re doing, and get some publicity for your business in the bargain. And don’t forget, most of the time you can write off your expenses as a tax deduction.
Guest post by Jeff Thomas of Ideal Computer Systems Inc. http://www.idealcomputersystems.com/
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
I have a column in this new Supply Chain magazine in Vietnam, Vietnam Supply Chain Insight. I just received the first two issues. Of course, I can't read my own articles, but that's my name there. I can't read the Russian edition of my book either. Is there a trend here?
I title the column The Supply Chain Begins With You, but I really have no idea if they use that or not.
I wish the magazine great success, and I hope I can contribute to that success. The magazine is very well done. It looks very good. I wish I could read it.
And doesn't that fellow on the cover of the first issue look suspiciously like me?
Starting December 17th we will have games in Maui against the U17 California All Star team, Honolulu on Saturday Dec.19th and the Big Island (TBA).
Saturday, February 13th ..... Papakura HS. from New Zealand vs Hawaii U17's
March 14th til the 20th .... St Marys and St Johns HS from Canada are here in Honolulu.
Tuesday, April 13th ..... Napier HS. from New Zealand vs Hawaii U17's
... a possible 3 mainland teams to play in the Hawaii Youth Rugby Invitational, March 24th to the 27th 2010.
Hawaii Youth Rugby season on Oahu starts January 9, 2010.
Keep up the good work everyone!
*pinched this photo off the web from some blog.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I've also updated my photo, in case you haven't noticed. This is my good side (according to me).
Monday, August 10, 2009
I was at my favorite Starbucks last night and I got the distinct feeling that I was in their way. I appreciate a clean store, that's part of good customer service. But I don't like to feel unwanted or in the way while the crew starts cleaning before the store closes so they can run out as soon as they push the customers out the door at precisely closing time.
It's not the economy, because they've been doing this for years, trying to save money by not paying anyone after store closing hours. It's just plain poor customer service. I'm sure I'm not the only one who notices. You're sitting and enjoying your coffee, and maybe some conversation, when the crew starts to close the store while you're still in it - and it's not closing time yet. Surely they could wait until they close to start the cleaning, or at least just do the little things that the customers don't notice. But to get out the broom, move the tables and chairs, and sweep within a millimeter of your feet while you're trying to relax is just too much.
What this means is that the best organizations have a well informed workforce who understand what the organization is doing, how well it is performing, and where they fit in.
Share. Share the good and the bad. Keep everyone informed. If you don't tell your people what's going on they'll make up their own answers, and those answers will be based on fear and misunderstanding, not facts.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Take a look.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving to make my usual turkey dinner, I thought I'd have Thanksgiving in July. I quickly learned that that is not so easy to do. For one, Safeway does not have any turkeys in July, nor do Costco or Don Quixote (a.k.a. Diae or Holiday Mart, depending on how long you've lived here). Second, it's now August, but that's another story. I did find turkeys at Foodland, but the off season price was quite shocking. I'm used to the "subsidized" holiday price, or the loss-leader price that stores use to bring in the holiday food shoppers, and wasn't prepared to pay $30 for a turkey. So... on to the chickens. Much better. I ended up buying a non-name-brand chicken for half the price of the name-brand. A large roaster, ready for stuffing.
I made my stuffing and pulled the bird out of the refridgerator. It was when I pulled the giblets out of the bird that I realized something was wrong. Bad chicken, bad chicken. Rule #1 - don't eat a foul smelling fowl. So my chicken and I returned to Foodland.
I have to say I was very impressed with the Customer Service at Foodland. Not only was I able to replace the chicken (and got 21 cents back, whoo hoo), but the customer service person made the experience pleasant. She apologized for the bad chicken and because I had to return it, and very quickly and pleasantly processed the return transaction. This level of service is not usual in other stores, so I was very happy.
And the stuffed chicken dinner turned out great.
Friday, July 31, 2009
The answer is - The best organizations plan, and they monitor their progress towards their planning goals. I'm constantly harping on planning and measuring performance, so it's nice to have confirmation for my near obsession.
I call it the Goal Attainment System, and it consists of three parts:
1) Goal Definition
2) Action Plan
3) Performance Measurement System
Define the goals of the organization as a whole. Develop a plan of action to reach those goals. Develop a system to monitor the progress towards those goals. Simple.
So why don't more organizations do it?
Friday, July 10, 2009
I only recently signed up for Netflix. And I am impressed. How do they get those DVD's to me so fast? I'll put my return envelope in the mailbox at the post office at 2:00 or 3:00 pm and get an email notice from Netflix that they've received my envelope sometime later that night. Then only a few hours later I'll receive another email confirmation telling they've shipped my next movie. Amazing.
What can your organization learn from this? How can you increase your efficiency and customer service? I await your answers.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The news is full of talk about the rising cost of healthcare. But I’m always confused, because I don’t understand what costs are rising. At the same time there are reports of many doctors leaving certain areas, physical and specialty, because their pay can’t keep up with their bills (like paying off medical school, insurance, office rent, etc.). Nurses certainly aren’t being overpaid, so what costs are rising and why?
Well, I finally heard an answer, and it was very interesting. The NPR (National Public Radio) show Marketplace spoke with someone who had an answer. Apparently I’m not the only person thinking about this, and someone much smarter and more ambitious decided to look into it. Dr. Atul Gawande wrote and article and spoke with Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal about what he found.
Dr. Gawande looked at the healthcare costs in McAllen, Texas, which has one of the highest per capita healthcare costs in the nation, and the Mayo Clinic, which has one of the lowest costs of healthcare in the country. Why the disparity, especially given the reputation of the Mayo Clinic. As I said, the answer is interesting, and ties directly to this blog’s discussion of Business Operations.
It turns out that two of the primary causes of high healthcare costs are some of the same issues we find in Operations. The first issue is fragmentation. In McAllen, Texas, patients shuttle between many different facilities and service providers. There is no clarity to care, and also no central person or place dedicated to preventive care. This sounds exactly like the operations of many organizations with no clearly defined direction and plan to get there. In other words, no Goal Attainment System in place: Goal Definition, Action Plan, Performance Measurement System.
The second issue is the bias towards action. In McAllen, just about every test and procedure that can be performed is performed. There is no integration between the disparate service providers. And the natural human tendency to “do something”, even when you’re unsure of what to do, is in place. The problem is, sometimes it’s better to do nothing. At least not right away. Study and analyze the situation first, then propose a change, then implement it. Sounds like Six Sigma (the Six Sigma management system). I heard an interesting piece (public radio again) about human’s bias towards action a couple of weeks ago. Even when evidence proves that it’s better to do nothing, most people “do something.”
The thing I found most interesting was a study about soccer (football to the rest of the world) goalies and penalty kicks. This study proved that a goalie is more likely to block a penalty kick if he or she doesn’t move, meaning doesn’t jump left or right. But goalies almost always move. Even when not moving would be better. I’ve seen many organizations feel the need to do something, anything, rather than take the time to look at the issue and develop a better solution.
Maybe your new motto should be “Just do nothing”.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I occasionally check my stats to see how people arrive at this blog, what search leads them here or what website. By far the most popular searches that lead here are for things like “Hawaii rugby” and variations on that. What’s a little odd, though, is the second most popular search that leads people here – “Supermarket Operations”.
Apparently, quite a few people are looking for information on business operations for supermarkets. Sadly, though, it’s probably not the people at my usual grocery stop. I’ve posted a couple of rants about the poor performance of my neighborhood Safeway, and they’re not really getting any better. Ergo, they’re probably not reading up on improving operations.
Since I’ve only posted a couple of these rants, I wondered why so many people (so many being a relative term) ended up at my site. So I Googled “Supermarket Operations”. And there I am, sixth down on the list. Behind a company named Supermarket Operations, the Food Marketing Institute an organization dedicated to the food wholesale and retail industry, a book titled Modern Supermarket Operations, and an article about how big supermarket chains in Britain are driving out the small shops (seems that happens everywhere).
I poked around in these other sites a little, just to see what kind of information about supermarket operations is out there. And it’s not much. The best stuff I found was in that book, Modern Supermarket Operations, and that was printed in 1963.
One thing I did find interesting in the book (the first page of each chapter is available online) was that studies found that fully stocked shelves led to increases in store sales by up to 25%. Which tells me that people want what they came in for, not a substitute item. I know that’s how I am. And that’s why I’m constantly ranting about my supermarket being out of what I want.
I think I need to look into this a bit more and see what I can do to help supermarkets improve.
Modern Supermarket Operations (book, 1963)http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=6179602
Monday, May 11, 2009
I’m reading an article in the paper and I’m thinking, “which company would you choose to do business with?” This is a perfect example of two (very different) views on customer service. By that I mean that one company displays an understanding of customer service and provides it, and the other does not.
The swine flu is causing concern around the world and many businesses are taking precautions, for their operations, their employees, and their customers. In The Tale of Two Airlines, those precautions look quite different.
Hawaiian Airlines and Alaska Airlines announced their new policies for blankets and pillows on flights between Hawaii and the mainland U.S. Hawaiian Airlines will change their pillows and blankets every day, at least while the flu is still an issue. Previously, they changed the blankets and pillows every three days. Alaska Airlines, by contrast, will no longer provide blankets and pillows.
So Hawaiian Airlines increases their level of services (amazing for any airline these days), while Alaska drops their service down another notch (which is also amazing for any airline since customer service and airline can hardly be used in the same sentence anymore.) I know which company I’ll choose to do business with.
Which company are you? Are you the one that customers choose to do business with? Or are you the other guy?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Friday, May 1st - 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday, May 2nd - 9:00 am - 4:30 pm
Sponsored by the Hawaii Army National Guard.
7:00 pm Trophy Award Presentations and the announcement of the HAWAII YOUTH ALL STAR TEAM, RUGBY HAWAII REP SIDE and the WOMAN'S REP SIDE.
Location: 891 Valkenberg Street at the FLEET RESERVE ASSOCIATION BUILDING (off Nimitz Highway Ewa end, fire station and a small church is in the vicinity.)
ADMISSION: $10.00 Adults $5.00 Youth.......pupus and pizzas.
Tickets to be sold at the park or check with your coaches for your team allotment. DONATIONS FOR THE STATE TEAM going to the National All Star tournament at the end of May is also accepted.
I'm curious to see the final presentations next week. One of the teams that made it to the finals did a presentation to the Hawaii Venture Capital Association last week and was very impressive. The other two teams that presented at the HVCA meeting were very impressive too, but they didn't make the finals. So I'm curious to see the teams that did make it. They must be very good.
The moral of the story is that a good business plan takes several elements. A good idea and passion are a must, but that has to be backed up with a realistic and well thought out plan that includes research and analysis of the market and internal operations. I've seen too many good ideas go nowhere because the business side was sorely lacking. If you're planning on starting a business, get the help you need with the "boring" day-to-day business stuff so that your good idea doesn't go to waste.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The blog is Darren T Kimura - Energy Entrepreneurship. It looks like a lot of P.R. stuff, but it might be worth following. I interviewed Darren for my upcoming book and he's someone worth listening to. I don't really follow the tech side, but his thoughts on running the business are wonderful. Check out his bio on the blog site.
Not to try to sell you anything, but when the book is released (shooting for a Fall release) it will include highlights from the interview.
Percentage of U.S. companies that viewed their middle managers as unqualified to be promoted to the next level: 33
Percentage that rated their middle managers as "very qualified": 6
This tells me one of two things; either 1) all the middle mangers are dunces, or 2) all the top managers are dunces. I would have to go with #2, all the top managers are dunces. My first question to the companies that do not think their middle managers are qualified is - what are you doing about it? Are you providing training, mentoring, or coaching to you management staff? Why not? Do you expect them to spontaneously sprout excellence out of their ... ears?
Perhaps it's top managements fault for not providing clear direction in terms of responsibility, learning, and growth, then providing the opportunities for it. Wasn't it Deming who said that 85% of problems are caused by management? That includes top management.
Of course it is possible that many middle managers are dunces...
I may have worked for one or two...
I may have been one.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
So - What country is the biggest producer of manufactured goods?? Huh?
Drum roll please....
The United States!!! Ding! Ding! Ding!
Yes, the U.S. is still the largest manufacturer in the world. You'd never know by reading the news for the past five or seven years. Sure, Asia, especially China has been growing, but they still have a ways to go to catch up (although it will probably be soon).
Most people don't think of the U.S. as a top manufacturer anymore, but it hasn't all left. Mass produced consumer products and labor intensive goods have moved offshore, but that's only natural. The U.S. is still heavily involved in other products. Chemicals, including pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, Transportation Equipment, Food products, and Computers and Electronics are just some of the major industries.
Read more at http://www.parade.com/news/intelligence-report/archive/whats-made-in-the-usa.html
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Islanders 43 Tries - Marciano, Afa, Tiki, Jake, Tofi, Ray, Toa / Con - 4 Lofi
Harlequins 7 Try - Agamagi / Con - Setu
UH won against Kahuku by Default
Raiders had a bye
As previously mentioned, Tama Sulu Ie hasn't been playing since early in the season (I don't know why). And it seems some of the teams have been having trouble fielding enough players, so the past few weeks there's only been one game played.
But Hawaii Rugby is going strong. The youth and the Hawaii Youth Rugby organization have been going great. And the adult games, and especially the management of the Union, have been great. Looking good.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
UH 29 Tries - 2Mapa, 2Paea, Mone / Con - 1Salesi, 1Niko
Harlequins 14 Tries - Justin, Micheal / Con - 2Setu
Islanders 26 Tries - Vili, Afa, Tofi, Gage / Conv - Lofi, 2Andy
Raiders 5 Tries - Tui
Here's Week 6 and 5 results too:
Islanders 12 Tries - Toa, Anthony / Con - Anitelea
Kahuku 5 Try - Taki
Raiders won by default
UH - bye
Raiders 34 Tries - Leni, Tulolo, Fehi, Fatu, Ikuna, Pulotu / Con - 1 Selu, 1 Ikuna
Kahuku 29 Tries - 2Paka, Leni, Pati, Mike / Con - 2 Mike
Islanders 22 Tries - Anthony, Lofi, Andy / Con - 1 Andy, 1 Komasi / DG - Andy
UH 5 Try - Vite
You'll notice that Tame Sulu Ie are no longer playing this season. I don't know what happened, but it's a bummer. The game I watched between them and the Islanders earlier in the season was great. Hope to see them back.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
So a company that is struggling (it hasn’t been earning a profit) is going to cut the people responsible for the key areas that are needed to become profitable. Does this mean that they will have more inventory problems, untrained workers, fewer sales, and poor store merchandising? How exactly is that going to return the company to profitability?
During tough economic times, or any time really, you need to seriously think about what you’re doing, especially when you’re thinking of “cost cutting”.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I have a copy of this video on VHS. It's been re-edited and posted on YouTube by the writer and producer (Bruce Kane). It was originally created for a college to promote their online APICS eduction, but that program never took off, so it was re-edited for a general audience and sold to APICS chapters to promote their local educational offerings.
It's a great video. Enjoy!
Here's the YouTube link, in case you can't view it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KTpKL0lUJY
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
It's short, includes some great action shots, is attention getting, and brings enthusiasm to the event. This is a great idea, and a great job done with this. I'd like to seea report like this from every team in Hawaii. Send it out to your list immediately after the game (or event, if you're not a rugby club) to generate support and enthusiasm.
But beware, try to add too much and make it too long, and you'll bore everyone. A few sentences, a few pictures, and off you go. Just like this one.
Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
A lot of what they had to say I had heard before, but there were still some interesting and informative insights. Since I am definitely not a “high net worth” individual, I am not an angel investor (or any kind of investor, unless buying beer can somehow be considered investing). These people are successful, smart, and talented. Most of them are entrepreneurs themselves, and obviously successful if they are high net worth individuals.
One thing I’ve always wondered about is when, exactly, do angel investors invest in a company. I mean, at what point in the evolution of the company? When it’s just some whiz kid’s idea, when the company is up an running but doesn’t actually produce or sell anything yet, or once it’s already sort of a “real” company? Well, all of the above. Angels typically invest after the founder(s) have exhausted their own funds and tapped out their friends and family, but before they are farther along the growth and maturity scale where they can attract venture capital funding or can fund themselves through their own operations and sales.
The presentation was officially made by the Hawaii Angels organization, but how that works and how angels in general work can be a little confusing to the uninitiated. With the Hawaii Angels, the organization has a process for screening business plans and inviting companies to present live. Business plans are accepted and they go through a first screening. Apparently about half of them are immediately rejected because they are just so bad; amateurish, poorly written, or just plain ridiculous. The ones that pass the first screening are reviewed a little more closely. Still, standards are high and maybe only ten percent or less are invited to give a live pitch to the membership at their monthly meeting.
If the company makes a good pitch and some members are interested in investing, a committee is formed to investigate the company in more detail. I didn’t get all my questions answered, so from that point on I’m a little fuzzy, but I think that the committee then makes a recommendation to the organization to invest or not. But with angels, they are free to invest on their own at any time, and even if the organization (Hawaii Angels) invests, they can still invest more of their own money as an individual.
Investors put their money in a company based on the expectation that they will get it back, plus interest. They expect a return on their investment. Since the companies they invest in are inherently risky (small and new), they expect a pretty high return. To feel better about their risk, they have certain criteria for the company. Of course, each investor is a little different, but they’re all looking at some key areas.
One criterion is the company has the potential to be a big hit. That means could it possibly become a large, profitable, and self-reliant company very quickly, could it be bought by someone else, or could it be taken public (through an IPO, or Initial Public Offering)? Another criteria is that there is a good team leading the company. Investors are wary of a company that doesn’t have a strong team running it. That means that one or two individuals aren’t trying to do everything themselves. For a company to attract funding there has to be experienced or highly competent people in key positions, such as CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Marketing, CTO (Chief Technology Officer), and the CEO. Sometimes, to attract funding the founder has to step down as CEO and hire someone with more experience and ability.
All very interesting, and lots of information I can use when I review business plans and advise entrepreneurs (which I do). I’ll be volunteering as a coach for this year’s UH Business Plan Competition, and I can bring some of these insights to my coaching.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Manufacturing jobs in Hawaii dropped 2.2% this past year. The fact that manufacturing jobs dropped should be no surprise given the dire economic news lately, but in Hawaii??
I worked in manufacturing for many years, and whenever I'd go to the mainland for APICS meetings and tell people what I did I'd always get the same response - there's manufacturing in Hawaii?
People think of sun and sand when the think of Hawaii, but there's a thriving economy beyond the beaches (well, maybe not thriving right at the moment, but usually). According to an article in today's Star-Bulletin, there are 1,211 manufacturing companies employing 24,911 workers. Not huge by mainland standards, but hey, we're a small island in the middle of the Pacific with just over 1 million in population.
The majority of manufacturing is in the food industry, but surprising to me is that a significant portion is in the printing and publishing industry. I guess if you think about it that shouldn't be too big a surprise. Newspapers, magazines, and tourist publications are pretty numerous. I worked in jewelry manufacturing, food manufacturing, cosmetics manufacturing, and wood/gift products manufacturing and am a member of the Hawaii Food Manufacturing Association.
Still, I wonder if you counted the production of mai tai's as manufacturing how many manufacturing jobs you would have...
Oh, but because of some important bills in the legislature at the moment, let's not forget high tech manufacturing. Hawaii is the home of a vibrant and growing high tech community. That includes many different distinct high tech segments, but high tech manufacturing is one of them.
As Jay Fidell used to say; "Think Tech Hawaii".
Friday, February 20, 2009
Don't forget the Hawaii Youth Rugby Tournament March 26-28th at Kapiolani Park.
Kahuku 7 Try - Keni / Con - Keni
Harleguins 14 Tries - Mike, Steve / Con - 2Setu
Islanders 51 Tries - 3Moli,Toa,Ray,Neti,Vaa,Anothony / Con - 4Andy / Pen - Andy
Raiders won against Tama Sulu Ie by forfeiting
I just read an article in Inc. magazine (December 2008 issue, yes I’m behind in my reading) that ties into a conversation I had yesterday. The article is titled How to: Conduct Annual Employee Reviews. My conversation included why annual reviews are mostly useless and how a proper Performance Measurement system should work.
I’m doing some work with a small non-profit arts organization. The art is great. The business side needs a little work. Part of my discussion revolved around measuring the performance of the administration; Executive Director, Artistic Director, and the Board. Many non-profit arts organizations struggle financially and administratively. It almost goes with the territory. In that kind of environment, an annual review is irrelevant. Performance needs to be monitored constantly, as part of everyone’s daily work. To do that, it has to relate to something. Performance has to relate to progress towards defined goals.
The Goal Attainment System includes the Goal Attainment Plan, where the goals of the organization as a whole are defined, the Action Plan, where the map of how the goals will be achieved is developed, and the Performance Measurement System, where the performance and actions of everyone are tied to the defined goals and work towards achieving them.
With this arts organization, everyone should know where they stand at all times. The Executive and Artistic Directors will know almost daily how they’re progressing and how they’re moving the organization towards its goals. The Board meets monthly and should know prior to each meeting how the organization is progressing, and how both the Executive and Artistic Directors are doing in progressing the organization towards the goals. Any other paid staff and volunteers must be included in the system too.
When looking at performance and performance measurements for your organization, look at one industry where measuring performance is critical to success – the sports industry. I was thinking of an example while reading some of Wendy’s blogs at Your Scrumhalf Connection. Wendy is a top athlete, but she’s had a couple of injuries lately that have temporarily hindered her progress. Think about what kind of impact an annual performance review would have on her and her rugby club, rather than a dynamic and ongoing measurement system. A year ago Wendy might have been in peak condition and at the top of her game. A performance review then would be very high. But if you relied on that review to assign her work and give her rewards for the entire next year, that would be a mistake.
In rugby, whether at the local club level or at the international level, players are selected each week or just prior to each game. You can’t wait for an annual performance review or rely on last year’s to select players for the next game. You have to rate their performance right now, how they’ve been performing the past few weeks or months and how their fitness is right now. The club or team has defined goals for where they want to be. Each individual, whether player, coach, or administrator, must help to get them there. They must know at all time how they are performing and how they are helping the organization to progress towards the goals.
So chuck the annual reviews and start developing your Goal Attainment System and Performance Measurement System. And Go Wendy!