Eliminating waste from the bottom up

eliminating waste

One of the things that gets lost in the complexity of getting a job done or doing the next task, is a focus on group work.  You need to be able to take a step back from the pieces of the system that you’re involved in and:

  • understand what’s supposed to come out the other end of the organization

  • what’s the value of what you are doing

  • understand your role in the organization

  • understand how the process within your organization help support that value

Over time, whether you’re management or somebody that is working as a component of that system, it’s important to be able to understand when what you’re doing needs to change. Things you should be asking yourself are:

  • How do I get rid of extraneous actions

  • How do I slim down what we’re doing as an organization so there’s less waste

  • How do we more effectively meet our goals

One of the things that people often don’t think about but it’s of critical importance, is that the things that you do in your day to day job that don’t drive value are things that are making the organization less competitive.  They are the things that are taking you farther away from the goals of your organization.  Waste to the organization aren’t just the big 100, 000 million dollar line items they are the time wasters such as the forms that have no point and the meetings that bring no value. Those things add up and if they are pervasive enough in an organization they can significantly change the competitive landscape. The world is moving towards a higher performing environment  and these time wasters will breed bad consequences for the organizations that don’t eliminate them.

People don’t think of that at Monday morning status meetings that go nowhere as the thing that is going to put the company out of business. While that may not be the one thing that ends an organization; it’s emblematic of things that are happening within the organization on a grander scale that could put you on the brink of going out of business. So I can’t stress how critical it is to focus on the big picture but sweat the details a little bit too. If there are things that you’re doing that don’t add to the bottom line then you really need to question whether you should continue doing them. Those things are by definition luxuries and if you’ve got time wasting meetings that add no value, maybe you’d get more value just by giving people that hour off. Maybe you could get some sort of benefit for being a kinder gentler organization, but certainly  no value status meetings are something to be avoided.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Don’t wait for opportunity to knock

Unknown

I think one of the most important things you can do for yourself is take an active interest in your career and search out the best opportunities for you to succeed. It’s critical that you keep your eyes and ears open as you progress through your career. While it’s great to be comfortable it’s also important to keep in mind that the next best job or the next best opportunity isn’t necessarily going to be there when you need it to be there; it’s going to be there on it’s own time.  So maintaining a bit of a monitoring stance is something that can pay dividends.

I’m not saying that this approach is for everybody. There’s a lot ot be said for continuity, being able to grow within an organization, building up trust with other people, and getting the type of satisfaction that comes with achieving complex goals over many years with a tight knit group of people. That’s something that you dont see that often anymore for various reasons.

If you’re even remotely thinking that you might do something a little bit differfent from your current job, you want to do yourself the favor of being proactive about it rather than waiting for something to happen that forces you to. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to look outside your current organization. It could be that you’re not aware of what’s going on within your organization. Make sure that your peers, boss, or upper management are aware of the capabilities that you have to step into some role that you dont have now but you feel that you could succeed in. This is preferable to standing by passively and watching them fill that role and position with somebody from the outside.

It’s important in managing your career that you periodically step back and take a look at the big picture. Ask yourself where do you want to end up in twenty years in order to make sure that you aren’t falling into a comfortable rut. This way you’re able to progress yourself and I think that’s the part that a lot of people don’t get right.  People work to develop their skills and sometimes they forget to look for that great opportunity unitl something forces them to. At that point your stuck with the opportunities that are available at the time and great opportunities don’t always happen on your time; they hapen on their own time.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Customer Focused + Results Driven = Success

Success math problem

I’ve been working in my selected field for many, many years.  For at least the last ten of those years I have been in an owner/senior leadership position within my organization.  Over those years I have learned countless lessons on the do’s and don’ts of entrepreneurship but I’d like to discuss two of some of the most important ones today. The first one I’d like to discuss is a commitment to being customer focused. I’ve found that one of the biggest keys to success is an absolute commitment to customer service.  For more than 10 years I‘ve given every customer I’ve ever had my cell phone number and told him or her they can always call the owner of the company; and I have never regretted giving them that option. Customer service is often the easiest thing you can provide and the thing they will remember most. Repeatable quality is important because your customers will always remember your failures more readily than your success.

If you do have a customer service set back it is critical to immediately be accountable. Accountability is critical in every facet of leadership but with customers, not being accountable will result in a lost customer that never comes back. Real leaders own their mistakes, learn from them and move forward. Occasionally you can even profit on the heels of a customer issue because it highlights an opportunity for improvement. These opportunities are the lifeblood of the entrepreneur.

Another important lesson I’ve learned is that being successful isn’t just being able to spot the opportunity in the mist of trouble but it is being able to tease out the problems you will encounter along the way and work with others to take the data available and make the right decision. Often this means making decisions without all of the information. Entrepreneurial activities often require working in uncharted territory with less than perfect information; this makes ensuring the analysis you have that much more important.

Once you have the information necessary to make the decision or reach the point at which either no more information will be forth coming or where the value of making a decision in the near term outweighs any further certainty in awaiting additional information it is critical to act decisively. Not making a decision is making a decision.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

A great business process re-engineering story hiding in a sales book

New appraoch to cold calling

I read Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com by Aaron Ross last night and came away truly impressed by the thought that had gone in the sales system he developed while at Salesforce.com. I’ve spoken quite a bit in these pages about Salesforce.com from the standpoint of the incredible force for integration it has become in the world. As a the reigning most innovative company in the world per Forbes and a leader in the cloud technology space there is plenty to talk about just from an innovation and capability standpoint. However, as I was running through some of the documentation they provide to enable partners I found a reference to Predictable Revenue and decided I’d buy the book. I’m always interested in people that are putting forward a system or method to doing things and I was curious about what I’d find between the covers.

Ten minutes later it was on my kindle and I was off and reading into the wee hours.

You may wonder why a sales post is appearing in a blog dedicated to organizational performance. It is here because the book is worth reading by anyone interested in how to drive organizational performance. The story may be about sales, but the substance is about developing a systems approach and implementing it with people, processes and technology. If you like re-engineering stories like Reengineering the Corporation: Manifesto for Business Revolution, A (Collins Business Essentials) or The Goal: A Process of Ongoing Improvement you will like this story.

Aaron talks about his own disappointment as the CEO of an internet company which landed him in a sales job at Salesforce.com after running through more than five million dollars in venture capital. One of the most interesting things he talks about is the sense of empowerment he got from essentially being allowed to innovate on the job. This jibes with things I’ve read by Daniel Pink including my post about “Drive” where I describe the need to empower your people. Aaron decided quickly that he wasn’t going to succeed using the typical method of cold calling target companies and beating the gatekeepers into allowing him to talk to decision makers and then hammering them into taking delivery of the product. It simply was getting him nowhere fast.

Instead he decided to focus on finding the right people to talk to with customers that actually wanted his product. He talks about trying to find a match between your solutions and customer requirements and his approach to the roles and processes used for demand/lead generation is something everyone in sales should read. He breaks down the entire sales process from demand management through fulfillment explicitly including coverage of people, processes and technology; something anyone reading this column should be familiar with. I think too often people approach sales as a mystical area where sales gurus sell ice to eskimos and everyone else is stuck cold calling people that would rather dodge traffic on the beltway than talk to you. Interested in learning how to stand up new processes in a rapidly evolving organization? This is a great book on how to get it done and if you aren’t careful you may learn something about sales while you are at it.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Troux: The answer to the new budget reality

Troux the answer to the new budget reality

 

I had the very good fortune to be invited to take part in a happy hour with great food and good drinks with Troux after the Enterprise Architecture (EA) conference I attended yesterday. Throughout the last few years where it seems as if every quarter has been their biggest quarter, they’ve also managed to consistently be rated amongst the leaders in EA in periodicals and places such as Gartner. I really believe that this is going to be their year in the Federal space and that everything will start to click for many reasons.

The first reason is the idea of Troux On-Demand. Some things that every customer is faced with when acquiring these types of decisions support tools is the big capital investment needed upfront, the resources required to get things going, and the sense that it’s going to take a long while to get to value. These can all be seen as strong deterrents. What has changed this perception in the Federal space is this idea of Troux On-Demand, a cloud service within the Amazon Gov cloud that can essentially be turned on and combined with the accelerator programs that Troux has developed to allow organizations to get to value quickly, in 90 days, 120 days etc.

The combination of those things is going to create this really unique package for Federal that allows organizations to come in, identify areas where they can save money, root out redundancy, and all the other things that organizations are going to have to do to meet budget requirements. The budget climate has gotten to where there is simply no way to continue on doing things the way they have always been done.  A lot of organizations that we’re talking to are just looking at what they’ve got for funding and trying to figure out how they are going to continue to deliver on the mission.

At last night’s event there was this real sense that the combination of need and the evolution of the technology was going to create this incredible opportunity in the federal space for folks that have cracked the nut on how to deliver answers in that space quickly, relatively painlessly, and of course cost is always a factor. By being able to address something as a service, you’re able to reduce that huge front end expenditure with some of these tools. You can see pretty rapid adoption even in the federal space which is sometimes a little bit more conservative.  So I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out. We’ve developed some federal specific offerings around the idea of coming in and understanding the portfolio quickly so we’re very excited about what they put together. I think there’s going to be a lot of people that see this as how they are going to continue to meet the mission given even the extraordinary challenges that we are facing today.

 

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Lessons learned from the shutdown

lessons learned

I have to say it’s really nice to be back at work in Washington, DC. That’s not to say that we weren’t working while the government was shut down but it is nice to have everybody back and know that things are going to be a little bit closer to normal for at least the next few months.  When I was in DC the other day, it was just good to see the streets full again. While I can’t say that I missed the traffic as much as I missed the people, you can’t exactly have one without the other so I guess I’ll take the traffic back as well.

Something I’ve noticed that seems to be unique to DC as opposed to some of the other big and busy  cities where people seem to be go out of their way to avoid eye contact is that DC is a seemingly more friendly place. I think part of this is because there are so many people that aren’t from here, they have a tendency to give you a smile and a hello which gives this big city a smaller town feel and I really appreciate that. For instance, the other day when I was walking down the street in DC and I saw a lady walking into her office and she gave me a big smile and said, “It sure is nice to be back at work.” It just felt really good and brings me to my point.

I really hope that one of the things that comes out of the shutdown, at least in the lower levels of government, is a renewed sense of partnership and renewed sense of ‘we’re all in this together’ sort of feeling. We need to sort things out both from the standpoint of public and private partnerships. We need to figure out how do we work together to achieve the mission of the agency, department, or even the country as a whole.

One of the things that came out of the shutdown was a very distinct sense that everybody is unhappy, no matter your party affiliation, with the way things have played out. There’s a sense that we can’t continue to go down this road. We’ve got to find a way to make intelligent decisions as a country and work together to carry ourselves through or we’ll just cease to be the great country that we’ve been for so many years, and I don’t think anyone wants that. So as you go to work this week or as you sit at home over the weekend, it’s worth taking a few minutes to think a bit about the big picture, learn from what has transpired on the national stage, carry it into our work lives, and focus in on driving value for the organization that you’re working for.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.

Leadership: the dangers of “yes-men”

Leadership and diversity

Spock – Not a “yes-man”

One thing I have learned unequivocally over the course of my career is the importance of diversity in achieving success. Leaders should be skeptical of too much agreement and actively work to bring in people that complement rather than duplicate their own viewpoints, backgrounds and beliefs. This diversity leads to an organization that is better prepared to handle complex challenges and more likely to develop a diverse set of innovative solutions to challenges. Innovation cannot truly flourish when you are surrounded by “yes-men.”

Of course with this diversity also often comes differences of opinion with regard to decisions making and other aspects of organizational leadership. I have learned over time that in order to reap the benefits of a diverse workforce you must be able to work within your team and organization to ensure that the inevitable conflicts are resolved in a manner that lends itself to the ability to achieve success as an organization.

This can often mean working within your organization and teams to develop the capability to handle this type of tension. The ability to develop others and to mentor and improve those in a manner that enables them to provide better leadership to their own teams and peers is a core building block of developing a high performing organization. It is also a key component of team building as a whole. The ability to develop others and the openness to enable others to facilitate your own development is a core component enabling the team as a whole to accomplish its objectives.

Thanks as always for reading my blog, I hope you will join the conversation by commenting on this post.

If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and following me on twitter @jmillsapps. I regularly give talks via webinar and speak at events and other engagements. If you are interested in finding out where to see me next please look at the my events page on this blog. If you would interested in having me speak at your event please contact me at events@joshmillsapps.com.

If you are interested in consulting services please go to MB&A Online to learn more.