Troubled Waters Require Capable Leaders at the Helm
Canada's lean leaders need to look beyond the horizon and chart the future
In stormy times, true leadership skills emerge, says Larry Cotй, the President of Lean Advisors Inc. (leanadvisors.com)
The rumbles on our economic outlook are troubling. The dollar is still up, foreign investment, profits and sales are down. Low cost Asian competition is eroding our market share. Financial scandals and corporate governance issues keep flaring into the headlines. Disasters such as terrorism, possible pandemics, and war continually reshape the world in which we work and live. There are so many "big" global issues, so much apparent chaos, that our minds are often distracted from the day-to-day jobs we do leading our businesses.
The world as we know it has changed - both economically and socially. What hasn't changed however, is the customers' insatiable appetite for more value, faster delivery and better service.
Most business leaders are eager to return to their pre-recession profits and growth. But even when the economy is robust again, we may find the bounce back to previous profit levels is not a "slam dunk" in spite of a revived and thriving economy. During the past couple of years, while business executives have been making short-term decisions to survive, customers and markets have continued to change at a rate never seen before.
If we turn our worries and blame for new shortfalls to the currency fluctuations and Asian competition, it starts to sound like the same old "blame game" with different players. It's easy to fly high on adrenaline when you look at these global issues and threats. But, for a moment, let's step back and look at our business challenges from a lower altitude and a more local focus.
In doing this, we need to disregard the factors affecting our businesses that we can't influence and begin to look at those we can. The ones we have little or no influence over are things like the recession, currency fluctuations and major disasters. The area we can influence and affect is our own long and short-term strategies for transforming our companies, making them more competitive and customer focused.
The bottom line is let's stick to our "knitting," do our jobs and focus more on our roles as organizational leaders.
In North America we've proven that we can provide products and services competitively through innovation, inspired product development and comprehensive efforts to eliminate waste. But it does require a prolonged and concentrated effort. Leaders aren't hired to cry wolf when chaos threatens. The terms of employment are to use our leadership talents and drive improvements that will be seen and sustained on the bottom line.
We need to readjust how we use these talents and not be distracted by global factors, which are out of our control for the most part. We must accept the role we were hired for and focus on the business operations where we can have a real impact.
We are leaders, so let's lead. Most activities, whatever the company, can be classified as waste of one kind or another once you start to see it. As leaders, it is our responsibility to set the direction and motivate our staff to understand how to remove this waste properly rather than making incremental or point improvements.
This requires seeing and analyzing the process from end to end, not just at points or segments of the process. That becomes your road map to success.
Beneficial change happens in a very structured, sequential and organized fashion. Your teams aren't caught running around chasing low hanging fruit while creating what we call "exciting chaos." When everyone rushes reactively to improve their individual areas they feel virtuous, after all they are helping the company, aren't they? In fact, they are only improving their areas or departments, often at the detriment of the entire process. It's your leadership and your measured future state plan that will bring order to chaos. Reactive flurry kills profits faster than any big external threat!
Striving to improve our own competitiveness by providing customers faster and better products or services will accomplish more than worrying about the next global crisis looming just around the corner. The only futures game we need to be in is the one that cuts waste so the customer sees more value.
Science tells us that nature likes order - it's human agents that generate the chaos. There are things that we can control - so let's get busy and do it!
Larry Cotй is president of Lean Advisors Inc. You can reach him by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Larry is also a key organizer of the Lean Conference Canada event being held Sept, 15-16, 2004, at the Ottawa Congress Centre. For event details visit: (leanconferencecanada.ca)
About The Author
Larry Cotй is well known for his penetrating analysis and creative energy. He was employed by the Lean Enterprise Institute in Boston for almost two years as C.O.O./E.V.P. He was the Founder and President of the Lean Enterprise Institute Canada.
Over the years, Larry has worked with 100's of companies at various stages of their Lean journey in many different business sectors. He is particularly skilled at working with senior executives in the boardroom to plan, problem solve and create Lean corporate strategies.
His research and development work along with his past 'hands-on' experience has led to new ways to teach and communicate Lean across North America. These methods used in the past by Lean Advisors Inc. have proven to be very successful in promoting 'sustainability' within the organizations where they have been applied.
Larry has specialized expertise in Toyota Production System concepts, diagnostics and assessment of Lean readiness. He works with the corporate leaders to develop effective plans for transforming entire organizations using Lean and adapting it to their particular culture.
The Power of Strategic Thinking: Creating Meaningful Success
Too much goal setting and strategic planning can leave you feeling like you're working against the forces of nature; too little and you end up where you never intended to be-with a life or business that is bigger, smaller, or different than what you genuinely desire. Though getting you and your organization where you most want them to be at any given time can be hard work it can also be exhilarating.
Sales Planning and Business Plans
Writing a business plan can be tricky when all the books on the subject fail to keep updating their editions. One significant factor is the sales planning in business plans, yet few books show examples of how to explain online sales which will contribute to your over all stores sales in your retail outlet.
Parking Business, the Details on Increasing Lot Revenue
If you are in the parking business and own or manage parking lots you may want to think on some additional concepts to increase lot revenues. Whether you are looking to add value for your customers, expand your customer base, or simply increase your revenue, the addition of a car wash and/or detailing service to your parking facility may be the answer.
Business Process Methodologies
I've either been involved with or held a process-related role since 1994. It started in the government with TQM (Total Quality Management).
Shortening Product Life Cycle!
The current state of the available technology at the disposal of designer is the most limiting determinant to what is technically and economically feasible to develop, therefore research into metatechnology such as computer science, whereby interdisciplinary spin off provides advances that both directly increase capabilities, and affects other technologies to dramatically improve system performance, is a necessity, the implication being that despite many of the basic principles being relatively static, the technology used is essentially in a state of constant development.Such developments result in smaller, more efficient, cheaper and more reliable components.
Scheduling of Additional Auto Detailing or Mobile Car Wash Units
If you own a mobile car wash business or auto detailing business then you realize that when you are parked working you are making money and when you are stuck in traffic you are losing money. Sure you can say when you are in traffic people see you and write down the phone number, but you are not making money, that is potential future income, which is work you still must do in the future.
Water Conservation and Water Issues for Mobile Car Washers and Auto Detailers
Obviously, there will never be an actual water shortage since two-thirds of our earth's surface is water. The problem is distribution.
Consolidation in the Software Industry is Hardly New: Obsess About It or Risk Losing it All
Some analysts credit [Larry] Ellison with anticipating the consolidation in the enterprise software industry and leading the charge. Ellison 'called a major shift in an entire market, which was impressive.
Your Business: Will It Have A Happy Ending?
"Begin with the end in mind," says Stephen Covey in his book Seven Habits of Successful Living. Those who have created a successful business know it does not happen without planning, hard work, and a little luck.
Microsoft Great Plains Implementation: Placement/Recruiting Agency example - overview for consultant
Microsoft Great Plains does wonderful ERP job for horizontal markets and clientele. However in our opinion placement software market is underserved and needs custom modules to be developed.
Art of Succession Planning
Succession planning, like any business acumen, is both an art and a science. That is to say, there are many proven strategies that can and must be followed so that successful transition can occur.
Building a Better Brick-and-Mortar with the Billion-Dollar Web
More than $117 billion passed hands from Internet shoppers to Internet vendors in 2004, according to the statistical research firm comScore. That's billion, with a B.
Do You Have A Customer Identity Crisis?
The trick is to determine what uniquely identifies your best customers. Fortunately, deriving this information is not difficult, and in many cases can be obtained from innocuous questions.
Why Do a Business Plan?
To Grow (Catapult) Your Business That's Why.When it's in your head it's not as likely to happen--too much missed.
Business Plan Financial Projections: Stop Worrying About Being Right...
Business plan financial projections seem daunting because they are so uncertain. This very uncertainty, however, is what makes preparing them easy because you can't possibly be right.
Invalid Excuses for Poor Business Results - The Economy
Note to Rite Aid and CVS: It's not about the economyWhen Bill Clinton successfully unset the first President Bush, he focused on a sign in his Little Rock office: "It's the Economy, Stupid". His point was to focus his campaign on economical issues.
To Go or No Go, That Is The Question
Last week we talked about a few of the ways to test the feasibility of a business idea to help determine if the idea really had merit or just looked good on the surface. To recap, I said don't bet the farm on the opinions of friends and family, consult with knowledgeable business experts, and conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis.
How to Write a Business Plan Market Analysis
Writing a business plan is an essential part of the initial strategic planning of any company. One thing, which seems to hang up most entrepreneurs, is figuring out what kind of data and information goes into the Market Analysis section.
Business Results - Four Critical Success Factors
Scenario OneDuring a recent presentation, a business owner was given the following challenge. If 10 of his 100 employees were asked to name the top 3 organizational goals for the current year as they perceived them to be, would he receive the same 3 goals from everyone or would he receive 5, 10 or even 25 different goals? The business owner shook his head and thoughtfully responded, "No, I am sure that I would receive more than 3 goals.
TQM Total Quality Management, the book
Every decade we seem to come up with a buzz-word to describe the things we should be doing right all the time. Forever we have heard our parents or grandparents use little phrases to get our attention.
|home | site map|