Archive for November 2011
I was recently at a conference out of town and the keynote speaker reminded us of the importance for a business to have a Mission Statement. He gave an eloquent, passionate and well-reasoned speech and walked away from the podium to a hearty round of applause. Everyone appeared to be clapping as I watched… and sat on my hands.
In his speech, he challenged everyone to go back to their office and write a Mission Statement for their business if they did not have one. I didn’t wait to go back to the office to do mine. I sent the following text message to a business associate about 30 seconds after he made that challenge:
“Mission Statements are stupid, judge me by my actions”
As a sole proprietor, I do not have a Mission Statement and have not officially adopted the one I wrote above on my web site, business card or other things associated with my business. If you do have a Mission Statement please do not be offended. I think they are a great idea – in theory. In practice I think they are nothing more than fluff. If you have a small business with a small number of employees you probably can successfully integrate it into your employees’ mind-set yourself. In a much larger company it is an aspirational thought but I really doubt the ability for the company to pull it off.
If you really believe in Missions Statements; then I challenge you to adopt the one I wrote. At its core it says that you stand behind what you do and say and conduct business in a moral and ethical way. Ultimately it is how you will be judged by people. Decades of positive publicity and good will can be destroyed in an instant. We have all seen a recent example of that.
Have a great week, living out your Mission Statement.
I just learned that the new iPhone 4S takes pictures in high def. How wonderful. Cable company’s argue who has more high def channels and television makers are continuously improving their high def picture quality. I don’t own a high def television. I also use the word television and not “TV”. Don’t get me wrong one day I am going to buy a high def television. I can tell you when as a matter of fact. How so, you may ask? Well, it is really simple. I am going to buy a high def television when my old, low def non-flat screen picture tube television no longer works. I bet I buy one the same day the old one stops working. I will however; not buy one a moment sooner. The advertising budgets that are being spent by television companies are leading to very good results with market penetration well over 50%. I am definitely in the minority by not owning a flat screen, high def television. I also don’t have a smart phone. I guess I have a dumb phone. I am not anti technology, I just buy what I think makes the most sense for me. I also do not replace something if I am told it is obsolete.
In the business world if I fall behind in productivity or am unable to keep my customers happy because I need to upgrade technology then I do so without delay. The same reason I have not upgraded to a home theatre sound system is why I have not upgraded to a high def television. “Cheap” you may say? To that I respond with a resounding “nay”. Why upgrade sooner than I have to when I have bad eyes and bad ears? Too many years of working in loud environments as a kid and listening to music too loudly (digital music players with earphones haven’t helped much either) has diminished my hearing. My eyes went bad all on their own starting at age 13. Do not fret dear reader, I am probably years away from needing a hearing aid (and many years before I will face reality and stick one in my ear) but I find myself struggling to understand people in crowded rooms quite a bit.
Well, what is my point you ask? Actually, I don’t have one I was just warming up my angry old man routine. Now get off of my lawn! Back in my day…
Have a grumpy week, bah!
Life is a process. Everything significant thing we do has a process whether it is formalized or not. When you were a child and went over to a friend’s house to play a game for the first time, it was usually explained to you in brief detail and then by consensus it was decided to begin the first game as practice. Something as simple as learning a child’s game has a process.
Why do we need to talk about process? Without a well documented process it cannot be analyzed to see if it is optimal. Can it be improved? Why is that so important? Without an efficient process, waste will occur. If you are analyzing a process in a business environment that means labor, materials or overhead is being used in excess. Beyond that, the importance of knowing the process cannot be understated. It must be communicated and learned the correct way. Without the process carried out as designed by those involved, the best designed process will be wasted. This is what I call execution. Ironically, what I am about to tell you is a process – the process of developing and maintaining a process. See the steps below for a basic idea of how to do this:
1) Design it
2) Communicate it
3) Execute it
4) Re-evaluate and redesign it
Repeat steps 2-4
Typically, changes will be made in the process and that is why it is important to re-evaluate and redesign. Many times the change will come from outside of the organization and you will have to react to the change by adjusting the process.
In order to put some meat on the bones of this discussion let me briefly explain how I evaluated and improved a process for a client of mine. On a monthly basis my client had to report information to the state and was compiling the information from system reports using a legal pad and transferring the data by hand to blank forms for an assistant to complete on the prescribed state forms with a typewriter. I automated a process using an excel spreadsheet and saved an entire day each month or 12 days per year. I also downloaded a pdf file from the state web site that could be filled in which saved about two hours per month or 24 hours per year instead of using the typewriter. This example is an extreme but true instance of benefits or evaluation a process. Let me explain the additional advantages of examining and re-designing this process. By using excel formulas that were cell protected, the risk of math errors were reduced. I also added cross checks in the spreadsheet against the source data to further reduce the chance of errors. By using the fill in pdf form typing errors were reduced by using certain data from previous forms like name, address, identifications numbers etc and only completing information that changed each month.
This is not a game changing event for my client but every little bit helps. Like a mentor of mine once asked me years ago; “what chance is greater; to be run over by an elephant or bitten by a mosquito?” Of course I replied “to be bitten by a mosquito.” He then laid this one on me; “that just proves it’s the little things that will get you.” The little things do add up to make a big difference. Have a great week.
Can you believe I managed to talk about the importance of process and did not mention Ray Kroc or McDonalds Once? Oops, I did it.