I have just finished a fantastic project for client in the vehicle industry. Here are a few observations that I made during the work:
- People will always do things in the way that they were first shown. Certain people won’t make changes unless they are invited to. You need to create a culture of change and innovation and allow people to experiment, make mistakes and improve.
- Distractions are twofold. First, they take the person away from the task in hand, stopping progress. Secondly, after the distraction has been dealt with, it is harder to pick up the pieces. Look at the distractions around you and eliminate them.
- People like to store key information in their heads. But what happens when someone leaves, needs cover, or specifications change? Write it down! Create customer specification documents so that everyone knows what they are. Create checklists to make sure important activities actually happen when they need to happen. Define work instructions to create standards and eliminate variation.
- We have become obsessed with ‘covering’ ourselves, ‘just in case’. We print endless reports, emails, documents, and file them so that we can look them up IF the unthinkable happens. If the unthinkable happened, could you actually retrieve the item from the hundreds of archive boxes? What do you really need to be able to provide a reasonable trail? Devise a ‘paperless’ system where data is easy to retrieve, and don’t be tempted to produce a duplicate hard copy!
How often do your customers come back for more? Do they buy from you in small quantities? Do they purchase a wide range of your services and products or a select few?
I’m often asked how I help organisations to increase their repeat business – especially as I am NOT a sales specialist.
To win more business from your current customer base, you need to leverage your quality. Here’s a few techniques I use:
- Monitor your customer’s perceptions of your business – and take appropriate action. Make it easy to do business with you. Make it even easier for people who have already bought from you, to buy again. Base your actions on fact. What do they like about your company? (do more of it). What don’t they like? (fix it – and let them know about it).
- Implement business standards appropriate to your products and services. Standards demonstrate the abilities of your organisation and providence confidence in your products and services. If there are standards published – implement them – and tell your customers. If there aren’t any appropriate published standards (very unlikeley), create your own – and tell your customers.
- Improve your processes. streamline how you deliver your products and services to your customers so that the entire process is smooth, and ensure a pleasant experience both for you and your customers. Improve your processes so that you always deliver on-time, every time.
- Eliminate all errors and mistakes. We all make mistakes every now and again. However, if your customer has to put up with regular hiccups, they may start to look elsewhere. You need a system to capture problems, deal with them, and then a process to change something so it never happens again. Stop fire-fighting!
- Take complaints seriously. Create a system to capture complaints (in all forms), analyse them, and to take action. Taking action means to change something so that the complaint never happens again. Also, include your customer in the process. Let them know how important their feedback is and what you are doing about it. You can turn a complainant into one of your best clients.
Which of these strategies will you use to increase the amount of business you receive from your current customer base?
For more information, click here.
My website homepage has had a small face-lift this week. You will see that I have made it easy to understand the difference that engaging in projects with me have made to my clients. I have grouped the main benefits into 4 blocks of value:
- Win new contracts, new tenders/bids, and the ability to enter new markets
- Reduce costs, improve throughput, eliminate waste, remove complexity and
- Retain customer base, increase customer satisfaction and increase repeat
- Eliminate fire-fighting, increase productivity, reduce stress and retain key
How this value is realised, differs from project to project. Methodology isn’t important, however, projects generally include 1 or more of the following strategies:
- Design, installation and improvement of management systems and business standards
- Improving business processes, systems, standards and productivity
- Defining growth opportunities and utilising organisational quality to eliminating their barriers
- Error-proofing businesses to completely eliminating fire-fighting, errors/mistakes/rework/return
All of the work that I do falls into one or more of these strategies., which are derived from my value proposition.
A good exercise to perform periodically, is:
- Define your value proposition
- Define the strategies you use to deliver that value
- Identify the value (the difference you make to the clients’ condition) that these strategies create
Notice I have missed methodology out of this list? Clearly, we need methodology, but really, it is of no interest to your clients. They should be focused on value, not deliverables.
How do you make it easy for your prospects to understand your value?
I didn’t understand it much because what the Colonel said was full of tactics talk. Later, the Captain explained it, and that was better but not much. So then Sergeant Tyree showed it to us by drawing lines on the ground with a stick. That way it was clear as it could be. – Shelby Foote, historian and author of ‘The Civil war: A Narrative.
Wouldn’t it be useful for you to be able to represent your business, in pictures?
Let’s start with the basics. What is a process? A process is a series of related activities that must be completed to produce a result or output. In business, processes are the things we do, the activities we perform, day in day out, to keep our organisation going. They are what we do to define, market, make and deliver our services and our products.
Since a process implies movement, it seems logical that we use lines to help us understand them, representing the flow of information or product through our business.
Symbols on these lines indicate activities (or periods of non-activitiy) that must be completed to progress towards completion and are recorded in a real-life scenario (in sequence or in parallel).
Charting your processes will tell you:
- what is being done
- by whom? where? when?
Following this, we can then as why?
Process charts can add value by helping you to:
- identify current methods and practices
- identifying bottlenecks in the business
- define transparent processes so that everyone understands the system
- understand and fix problems
- standardise the way you work
- train current and new employees
- continually improve how you do business
- focus on value rather than activities
- understand internal customer/supplier relationships
- reduce fire-fighting
- reduce errors/mistakes
There are a number of methodologies available to chart your processes, including:
- BPMN (business process model notation)
- 6 Sigma (DMAIC)
- value stream maps
However, the methodology I like to use is simple:
- document what is happening now
- define the opportunities for improvement
- create a desired future state
- manage the transition
Have you documented your business processes? What did you learn? If not, why not?
Unlike writing, speaking is an integral part of our daily lives. When it comes to public speaking, it may be true that some people are gifted with a natural flair for speaking well, but we all have our own styles. Whilst we should always tailor a speech to the specific environment and audience, here are a few other points that you might want to consider to deliver an effective speech:
- Clarity. Clarity of expression comes from clarity of thought. Have you ever found your mind wandering during a speech? A cluttered mind can’t come up with clear ideas and certainly won’t express them effectively. So clear out any negative thoughts, tasks you need to complete later, phone calls you have to make, and focus on your message.
- Logical organisation. Changing from one point to another should be smooth and sensible. The sequence of ideas should be planned in advance so that your talk is has flow.
- Precision. Don’t make vague statements. If you are imprecise in your points, how can your audience appreciate them?
- Audience. Analyse your audience before planning the nature and style of your speech.
- Catch-phrases. If you can use some attractive phrases that would effectively draw out the attention of your audience to your subject matter, the speech will be far easier. Remember ‘Change – Yes We can’ from the 2008 US political campaign? Hardly inspiring but it stuck and achieved huge results.
- Courtesy. Respect your audience whilst you speak. Show empathy where appropriate and never appear arrogant.
- Unwise generalisation. Don’t make generalisations in the hope of convincing your listeners. Generalisations such as ‘no sensible person will agree’ is negative and there might just be one in your audience!
- Sincerity. Your views should be from the heart. Be yourself.
- Goal. Keep your goal in mind. Don’t ramble about something that isn’t associated with your overall objective.
- Illustrations. Use examples and illustrations to ensure your audience understands your point.
- Dress. Dress for the occasion. Posture is also important. Don’t distract your audience from your speech by being in appropriately turned out.
- Style of delivery. Control your voice to suit the occasion. Your pitch and tone can be controlled and manipulated based on the environment. Use humour if it suits the occasion.
- Pronunciation. If, like me, you are a Yorkshireman, you might struggle with this! Accent and diction are important. Your audience might be distracted by your pronunciation and miss your point.
- Mannerisms. Identify and avoid both verbal and non-verbal mannerisms so they don’t distract your listeners.
- Feeling. Put feeling into your voice and make your speech expressive.
- Alertness. You can’t afford to be casual if you want your speech to be effective. There has to be a great amount of alertness in your approach, and in your mind to deliver an effective speech.
- ……..bonus time! Be in the moment. You can plan a speech for hours, but react to your audience and engage with them.
Have I missed anything? What would you add to the list?
Recently, I was reminded of how important it is to live by your ethics and beliefs, and not be dragged down by those who don’t meet your standards.
Sometimes, you just have to walk away. Not all people share your beliefs, and if you aren’t careful, you’ll be wasting time and energy on them.
If someone doesn’t return your calls, reply to emails, or follow-up when they said they would, then they aren’t going to produce a trusting relationship – the building blocks of business. They are simply rude, unorganised and unprofessional.
It can be hard to walk away, but wasting your time on someone who is constantly rude is demoralising and frustrating.
There are people who appreciate your value – spend time on them instead.
Many companies undertake projects, but my best clients do so in a professional, controlled way.
ISO 21500: 2012 provides best practice guidance to achieve business results through improved project success.
This new standard offers a better understanding of key principles to support management and establish a common basis on which to compare project standards and practices with those of others.
Project management differs from other management disciplines by the temporary and unique nature of projects. Generally, this work may be categorized as either operations or projects. These differ primarily as follows:
- Operations are performed by relatively stable teams through ongoing and repetitive processes and are focused on sustaining the organisation;
- Projects are performed by temporary teams, are non-repetitive and provide unique deliverables.
BS ISO 21500:2012 allows you to:
- Achieve organizational strategy
- Grasp successful project management skills
- Increase opportunity evaluation and project initiation
- Meet project goals and key objectives
- Develop competencies in management principles and processes
Every project team requires competent individuals who are capable of applying their knowledge and experience to deliver key objectives. Any identified gap between the available and required competence levels on a project team can introduce risk and should therefore be addressed.
This International Standard can be used by any type of organisation, including public, private or community organizations, and for any type of project, irrespective of complexity, size or duration.
Do you manage projects? If so, consider using the latest best practice. Contact me for more details.