Optimize the Overall Business

Picture1As business leaders, we strive to have each of our areas improve its efficiency and effectiveness. Accounting, Sales, Marketing, Engineering, Operations, Project Management, Customer Service – each of these parts of the business needs to be as effective as possible.  Likewise, each of us needs to be as efficient as possible in getting our work done.

Isn’t that right?


As business leaders, our goal is to optimize the whole.  Only by doing what is best and most effective for the overall business will we have as successful a business as possible. Continue reading

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Think Twice and Do Once

WheelEvery Do-It-Yourselfer knows the carpenter’s advice:

Measure twice cut once. 

In successful businesses, a similar recommendation holds true:

Think twice and do once.

To so many of us, immediate action appears to be essential:

  • We are just doing it!
  • We are making it happen!
  • No ‘analysis paralysis’ here!

However, such action is often detrimental to the long term interests of the company and its customers as mistakes are made or work is done that does not need to be done.

Instead, we all need to think before doing by:

  1. Asking: “Is it worth it?”
  2. Thinking it through
  3. Pre-planning

In short, we need to work smarter and not harder.


Asking: “Is It Worth It?”

Before undertaking a new business strategy, profit improvement initiative, or other work, we need to ask whether what we are going to do is worth doing.

  • What will really change?
  • Will the initiative really get done?
  • Will the financial benefit truly be realized?
  • Is there a simpler way to get 80% of the value with 20% of the time and effort?

By asking whether something is truly worth it, we can often save a lot of time and effort that would be wasted on some initiative or program that we never really should have started.


Thinking It Through

As part of determining whether an action or initiative is “worth it,” we need to think through our actions before acting:

  • What will the results be of this action?
  • Will doing this really benefit the business?

‘Thinking it through’ is very difficult for most companies to do.  In fact, it is one of the hardest transitions for companies as they adopt a lean perspective.  Especially in the United States, we prefer action to thinking, and we struggle with the lean fundamental that it is better to do nothing than to do something quickly and wrong.

To think it through, we must assess all the implications, follow-on effects, and opportunity costs of performing some action.  In the end, this thinking ensures that we will only pursue those actions that make our customers or employees happier and that make our company better.



Finally, we need to pre-plan all of our actions.  We need to think about how we are going to do the activity, what issues might come up, what we might have forgotten, and how we can complete the action more effectively.  In safety, job hazard analyses are usually used to pre-plan an activity and determine how it can be done safety and effectively.  In sports, top athletes visualize their race, going through their race in their mind before they compete.  With our businesses, pre-planning ensures that we get the job done as safely, quickly, and effectively as possible.



By thinking twice and then doing once, we will be working smarter and not harder and be far more likely to realize our business goals.


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The Do’s and Don’ts of Public Speaking

Public Speaking 1The ability to speak well in public – whether giving a sales pitch to a customer, presenting at a Board Meeting, or speaking to a large group of employees – is an essential leadership skill.

  • Public speaking is fundamental for effective executive communication as a way to lead a group or team into taking some desired action.
  • For better or worse, most leaders are evaluated by their ability to speak in public.

To be a strong public speaker requires practice and keeping in mind some simple Do’s and Don’ts.



  • Focus on the End Result: As a leader, the purpose of public speaking is to inform, teach or remind your audience to do something that will help them do their jobs better and drive your company to success. Eloquent speeches, no matter how insightful or entertaining, are useless unless they lead to changed thoughts and changed actions.  As such, the focal point of any speech needs to be on the end result: what do I want my audience to do?  And a call to action needs to be the last point in any speech or presentation.

Continue reading

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10 Ideas for Improved Organization and Effectiveness

  1. Drowning in PaperPre-planning

      • “For every 10 minutes of pre-planning you do, we get four to five hours of productivity improvements.”
      • On a weekly basis, schedule the most important tasks and activities first and build our week around them
      • “The best day begins the night before.”
        • Pre-plan day to focus on important and critical path items
        • Create the next day “To Do” list of up to 7 items
        • Set up time to “meet with ourselves” to do the most important during our “prime time.”


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Communicate Upward

Communicate 1As managers, we need to encourage each of our employees to keep us informed about what is really going on in our companies, both the good and the bad.  We need to be kept in the loop about the larger issues, possible challenges, and problems that our employees are facing.

This upward communication does not happen enough for several reasons.

First, most of our employees just assume that we know about everything happening in our companies. Continue reading

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Write It Down

write it down -2I have previously written about the fundamentals of communication: The Three Keys of Communication. The focus of that blog was about how we can better communicate with our teams and others by:

  • Keeping the message simple
  • Repeating repeating repeating the message
  • Ensuring that our audience clarifies and confirms our message.

But, these three keys are often not sufficient.  When giving specific directions or instructions, we need to ensure that the people with whom we are communicating write our message or request down on a piece of paper or make a note on a phone or computer. Continue reading

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Continuous Improvement and Lean

Continuous improvement for cavemenDriving continuous improvement throughout our organizations is fundamental to short and long-term business success.

Continuous improvement requires daily improvement in everything that we (and our teams) do…even when we are too busy!

  • Are we better today than we were yesterday?
  • Will we be better tomorrow than we are today?

Continue reading

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