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Individuals have a personal character. It is what defines them, and over the last year you have heard a lot in the news about character. Busi­nesses have a character as well. As your personal character defines your interpersonal relationships, whether or not you are trustworthy and therefore whether or not you are trusted, for example, your busi­ness character defines your relationships with other businesses. There­fore, your business ethics, your business morality, your business val­ues, and your business attitudes will have as dramatic an influence on your business relationships as your personal ethics, morality, values, and attitudes will have on your interpersonal relationships.

As customers, we know which companies value our business. Our customers know as well! They see how we do business, and whether or not we operate with integrity. They make their purchase choices accordingly.


Competence refers to mastery. Through your life you have learned new things, and those things you have had experience with, have practiced, and have become proficient with have become your competencies. Competency is based on learning, through education, and practice, through training. You have mastered certain abilities. Ability refers to things that you can do well. Perhaps you are an excellent analytical thinker, problem solver, planner, well organized, creative thinker, or self-disciplined worker. All of these are abilities you carry with you into whatever you undertake. You have mastered skills. Those skills might be interpersonal skills, such as conflict resolution and commu­nication, or job-related skills such as financial management, perfor­mance assessment, planning, or some technical skill. You have mas­tered certain knowledge. From books, seminars, workshops, and expe­rience you learned things that you did not know before. That knowl­edge is related to specific content areas, but also includes an under­standing and knowledge of how to find out what you don't know and how to locate resources to help you. As a result of your education and training, you have been able to develop multiple competencies, and so has your business. This is true of businesses as well. They have capa­bilities, which can become areas of expertise, and then become com­petencies. For manufacturing this might be the ability to customize products, short lead-time, overnight order fulfillment, or outstanding service. These competencies become order winners—those capabili­ties that mean additional business for you.


What specific results are you trying to achieve, and how well are you achieving those results? This requires frequent and ongoing evaluation by your customers, and comparison with your competitors. You must evaluate yourselves and ask others to evaluate you. Your customers are your most important source of evaluative material. You can find out how your customers evaluate you most readily by looking at your mar­ket share, your sales, and your profit, but that isn't enough. You must also ask your customers to tell you often, and comprehensively, what you are doing well, and what you could do better. Be prepared for their responses. Take action to improve processes, improve products, and improve service based on what they tell you.

Benchmark yourself against other businesses as well—those busi­nesses with the best business practices. It isn't necessary that these businesses be in the same industry as you are; in fact, they could be in any business at all. It is only necessary that they be the best at some capability, and that you measure yourself against them. What do you need to do to achieve the same results that they have achieved? For example, benchmark your customer service against Nordstrom's. Benchmark your delivery against Federal Express. Benchmark your quality against Motorola. Benchmark your training against USAA.


Hundreds of team-building exercises demonstrate how much more ef­fective you are working together than working alone. Teamwork is used more and more often in project management, quality manage­ment, and new product development because it is more effective than traditional processes. One person may know a tremendous amount about a topic, but one person's knowledge is often not enough to manage complex issues and processes. It is often important to explore other perspectives, to include other information, and to make use of skills and abilities that you don't have in order to reach the best possible solution. To operate in an environment where this synergy is nourished requires special competencies, both management as well as supervi­sory, than those of the traditional environment. Special team-building and team-management skills are required in order to maximize your ability to perform. Additionally, networking skills also keep you con­nected with others who can help you. Keeping lines of communication open with others, can help you when you need access to unusual re­sources, or need information about unfamiliar material.


Ultimately you must provide value in the eyes of your customer. Value is generally measured by the customer in terms of quality, cost, sched­ule, and service. You must ensure that the product or service you pro­vide meets or exceeds your customer's expectations. In addition, how­ever, your customer may have additional requirements. Flexibility, environmental practices, and location are just some of the characteristics that could potentially influence a customer's purchase decision. You must know them, and then be capable of meeting their requirements. Communication with your customers is a critical part of providing the services that they require. Today it is more important than ever to en­sure that in addition to meeting the customer's requirements you are also providing a service to your community. There is hardly any better marketing strategy, recruiting strategy, or positive public relations strat­egy than community service. It provides your business with local rec­ognition and access to additional pools of potential personnel, and it can contribute to an excellent image for your company. Thus service means both service to your customer in the form of meeting their re­quirements and service as a contributing member of your community.


Understanding and using these secrets, these concepts, can help busi­nesses improve customer service, improve competitiveness in the mar­ketplace, reduce costs, improve responsiveness and delivery perfor­mance, and increase market share. There is, however, an additional aspect of these secrets that is applicable to the individual. Applying these same secrets to your lives as individuals can help you manage your personal lives with more confidence. Having a personal strategy, understanding your family, your friends, and your co-workers, being of good character, mastering new competencies, evaluating your suc­cess and your progress regularly, experiencing the benefits of synergy, and being of service can improve the quality of your life as well!

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and click on Series 10

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