8. Concentrate on meeting strategic goals
"Lack of top management commitment."
I've heard it a thousand times. It's a major concern as people think
about climbing the ladder to the new comfort zone. Many fear they
will hear a chainsaw half way up! At the same time, we hear
executive management voice deep concern and frustration about the
organizations' resistance to change. Something's wrong with this
The overwhelming majority of executives are fully
committed. Yet, the perception that they are not lingers on. Why?
Many times the troops are asking for support and commitment to fix
problems that aren't connected to reaching the strategic objectives
of the business. Executive management is responsible for using the
total resources of the e business to satisfy the customer and
maximize shareholder return. How can they be committed to specific
projects that don't have a clear connection to achieving the
strategic goals they're responsible for? They can't. The answer is
to focus on tasks that directly contribute to the strategic goals of
9. Early victories
Conventional wisdom encourages us to work on the
big opportunities. We have traditionally been taught to focus on
solving the few problems that will provide the maximum return.
Unfortunately, the big opportunities also represent the biggest
risk, will take longer to solve, require more approvals, and larger
teams of people to work on them. Success breeds success. Initially,
we need successes. The initial objective is to build momentum. Focus
on small, not global, issues. For example, improving inventory turns
is too broad for an initial objective. Initially focus on
improving record accuracy in the raw material warehouse, reducing
changeover time in Department 45, reducing lead times from two or
three key suppliers. Concentrate on tasks that can be done in 90
days or less.
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10. Think horizontally
In previous newsletters, we discussed the Silo Effect. We have
traditionally organized our business by dividing up the duties and
assigning people into functional silos. Yet the objective of this
enterprise is to satisfy customers, and that requires high quality
performance in a series of activities that are linked together to
form the best business processes. We need people to
view their responsibility in the business to serve the internal
customers well and support their internal suppliers. The
individual's objective is not to optimize sales, manufacturing or
the balance sheet. Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Who are my internal customers?
2. What are their expectations?
3. Am I meeting their expectations?
4. What is the internal customer's perception of the first
11. Better yardsticks
A few years ago, a survey conducted by Boston
University cited... "performance measurements currently in use
may be the millstones around corporations neck."
As long as we keep measuring and awarding people
based on their silo performing well, they will concentrate on doing
whatever is necessary to get their silo to perform well, even at the
expense of the horizontal business process. Perhaps we should begin
using the internal customer's measurements of their internal
supplier for individual promotions and raises, rather than the
boss's. Depending on the boss to evaluate the individual causes
people to look vertically, not horizontally. For example, when the
manufacturing is evaluated on minimizing unit costs, maximizing
efficiency and utilization, the players in the manufacturing silo
won't be too excited about making the specials and wide product
variety that Sales is selling.
Competition has mandated that we get better or
get out. Change is non-negotiable. Change is also something we can't
mandate, purchase or just wish it will happen. Change is the result
of a well planned and executed process.
Do people resist change or fear failure? I
believe it is the latter. Their comfort zone is a safe haven from
failure. Moving to a new comfort zone and then to another new
comfort zone and another... is a skill the World Class competitor
must master or face the inevitable consequences. World Class
Performance means constantly improving faster
than your competitors. It means a series of constant journeys to new
The path, the proven process to climb the ladders to new comfort
zones, has been blazed. It is exciting and worth the trip!
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