Status quo is dead! There is no place for the status quo as we proceed
into the competitive business environment of the 21st Century. When it
comes to competition there can be no holding your own, if you're not
winning then you're loosing - there is no longer a status quo!
If your company is faced with stiff competition, don't miss our lead
article on "Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution".
Strategic planning is a must do activity for companies faced with tough
competition and obstacles that challenge their pursuit of growth and
profits. The article focuses on developing relevant tactical plans and
achieving total commitment for successful execution.
An important long-term objective of your CKN is to help business teams
reach their full performance potential. Make sure your key people get a
chance to read the article on "Tips On Achieving 99.9 Percent
Don't pass-up sending your key manufacturing and finance people to our
two day seminar on Kaizen Based Lean Manufacturing (KBLM). They'll learn
why and how our application methodology builds the foundation for MRP, ERP
and lean manufacturing success. Next scheduled KBLM
Seminar is in San Diego, CA on September 19-20. For an e-brochure,
CLICK HERE and enter "SEMINAR" as your email subject.
We suggest that you both print and archive this newsletter for current
and future reference. Feel free to make copies and share with colleagues.
This newsletter has reached your desk because we share a common
objective -- to help key manufacturing people avoid "burnout"
while achieving their full performance potential.
Business Basics, LLC
COMPETITIVE KNOWLEDGE NEWSLETTER - JULY
Featured Articles in This Month's Edition of CKN
1. Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution
2. Tips On Achieving 99.9 Percent Customer
3. Don't Let Travel Sabotage Your Exercise
4. Managing Phone Tag
5. Business Anecdotes and Famous Quotes
How to Write a
Business Plan for
I. Strategic Planning and Tactical Execution
Strategic planning is a business process that many companies employ to
identify critical success factors that set the course for future growth
Lewis Carroll in "Alice in Wonderland" makes a good case for
it: "Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from
here?" said Alice. "That depends a good deal on where you want
to get to," said the Cat. "I don't much care where…,"
said Alice. "Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the
Like most business processes, the key to success is the effective
implementation of the plan. Companies that do a good job of developing and
executing their strategies can create a competitive edge that provides
increased market share and higher gross profit margins. Organizations that
turn their plan into a "dust collector" upon an executive
bookshelf, will never achieve their full growth and profit
Most criticism of strategic planning is aimed at the planning process.
They question the validity of a plan that has been based on market "guestimates",
the questionable valuation of the depth and breadth of competitors and an
optimistic assessment of the company's internal strength and weakness. The
fact that strategic plans can be overly optimistic is not the core
problem. Although the criticism may be appropriate, it puts the focus for
improvement on the wrong end of the process - it is the implementation
task that is critical to producing positive results and it is here where
most companies fail at strategic planning.
Poorly implemented rational, strategic plans will produce limited
positive results. On the other hand, overly optimistic strategic plans,
effectively implemented, can produce results beyond everyone's
expectations. This being the case, what is the key to effective
implementation? In one word - commitment!
Companies that are good at strategic planning build commitment to the
planning process and to each of the strategies within the plan. They build
commitment throughout the organization, working with people from all
business functions to build commitment before, during and after
development of their strategic plan.
Winners begin early in building a commitment to the strategic plan.
Suggestions are encouraged from managers at all levels, from key
executives who will participate in the planning sessions, and others who
will share responsibility for implementing the resultant strategies.
Together, they surface issues that will require changes in business
process and/or culture and identify those constraints that will need to be
overcome if implementation is to be successful
During planning sessions, key executives from each functional area are
all encouraged to participate and contribute to the plan. These executives
develop strategies that build on organizational strengths and consider
resources required to accomplish those strategies. They assure that a key
executive "owns" each strategy and commits to a time schedule
for its accomplishment. The key executives give thought to resource
planning - realizing that human resources are the key to making positive
things happen in difficult, complex business environments - and they
Following the development of their plan, those responsible for
implementations develop their own "tactical plans." These action
plans, when coupled with self-directed work teams, are major contributors
to a successful Strategic Planning implementation. Teams use their plan to
manage, to make decisions and to grow their business. Periodically, they
review their "tactical plans" to monitor and report on the
progress of implementation - keeping the plan "alive" by
revising strategies and tactics when necessary.
Finally, to insure successful implementation of their strategic plan,
they work on the planning process itself. The planning group continuously
"fine tunes" the planning process to insure that inputs from all
business functions are given their due consideration and to insure that
buy-in and commitment to the final plan is agreed upon throughout all
levels of the organization.
So, why are most operations management teams outside of the strategic
planning process? Why do many line managers view strategic planning as a
make work project that produces little or zero value to customers? Maybe,
it's because they did not participate in its development nor did they
buy-into its validity - let alone commit to the execution of its strategic
objectives. In short, they're not connected to the process! To achieve a
company's full growth and profit potential, CEOs and business owners need
to insure the active participation of operation management in the
strategic planning process.
Balanced Scorecards can provide focus and performance feedback for
strategies and objectives and raise the level of implementation success.
Business Basics has recently released our Balanced Scorecard Tutorial to
help business teams improve their strategic planning and
effectiveness. To check it click here--->Performance
How to Write a
Business Plan for
II. Tips On Achieving 99.9 Percent Customer
What performance standard in customer satisfaction should a winning
business set? According to author V. Clayton Sherman, excellent
organizations set 95 percent customer satisfaction as a minimum and aim
for 99.9 percent satisfaction. Why?
As Sherman writes, "The 95 percent minimum standard is based on
the finding that 92 percent is necessary just to stay even; because the
dissatisfied 8 percent talk to so many others, at 92 percent satisfaction
you are merely staying even with [competitors]. To win, an organization
has to be achieving at some point above 92 percent."
What are some ways to improve customer satisfaction?
Sherman recommends the following for both external customers and
internal customers (i.e., anyone within your organization who used your
- "Fix the rub points," or points at which a
customer interacts with or "rubs against" the system.
Examples? A customer's long wait for service or confusion over product
assembly, a delay in receiving feedback from another department, or
inferior samples given to a technician.
- "Beware the Questionnaire" which can be
read in ways that don't accurately reflect the customer's reality.
Sherman notes that our familiarity with routine - or "operational
blindness" - can prevent us from seeing freshly as a customer
would see us. His solutions?
- Role-play the customer and take the
time to go through all of the steps required by both an internal and
an external customer using your service.
- Often, a survey is not required.
Simply ask your internal customers, "What can we do to make
your job easier?" Ask external customers questions like,
"What can we do to make our service better?"
- Try the "Walk a Mile in My Shoes Program,"
advises Sherman, where associates and managers rotate time working in
other department s to observe interactions and problems from another's
point of view.
How to Write a
Business Plan for
III. Don't Let Travel Sabotage Your Exercise
With little forethought, you can continue exercising even while
traveling for work or pleasure. Robert Pritikin, director of the Pritikin
Longevity Center, suggest the following: >> Keep exercise clothing -
especially shoes - in a separate and handy bad. If you have a long layover
at the airport, stay your carry-on luggage in a locker and take a few
brisk turns around the concourse. If you are on a long drive, stop at a
park or rest stop for a 20-30 minute walk or jog.
- Bring your favorite light-weight exercise props with
you - a headset, exercise tapes or exercise rubber bands, and if you
are in shape and able (i.e., no knee problems), pack a jump rope.
- Use the lunch hour during business meetings for a
quick salad followed by a 20-30 minute walk.
- Call your hotel in advance to ask about their fitness
facilities. Do they have a swimming pool? Lifecycles?
Some hotels give their guest passes for a nearby health club. Others
provide guests with maps outlining nearby walking or jogging routes. a
quick call ahead prepares you to take advantage of what your hotel offers.
How to Write a
Business Plan for
IV. Managing Phone Tag
For every ten times you use the telephone, you will reach the person
you wanted only three times, estimates communications consultant Nancy
Friedman in Using the telephone More Effectively. With averages like that,
it's small wonder the phrase "telephone tag" permeates our
Here are some tips on making the most out of the seven times you try to
reach someone without success, by phone or fax:
- If you reach a secretary or administrative assistant,
find out when to try your call again. This step saves you time and
lets others know you are busy, too.
- If you have to leave a message, make it a specific,
but short message, and include the following information:
- The best time for your party to return your call
- The points on your agenda, plus any deadlines
(i.e., "I need the report by the 4 p.m. Wednesday staff
- Your phone number. If your party receives your
voice message while they are out of their office, they may not have
your number with them.
As Author Madeline Bodine advises, "Although these skills are
basic, don't let their simplicity fool you." They work!
How to Write a
Business Plan for
V. Business Anecdotes and Famous Quotes
The underlying premise of teamwork is that the whole is greater than
the sum of its parts. This was true of the Boston Celtics from 1957 to
1969. In those twelve years the basketball franchise won eleven NBA
Championships, yet never had a player among the top three scorers in the
league. the Celtic's baseball counterpart was the 1949 - 1953 New York
Yankees, who won five World Series without ever having a player who led
the league in any major batting department.
The Moral? What matters most is not who you work with but how your team
works together to make the most of everyone's strengths and opportunities
An emissary from a learned society came to invite naturalist Louis
Agassiz to address its members. Agassiz refused on the grounds that
lectures of this sort took up too much time that should be devoted to
research and writing. The man persisted, saying they were prepared to pay
handsomely for the talk. "That's no inducement for me, " Agassiz
replied. "I can't afford to waste my time making money."
- - The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes
"The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their
commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of
- - Vince Lombardi, American professional
"Quality Leadership emphasizes results by working on methods.
Problems are solved, not just covered up. Dr. Deming tells us to give
customer's concerns top priority, to study and constantly improve every
work process so that the final product or service exceeds customer
- - Peter R. Scholtes, The Team Handbook
"You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go,
the more chance there is of stubbing your toe, but the more chance you
have of getting somewhere."
- - Charles Kettering