Executive Blog

MetaExpert Richard Vales
Because I work in a variety of industries, the communications problems vary to some degree but it appears to me that it comes down to perception. For example, the CEO sends a directive throughout the company regarding costs and most department heads will interpret or translate that as “don’t spend more than what was budgeted,” rather than doing a proactive review of the spend and questioning how they got here. This opens the door for me to provide support to analyze their spend, and to provide alternatives to deliver efficiency to drive costs down. What I see as an internal problem can be adjusted by collaboration and solid support. Most department heads are solely focused on the day-to-day and have never conducted a transformational restructuring, it is my job to set expectations that will ensure a smooth roll-out without impacting their business. This has occurred on more than a few…
Read More
MetaExpert Peter Brust
Without a doubt, the worst communication problem that undermines Operational Excellence initiatives is the overuse of acronyms, buzzwords, jargon and foreign phrases. For some reason consultants and other “experts” believe that renaming concepts, techniques and activities will magically make them new again and better than they are. Nowhere is this more egregious than in the Lean arena where basic industrial engineering tools and everyday terms are presented in Japanese. For years I’ve seen machinists, operators, shop leads, and foremen, roll their eyes as they are introduced to a whole lexicon of “new” ideas/words (sometimes they are even written in Kanji script!). The best way to communicate effectively, especially when working with the people on the value-added side of the business, is to: 1) Use plain English (or the prevailing native language). 2) Use everyday words instead of technical/exact terms, e.g. say “average” instead of “mean”. 3) Don’t introduce new terms/words/acronyms…
Read More
MetaExpert Bob Forshay
Operational Excellence includes having a few clear objectives, supported by continuously monitored strategy execution, managed by unified cross-functional and simple metrics facilitated at each level, strategically, tactically and operationally with transparency and accountability. In order to achieve operational excellence, an organization must first be willing to stop doing some of the things it has been doing historically, thereby making room for new ideas and practices.  The communication must be one of readiness and commitment to change.  This requires active change management and open dialogue.  The readiness matrix below is an excellent example of this.  Next, the organization must be committed to addressing the gaps by investing in new skills and processes designed to create competitive advantage.  If a new initiative is not achieving the desired results, most often it can be traced back to communication and accountability.   MetaExperts Go/No-Go Assessment As applied by CSCTA program, MetaOps As most any…
Read More
E. Micheal Gray
The number one problem I see is lack of clarity on the problem statement. Executives are particularly poor at the practice of clearly articulating a fact-based statement about ‘what problem we are solving?’ What hurts? How much? I call it Executive Jeopardy. Like the TV game show, where they tell you the answer and you have to guess what the question is. Execs are notorious for telling team members, go do x. It feels like real leadership to bark orders, to be the expert, right? Not so much. On the employee side, because specialists live in a world of details, process and rules, they often hear the do x and jump straight to the fastest and most expedient way to accomplish the execs OpEx idea, whether it is related to the cause of the pain or not. Hold back, it is not unreasonable to ask clarifying questions of your execs.…
Read More
young company business woman looking at employees
Internal presentations usually take all the qualities of bad meetings and make them worse. Of course, some meetings have extreme value. Likewise, some internal presentations are essential. For example, if your division needs to go through a process re-engineering that requires a hefty budget increase and stakeholder buy-in, a succinct and solid presentation of the rationale behind the change and the benefits it will return may be advisable.  Conversely, your team members need to implement the re-engineering. It’s their job. You shouldn’t have to sell it to them with a presentation. Clearly, there may be training involved for your team. That’s different. If you create time-intensive presentations about the process and expectations, you’re not going to achieve what you want: individual and group comprehension and empowerment. Here’s why: Internal presentations are inherently ‘talk at, not with’ in nature. In that regard, they are even less engaging than too many meetings…
Read More
Politician liar gives people impossible promises with fingers crossed on his back.
The academic domain of this subject is the school for ethics. You make promises every day — promises to your workforce, promises to your clients and customers, promises to your supply chain vendors, promises to your stakeholders. They receive your promises with good faith they will be fulfilled, and anticipate that event. Two good characteristics bind your relationships: trust and integrity. Commitment drift. That’s a gentle term Elizabeth Doty of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics used to describe the opposite of integrity in promise-making. If you don’t fulfill your promises to staff, clients, vendors, and stakeholders, they aren’t likely to use as nice a term, and you will lose their trust and your integrity. In the Lean Six Sigma world of business commitments, there are seven fundamental strategies that will keep you from making empty promises that could quickly cost you your customer and client loyalty, the support…
Read More
Businessman holding his hand on his lips
Every decision you make results in change. Change generates uncertainty and anxiety for your team members. A decision that demands change without the courtesy of detailing the rationale behind it exacerbates that anxiety into controversy and mistrust: the perfect formula for resistance, every time. There are seven steps to making a decision effectively according to the standard cognitive thinking teachings of most universities: Identify and understand the constitution of the decision. Gather the information you need to support (or disclaim) the rationale for the decision. Recognize and assess alternative decisions that develop. Weigh the information and alternatives to prioritize decision possibilities. Use this to choose the best alternative. Start to implement the final decision. Actively monitor and review the results and consequences of the decision. Follow this process to both arrive at the best decision in a business re-engineering scenario, and to make you an authority on the rationale for…
Read More
Executives. You Make Insane Mistakes.
Internet go-to for all things related to perspective improvement, and prolific writer of sage business-attitude advice, Frank Sonnenberg has called us all out with his list of the “50 Insane Mistakes Companies Make.” And he’s absolutely right, except that companies don’t make them, their decision-makers do. In this Executive Excellence Series — by executives for executives — we’ll reveal how not to perpetuate ROI-killing bad practices. Punishingly bad business practices ooze out from those of us at the top of the leadership strata and trickle through management, glomming onto our best intentions and practices, smothering them in dysfunction and waste.  Quickly, they become part of the “(I know it’s wrong) but that’s just the way we do things” management mantra that results in teams working for a paycheck and Friday, so uninspired that hunkering down with their personal Facebook and Twitter accounts at work seems justifiable and more productive than,…
Read More
Is “Consultant” a Dirty Word?
Rolodex In the mid 80s, I managed a Rolodex of about 500 clerical temps who labored at $5 to $7 an hour for Boston’s mega corporations. Each weekday morning, in a flurry of highly orchestrated phone and front office activity, I placed anywhere from 50 to 200 of these people in short- to long-term jobs. Each placement’s mission was to work hard, smart and effectively. To get it done! Mobile, Global, Digital Now, I help businesses, mega to mini, government agencies, and not-for-profits connect with one or more of the top Operational Excellence (OpEx), Business Process Re-engineering/Improvement (BPRI), Change Management and Lean practitioners in the world. Most of them have the word “consultant” in their title. When they are placed on contract, their mission is to work hard, smart and effectively. To get it done! Trailblazing and Building My 500 clerical balls of fire could most definitely tell their on-site supervisors…
Read More
Does Resistance to Change Improve Outcomes?
In the early 90s, I had the great good fortune to be the Communications Director for the United States Sailing Association, governing body and logistics manager for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team. I was simultaneously, and not surreptitiously, starting my own consulting firm and trained my replacement before transitioning from a salaried position to a consulting one. I supported the new Communications Director in a variety of capacities for a few years. Olympic-sized Goings On While I continued to support the various departments — all designed to foster sail training and competition, and help sailors of all ages find pathways to becoming Olympians if that was their dream — through communications outreach and co-editorship of the magazine American Sailor, I also had my new friend and colleague’s back. This Communications Director was a lightning rod for special projects which she took on unflinchingly and performed gainfully. We worked together to…
Read More
Menu