Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Are you looking at Lean for your company?

We're looking for Canadian companies that are exploring Lean!

Have you started a lean journey? Are you looking at lean to improve your operations? Tell us your story and win a Lean Thinking tee shirt!

Lean Thinking applies to so many companies ... in fact, we can't think of one that it does not apply to! So why do we still think of Lean as a "manufacturing" initiative? Lean Thinking applies equally well in health care, offices, government, engineering design, construction - in any industry, anywhere!

So we're looking for some folks to help us spread the word! If you are exploring lean, or already implemented lean in your facility - tell us about it! If you have some secret tips that our readers would enjoy, share those too! And in return for sharing your lean stories and tips, you could get one of our Lean Thinking tee shirts for FREE!

Just click here to visit the web site and tell us your tips and story. Let us hear your story so we all learn about lean!


Monday, February 9, 2009

A Fishy Story

I have had the pleasure of working with many different organizations through my career. And I can truly say that each one of those workplaces was unique - in its challenges, with its opportunities and with the characters that work there. While I have enjoyed each assignment and approach my work with a passion to get the job done, I have never had the pleasure of walking into what I would characterize as a “fun” place to work at the get-go. Teamwork develops over time, and the people start to have fun as they come together as a team. But that generally happens after the team starts to gel.

Contrast that with the world famous Pikes Fish Market. Excitement and energy fills the air when you walk into the place. The energy embraces everyone, even as they approach. Its like returning to the fairground when you were a kid. So how can this be a workplace? How can they have so much fun, engage the people and accomplish so much when the work itself is not that fun. Selling fish was certainly not on the top of my high school careers list!

If you are visiting in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), seek out and stop by a Licks Hamburger joint. Feel the energy when you walk in the door! And listen to the order taker sing your order to the kitchen – then they all chime in from the back to confirm its on the grill and on its way! The customer becomes part of the experience that this team is delivering!

There is a small toy store in Stratford, Ontario that became the best toy store in Canada. Walking into the store you are captivated by the small aisle ways, wooden floor and the people actually playing with the toys. Most of the folks working there are kids themselves – no, really kids! They show you the best stuff, and engage you with what’s new. A visit to Family and Company is an experience in itself! And often the only adults you see are the customers themselves!

So where does the magic come from? How have these folks turned their shops into “world famous” or “best in Canada”. The solution is found in a simple philosophy. Simple and fabulous to experience, but more of a challenge to implement!

So what would happen to your workplace if you took these principals and applied them well. If everyone was aware that YOU choose your own attitude and that work can be play. That the team is actually present for their customers and they work to make the customers day! Your organization could become world famous too! And people would really want to work there.

So how do we develop a culture like that? How do we transform from a group that hates Mondays, works to get over hump day and embraces TGIF (thank goodness its Friday) with the POETS (Pee on everything tomorrows Saturday) afternoon get together?

By choosing to just dive in, experience the change and become world famous. Like Ghandi stated so well - "We must be the change that we want to see in the world".

Want help? Lets talk! Learn more about changing your organizational culture here.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Web Site or Web Presence?

So, many of you may know that NBI is in the web site design business. It started as a part time hobby, building my own specialty websites and I then entered the hosting service market by being cost effective. People found us and I was asked to do custom sites for others. I became quite busy and enlisted some web designers to help. While we were building websites and developing a web presence for our customers, we became much more hands on in improving their business models. With a background in business and operations improvement, we were able to deliver, and that's how our consulting arm was born. Consulting has been our passion and, while we still do great web presence work, our focus has been working hands on with businesses to improve results. Our sales team is focused almost exclusively on the consulting side. If, during the discussions, we learn that a company is not satisfied with their web site performance (which over 90% of those we talk to are not) we offer a web presence solution. But most of our web work is third party generated, similar to a broker. Our reps contact companies who need web work done and we bid the work through the broker. The broker adds a markup (like, doubles the price) and passes that to their clients.

So, I had the opportunity the other day to talk directly with a potential client on some web site work. They have had a site for several years and just wanted to "spruce it up". They already had 3 bids on their site when I talked to them. But they did not have a spec or requirements list - "just talk to the sales guy" was the passing comment.

I checked their web site code and noted that they have no web traffic tracking system in use. I did a little SEO pre-work and created a report that showed how little exposure they had on the web. I gave them that report along with my ebook "how to make your web site work as hard as you do" a few days before I went to talk with them.

I put our typical bid package together and, just to give some negotiation leverage, I doubled the price (just like my broker does). Then I had the discussion with the client. I reviewed the background information with them and asked if they had reviewed the ebook. They were quite impressed with the presentation and asked why the other suppliers had not even mentioned web presence. Seems they just want to build a web page with flash, movies and pretty graphics. My client was surprised to hear that these flashy sites actually detract from search engine listings. Search engines like content. They can't read pictures or movies - (yet, technology is a wonderful thing and is changing quickly).

So I told my client that if they just want a pretty site, find a kid in school to create one. A kid can likely have it done for a fraction of what the design houses charge and they'll end up with a "pretty" result (the "kids" are pretty talented these days). But, if they want to make their website work for them, they should put more thought into (a) what they want from the site and (b) building web presence (not a web site) into their marketing strategy.

Marketing strategy? Oh ya - we need to work on that too.

Hey - we can help you with that! So this is the normal situation - the current reality - with many businesses. They hear about the web's growth and (rightly) believe there is a huge market for them to tap into. But they don't have the time or resources to learn what a web presence is about. They are too busy working IN their business to work ON their business. So they settle for a web page. And the results don't come.

Attraction marketing and developing a web presence can work for any company. So why are so many people not jumping on board? Because they are so busy working IN their business that they don't have time to work ON their business. An important distinction if you want to grow your profits.

NBI - Making sense of business improvement - Blogged